The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for the month of April 2017 included the following reminders about the possible expiration in late April of two employment-based immigrant visa categories, and an update on Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) availability.
Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR) category. The non-minister special immigrant program expires on April 28, 2017. No SR visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after midnight April 27, 2017. Visas issued before that date will only be issued with a validity date of April 27, 2017, and all individuals seeking admission as non-minister special immigrants must be admitted into the United States by midnight April 27, 2017.
The final action date for this category has been listed as Current for April for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, which are subject to a July 15, 2015, final action date for April. If there is no legislative action extending this category for FY 2017, the Department said, the final action date would immediately become Unavailable for April for all countries effective April 28, 2017.
Employment Fifth Preference (I5 and R5) categories. This immigrant investor pilot program had been extended by a continuing resolution until April 28, 2017. The I5 and R5 visas for EB-5 immigrant investors may be issued until the “close of business” on April 28, 2017, and may be issued for the full validity period. No I5 or R5 visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after April 28, 2017.
The final action dates for the I5 and R5 categories have been listed as Current for April for all countries except China-mainland born, which is subject to a May 22, 2014, final action date. If there is no legislative action extending them for FY 2017, the final action dates would immediately become “Unavailable” for April for all countries effective April 29, 2017.
SIV availability. The Department expects to exhaust the SIV numbers allocated by Congress under the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, as amended, by June 1, 2017. As a result, the Final Action Date for the SQ category for certain Afghan nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan will become Unavailable effective June 2017. No further interviews for Afghan principal applicants in the SQ category will be scheduled after March 1, 2017, and further issuances will not be possible after May 30, 2017.
The SQ category for certain Iraqi nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq is not affected and remains Current, although the application deadline was September 30, 2014.
The FY 2017 annual limit of 50 SIVs in the SI category was reached in December 2016 and the final action date remains Unavailable. As noted in the January 2017 Visa Bulletin, further issuances in the SI category will not be possible until October 2017, under the FY 2018 annual limit, the Department explained.
The Visa Bulletin for April 2017 is at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2017/visa-bulletin-for-april-2017.html.