The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently announced that a record number of employment-based immigrant visas (a.k.a green cards) will be available in Fiscal Year 2022 (October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022).
Each year, a total of 140,000 green cards are available in the employment-based categories and no single country can use more than 7% of the total. However, if all of the family-based green cards are not used, the excess of the family-based green cards are then available to the employment-based categories.
A majority of the family-based green card applications are processed through the U.S. consulates abroad whereas a majority of the employment-based green card applications are processed in the United States through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic which caused the temporary closure of U.S. consulates abroad and prevented the consulates from processing visa applications, many family-based green cards have not been used and thus the excess has been assigned to the employment-based categories.
In Fiscal Year 2021, this excess was approximately 122,000 green cards which allowed for more than 262,000 employment-based green cards to be available. In Fiscal Year 2022, it is estimated that the excess will be 150,000 green cards which will allow for more than 290,000 employment-based green cards to be available, which is a record.
During a stakeholder session, DOS indicated that although a record number of employment-based green cards are available in Fiscal Year 2022, the USCIS has indicated that it has already received a sufficient number of AOS applications to use all of these numbers. Therefore, the DOS said that it will continue to monitor usage of the numbers but that if retrogression occurs, it does not expect movement in the EB-3 category until at least some time in 2022.
Additional information about priority date movement in the employment-based green card categories will be posted as it becomes available.