You probably know that U.S. immigration law sets caps, or limits, on the number of immigration visas it issues to foreign nationals looking to come to this country to live with family or work. These caps are strictly enforced, and once the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hits the limit for a certain type of visa, applicants who were not yet approved must wait until the next fiscal year.
That likely will happen this year. USCIS announced at the end of August that it had issued 263,510 employment-based immigrant visas by that point in the fiscal year. The annual limit for work visas for immigrants is 281,507. USCIS expects to reach that limit this year.
This is a dramatic change from the previous two years, when the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders around the world, halted many sectors of the economy, and made coming to the U.S. much more difficult, and less enticing, for foreign workers. USCIS did not reach the cap either year.
However, the brief dip in applications did not eliminate the huge backlog for visa applicants from certain countries. The law limits the number of immigration visa recipients from any particular country to 7 percent of the total immigrants to the U.S. per year. Countries like Mexico, India and China have many more visa applicants than can be approved each year, often leading to years-long wait times to get their applications processed.
Delays and wait times can be frustrating. Preventable delays due to things like an error on your visa application can make things worse. Working with an experienced immigration attorney can help you get your visa approved as quickly as possible.