October 2021 Visa Bulletin

Charlie Oppenheim’s most recent visa bulletin chat on YouTube did not bring any good news for the long pending queue. Indeed, he has stated on multiple occasions that there will be no movement in “Final Action Dates” for employment-based India, and that the dates will remain the same as in the September bulletin, with date movement expected only in the November Visa Bulletin or later. Apparently, the DOS is holding the date movements as a result of Grace Meng’s legislation bill, which attempts to recapture the GC numbers.

spending bill
Meng’s measures would allow unused family-based, employment-based, and diversity visas that were allocated in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 to remain available in fiscal year 2022 and beyond until they are used.

The bill should be passed in Senate in order to take effect. Democrats made the similar failed attempt and eventually spilled over in Fiscal Year 2021. If the bill passes the Senate, there is a good chance that EB2/EB3 India will retrogress in near future.

COVID-19 Vaccination
According to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order, green card applicants will be required to obtain full COVID-19 vaccination beginning October 1, 2021, in order to pass their immigration medical exam and obtain permanent residence. The requirement will apply to both adjustment of status applicants in the United States and immigrant visa applicants seeking green cards at US embassies and consulates around the world.

Employment Based India:

Employment- BasedIndiaFAD ProgressionDates For FilingDOF Progression
2nd01SEP11008JUL127+ months
3rd01JAN14008JAN14-2 months
  • USCIS has announced that it will accept employment-based adjustment of status applications with a priority date that is earlier than the Dates for Filing listed in the October Visa Bulletin.
  • EB-2 China Final Action Dates will remain at July 1, 2018 & EB-3 China Final Action dates will remain at January 8, 2019.
  • This month’s chat with Charlie is scheduled to take place on September 15, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. EST to discuss the October Visa Bulletin. 


In the October bulletin, USCIS published visa availability for the coming months, and contrary to Charlie’s claim that the EB category will not retrogress prior to the summer of 2022, it appears that EB3 will retrogress for both China and India in the November Bulletin. EB2 will advance by several months.

Employment Second:

Worldwide: Current
China:        Up to several months
India:          Up to several months

Employment Third:

Worldwide:  A final action date could be imposed as early as November
China:          A retrogression of this date could occur as early as November
India:           A retrogression of this date could occur as early as November

Date Movements & Downgrades:-

Charlie stated “USCIS will allow filing dates for the month of October 2021 Visa Bulletin”. This means that anyone who failed to file a downgrade application in October 2020 due to a job change where a “perm” was pending will be able to file an I-485 if their priority date is Jan 8, 2014 or earlier.

Downgrading and filing “Adjustment of Status” entitles you to benefits such as EAD and advance parole. Except there is a long processing delays in both SRC(Texas) or LIN(Nebraska) centers where downgrade applications processed.

Charlie also emphasized the benefit of downgrading; someone with both EB-2 and downgrade EB-3 has the best of both worlds, so whichever category becomes current, the green card will be issued under that category using USCIS “Transfer of Underlying Basis” policy, also referred as “interfiling”.

On the other hand, as EB3 downgrade applications are approved, the EB2 queue is expected to move forward in the near future.


Processing Delay:-

The USCIS processing delay is well known. The USCIS did not always use the maximum visa capacity of 140k base quotas in the employment category, resulting in thousands of visas being wasted each year.

Charlie mentioned “USCIS is on track to improve more adjustments of status application since FY 2005 and trying to use all available numbers”. According to the 2021 Q3 report, USCIS approved only 74k visas in the first three quarters out of a total of 262k available visas and 288K pending applications. This figure includes India, China, and the rest of the world.

FY2020 represents a once-in-a-decade golden opportunity for the long-standing queue. Based on historical approval numbers from 2005 to 2020, the USCIS processed over 140k+ base quota in a number of fiscal years. If USCIS approves a record number of applications in the final quarter, it will significantly reduce waste. One can only hope that USCIS will reduce the number of visas that go unused.

The HR3648 is yet another unending hope in the last 20 years. House Democrats on August 24th 2021 adopted a budget resolution & actual bill is being drafted. The text of the House Reconciliation bill relating to the Path to Citizenship is now available which includes key reforms for employment-based Visas. 

Quarterly Reports
Quarterly Comparison from 2015-2021(Q3) – Numbers are not exact, rounded off
FY Year-To-Date Approvals from 2015-2021(Q3)Numbers are not exact, rounded off
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