January 2021 Visa Bulletin

Posted by Frank Gogol

The January 2021 visa bulletin has arrived, and it brings some exciting news. Petitioners from China and India have reasons to be happy in this new year, and with the benefits brought by the new visa bulletin, it’s not a surprise. So, what news does the January 2021 visa bulletin bring? Learn everything about this below.

January 2021 Visa Bulletin Overview

Most people are aware that the Department of State releases a new Visa Bulletin each month. This happens in order to reveal information about the availability of statutorily limited visas, in case immigrants are planning to apply. In these Visa Bulletins, people can see the available visas based on the preference category, priority date, and country of chargeability.

When “priority date” is being mentioned, you should know it refers to the date when the application for permanent labor certification was filed. There are other situations, though. For example, when someone is being sponsored for employment-based permanent residence but the category doesn’t need any certification for labor, and they send Form I-140 to USCIS – so, the date it is received by USCIS represents the priority date.

When it comes to the priority date cut-offs mentioned in the Visa Bulletin, they tell you about how eligible someone is to send a Form I-485 during that month. You should have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date that applies in order to be qualified to submit a Form I-485.

The January 2021 Visa Bulletin has been released only last month by the Department of State. This new bulletin provided some great news for people from India and China.

It seems that some advancements have been made to employment-based categories. Basically, there has been movement regarding these visa categories for India and China. The EB-1 is the one that has had the biggest jump for 5 months. Meanwhile, the other categories have moved forward quite a bit too.

In the first visa bulletin of the year, we can see more about the backlogs for getting a green card in the employment-based and family categories. Now, it all depends on your birth country, as well as the petition to determine how long it will take you to obtain your Green Card.

Summary by Visa Type

So, what is the news based on visa type? Here’s what you need to know.

EB-1, First Preference Category

The EB-1 First Preference category is in January. It includes Guatemala, Mexico, the Philippines, Honduras, Vietnam, and El Salvador. As for India and China, the cut-off date is September 1st, 2019.

EB-2, Second Preference Category

The worldwide for this visa type remains current in January. For India, the cut-off date is October 8th, 2009. Meanwhile, the cut-off date for China is June 1st, 2016.

EB-3, Third Preference Category

For worldwide, and also including EB-3 Worldwide Other Workers, it stays current in January. The cut-off date for EB-3 India and EB-3 India Other Workers’ is March 22nd, 2010. The cut-off date for EB-3 China is December 15th, 2017, and for EB-3 China Other Workers it’s March 1st, 2009.

Final Action Dates Implemented

There has also been an announcement made by USCIS regarding the Final Action Dates.

USCIS said that they are going to honor the Final Action Date chart of the State Department from now on when it comes to adjustment of status filings. All of this will apply from January.

What exactly does this mean? Basically, those who are employer-sponsored with priority dates before the date that is mentioned in the new bulletin will qualify for adjustment of status filings.

The Dates for Filing Chart was still honored by USCIS until the end of December.

Important Items to Note

You may be aware that President Trump has suspended certain immigrants from entry through a proclamation back on April 22. But the proclamation expired on December 31, 2020, which may be great news for those who were not allowed entry due to the former restrictions. But President Donald Trump lost the elections, and President-elect Joe Biden may change things, making everything better for immigrants.

According to him, he will not extend the limitation implemented by Donald Trump into the new year. Instead, he plans on resuming the immigrant visa issuing, making things more convenient for all people who wanted to obtain visas. This is great news, and if it is going to happen, then it will make many immigrants happy.

What’s more, the number of total visas that are going to be offered will most likely boost, as the changes are surely going to have an impact on them. At this point, we can only wait for the February 2021 visa bulletin and see what happens.

There are also important things you should know about the EB-4 and EB-5 categories. Basically, for the EB-4 one, all countries of chargeability stay current. The exceptions include El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala. The cut-off date for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras is March 1, 2018, whereas the cut-off date for Mexico is December 1, 2018.

For the EB-5 category, the cut-off date for China stays the same, respectively on August 15, 2015. Meanwhile, the cut-off date for Vietnam will change to September 15, 2017. As for the other countries, it all stays current.

Also, the plans were for the EB-4 Non-Minister Religious Worker and EB-5 Regional Center programs to expire this month. Back in December, respectively on the 27th of December in 2020, President Donald Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. In this, he funded the Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State, as well as multiple other federal agencies to the end of Financial Year 2021.

As such, a variety of programs that were supposed to expire this month are going to be extended based on the new legislation, so the EB-5 and EB-4 programs will be extended as well. The former will be extended to June 30, 2021, and the latter to September 30, 2021.

Next Steps for Employers

Now, what should employers do next? There are some steps that they have to take.

What employers should do is work with immigration counsel to find the foreign nationals qualified to file status adjustment applications in January. If it’s according to the Final Action Dates chart, then it applies. Moreover, applications for adjustment of status will have to be filed in December for Indian and Chinese nationals. This is very important if the nationals are eligible for filing under the December 2020 Visa Bulletin Dates for Filing Chart, and are going to lose their eligibility to file under the Final Action Dates of the January 2020 Visa Bulletin.

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Conclusion

The January 2021 Visa Bulletin made many people from China and India happy. People who want to apply for an employment-based visa have a lot to look forward to. What’s more, now that the U.S. will have a new president, many things might change in the months to come. So, while improvements have been made in this bulletin, there may be others in the months to come. Make sure you keep the information about the new bulletin in mind if you’re planning to apply for a visa soon.

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