The most important change in the latest October Visa Bulletin is theEB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 fixed dates for processing and final approval dates. The most dramatic aspect of this latest October Visa Bulletin is the EB-3 visa window will be eliminated from the U.S. immigration calendar. As illustrated below, the proposed date for visa approval is now being moved to July 31, 2015. What does this mean?
Currently the United States plans to implement a new visa application process for the Non-immigrant Visa Program (NVP). The ultimate goal is to replace the current green card application process with the same convenient online process that is currently in place for the interviews of foreign nationals. The goal is to replace the green card application process with an online NVP application. The shift to an accelerated green card application has been recommended by the US Congress and the Secretary of State.
There are three primary reasons that this would be implemented. The first reason is to free up processing time on the EAD-2 visa category for Indians applying for green cards or citizens of other countries that are allowed to work in the United States under the EB visa provisions. The second reason is to speed up the process of adjudicating cases on behalf of the USCIS green card approval authority. The third reason is to allow an increase in the number of Indians who may qualify for the permanent residency status as Green Card Holders. This would result in an increased demand for the services of Immigration attorneys and immigration advocates. Given the fact that the number of visas available is expected to be dramatically reduced in the next two years, the number of clients who will require the representation of an immigration attorney is also expected to grow substantially over the next two years.
The Visa Bulletin 2020 issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shows that the number of NVP applications approved will be much lower than the numbers approved in previous years. The reason for this is threefold. First, the number of applicants applying for the non-immigrant status asylees is down. Second, there is a lapsing of closure date for the ESAs or the Employment visas. Finally, there is a significant increase in the number of case assessments conducted on behalf of USCIS green card applicants.
The number of final action dates approved for the NVP applications has also been significantly lower in comparison to the numbers approved in previous years. While it was previously believed that the number of approved NVP applications would decline slightly in the final year of the calendar year, as per the published Visa Bulletin, there is a marked increase in the number of final action dates approved for the previous month and quarter. For example, there were four final action dates approved for the fourth quarter of FY 2010 compared to six in the fourth quarter of FY 2009. The reasons for this could be an increase in processing of NVP applications or the USCIS considering the applications to be of high importance. Whatever the reason, there is no indication that the US green card application process is currently any harder than it was previously.
The third quarter of FY 2010 saw the highest number of approvals for NVPs compared to any other quarter throughout the entire year. There are a variety of reasons for this. Perhaps the number of NVP applications filed by Indians on the final approval list is high due to the large number of people travelling abroad to take advantage of the winter season. Perhaps Indian citizens are simply rushing to secure their green cards before they face a lengthy penalty due to their ineligibility for the visa when they apply for it for the first time. The reasons are numerous and the analysis is beyond the scope of this article but one thing is clear: visa processing has now become much easier.
The fourth quarter of FY 2010 saw the lowest number of approvals overall. However, the number of approvals did increase slightly from six in the third quarter to eight in the fourth quarter of the year. This may be due to a surge of applications at the last minute; however, there is no real indication that the number of green cards that will be issued during this period will be any lower than those received during the first or second quarters.
The impact of the US green card program on India's economy cannot be ignored. It is estimated that approximately twenty thousand tourists will visit India each year through the visa process. These tourists spent approximately US $2.1 billion dollars on hotels accommodations alone. The revenue gained from visa fees and related goods and services to support the infrastructure development in India significantly. Given this and the growing need for professionals who can work in multiple countries concurrently, the number of Indians applying for green cards will continue to rise over the next few years.
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