Discover DOS’s Remarkable Achievement: 10 Million Visas in FY 2023″ Explore the Department of State’s (DOS) impressive visa processing success in FY 2023, with over 10 million visas issued.
Visa Processing Successes in FY 2023 and Next Steps
In November 2023, the Department of State (DOS) released a press release, shining a spotlight on its remarkable achievements in visa operations during the fiscal year 2023.
This announcement not only celebrated their accomplishments but also outlined a clear roadmap for future growth and improvements.
FY 2023 Visa Issuances
The DOS’s press release revealed impressive statistics regarding the issuance of non-immigrant visas during the period from October 2022 to September 2023:
- Over ten million non-immigrant visas were granted.
- Eight million were issued for business or tourism purposes.
- 600,000 visas were allocated to students.
- 442,000 visas supported temporary workers.
- 365,000 visas were extended to airline and shipping crew members, crucial to the nation’s supply chain.
- 590,000 visas were granted to highly skilled and executive workers, many of whom are vital contributors to critical industries like technology and healthcare.
Acknowledging DOS and Staff Efforts
The DOS’s ability to rebound from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic deserves commendation.
Much of this success can be attributed to the strategic procedures implemented by dedicated agency employees to expedite visa processing while upholding national security standards.
Interview Waiver Flexibility
One pivotal policy contributing to the streamlined visa processing is the interview waiver flexibility, which is set to expire on December 31, 2023.
This policy has played a pivotal role in visa processing efficiency, with nearly half of all temporary visas granted in 2022 being issued without face-to-face interviews.
This approach not only accelerates visa processing but also enables agency staff to focus on other visa-related tasks.
The Path Forward
While awaiting approval from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Administration has yet to announce its intentions regarding the extension of interview waivers.
On November 17, 2023, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and 65 Coalition Partners penned a letter to both DHS and DOS leadership, urging the extension of this policy beyond its December 31st expiration date.
The letter emphasized the multitude of benefits this policy has brought, particularly in reducing visa wait times and enhancing overall efficiency.
The DOS’s accomplishments in FY 2023 are a testament to their commitment to facilitating legitimate travel and promoting international exchange while maintaining security.
As we move forward, the decision regarding the interview waiver policy extension will play a crucial role in shaping the future of visa processing in the United States.
The US Economy and National Security
The remarkable progress achieved by the Department of State (DOS) in visa processing may face uncertainty without the continued use of interview waiver authorities.
The flexibility offered by interview waivers has played a pivotal role in enhancing visa processing efficiency.
Stateside Non-Immigrant Visa Renewal Pilot
Another policy measure poised to positively impact visa processing is the agency’s planned Stateside Non-Immigrant Visa Renewal Pilot, as highlighted in the news release.
This development aligns with the efforts of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), which has advocated for the reinstatement of Stateside non-immigrant visa renewals for several years.
The pilot program is scheduled to launch in early 2024, initially focusing on 20,000 H-1B principals.
By allowing individuals to renew their non-immigrant visas from within the United States, this initiative will reduce uncertainty and shorten wait times at consular facilities overseas.
Details regarding this program will be included in a federal notice expected to be published in December 2023.
As this program undergoes testing in a modest trial phase, its implementation and subsequent expansion hold the promise of increased efficiency in agency services.
Congressional Action Needed
Congress must take action to address backlogs and delays in visa processing. AILA supports the Bipartisan Visa Processing Improvement Act, introduced by Senators Klobuchar and Moran (R-KS).
This act proposes a pilot program for remote video interviews, permanent codification of interview waiver flexibilities for specific non-immigrant visa categories, and ensures agency accountability and transparency, among other provisions.
Appropriating funds for streamlined procedures is crucial to enabling the DOS to permanently eliminate its backlog.
These changes will significantly reduce visa wait times and delays while providing the agency with essential resources and capacity.
AILA expresses appreciation for the dedication and ingenuity demonstrated by DOS employees in reducing visa wait times and increasing the issuance of both immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
These efforts not only benefit individuals seeking visas but also have broader implications for the U.S. economy and national security.
Sustaining Progress into the New Year
To ensure that the Department of State (DOS) can carry forward the growth and accomplishments achieved in 2023, it is vital to consistently implement the following tried-and-true tactics.
US Family-Based Green Card Sponsorship
Eligibility for family-based green card sponsorship based on U.S. domicile is a crucial consideration for many applicants who seek to bring foreign relatives to the United States.
In most cases, these applications are filed on behalf of foreign family members, and the petitioner assumes the role of the intended immigrant’s financial sponsor using Form I-130.
Prerequisite: US Citizenship
One key prerequisite for becoming a sponsor is that the applicant must be a U.S. citizen.
While establishing a U.S. domicile may not pose a challenge for petitioners residing permanently in the United States, those living overseas may need to take additional steps to meet this requirement.
Understanding US Domicile Requirement
Having a U.S. domicile signifies an individual’s intent to reside in the United States for the foreseeable future and establish it as their primary place of abode.
It’s important to note that merely possessing U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status does not automatically fulfill the US domicile requirement.
In cases where the primary sponsor does not meet the US domicile requirement, a joint sponsor can step in to help meet the financial obligations.
Detailed information on this topic can be found in the murthy.com news brief for the 2023 poverty guideline.
Understanding and meeting the US domicile requirement is a critical step for sponsors seeking to bring their foreign relatives to the United States through family-based green card sponsorship.
It ensures that the sponsor can fulfill their financial responsibilities and contributes to the success of the sponsorship process.
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