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The Department of State posted the Visa Bulletin for March 2023 and it is a mixed bag with troubling signs for future retrogression. Here is the good news: the processing status for applications for F2A (residence for a spouse and/or a minor child of permanent residents) remains current for applicants from all countries applying for this visa. This means that those that are married to permanent residents or are children of permanent residents under 21 years of age can file for adjustment of status concurrently if they are in the US under lawful status.

The situation is more tenuous when reviewing the final action dates for the F1, F2B, F3, and F4 categories, with backlogs for Mexican F3 applicants (Married Sons or Daughters of U.S. Citizens), for instance, still reaching back to as early as 1997. Some positive movement has taken place in the F1 category for all countries besides Mexico. Mexican applicants are still paying the price for applications filed by the time of 245(i) in 2001. One hopeful note for Mexican family-based applicants is that the F3 and F4 categories’ backlogs are approaching April 30, 2001 when most 245(i) family-based petitions were filed. After that date, the numbers of individuals applying significantly dropped off, such that the backlogs will proceed more rapidly after that date.

The employment-based categories do raise cause for concern of slowing forward movement. EB-1s are already backlogged this year for China and India—clearly not a good sign for things to come. EB-3 remains current for most countries (except China and India) as do most 5th-preference categories except for China and India in the 5th Unreserved category. India is definitely going to backlog further, likely by the April Visa Bulletin. The final action date for EB-2 China applicants has been catching up a bit and, given that neither the Trump nor Biden administration has been extraordinarily helpful in getting more visas to Chinese nationals, I expect China EB-2 to be at par with the worldwide date within the next couple of years.

The largest cause of concern are worldwide EB-3 numbers. The Department of Labor is sitting on more than 100,000 labor certifications, the vast majority of which are EB-3. Once those clear the backlogged pipeline, they are going to ravage the EB-3 Worldwide category which will, in turn, slow down India and China forward movement for lack of spillover.

In the Diversity Immigrant (DV) category for the month of March, Africa has moved up as has Asia and Europe. Europe is as close to current as you can get at this stage of the annual processing. North America is likely maxed out as is Oceania. South America is also fairly close. The April numbers may be open for basically everyone. Africa isn’t using the numbers of applications opened to them as they should because the U.S. Consulates there have slow-walking applications. We don’t have any plans to sue; but if things get worse, we are always here to help out.