9 FAM 503.4
Allocation of Immigrant Visa Numbers
(Office of Origin: CA/VO)
9 fam 503.4-1 RELATED STATUTORY AND REGULATORY AUTHORITIES
9 FAM 503.4-1(A) Immigration and Nationality Act
INA 201 (8 U.S.C. 1151); INA 202(a) (8 U.S.C. 1152(a)); INA 202(b) (8 U.S.C. 1152(b)); INA 202(e) (8 U.S.C. 1152(e)); INA 203(a) (8 U.S.C. 1153(a)); INA 203(b); INA 203(d) (8 U.S.C. 1153(d)); INA 203(e) (8 U.S.C. 1153(e)); INA 203(g) (8 U.S.C. 1153(g)); INA 206 (8 U.S.C. 1156).
9 FAM 503.4-1(B) Code of Federal Regulations
22 CFR 42.31; 22 CFR 42.32; 22 CFR 42.51; 22 CFR 42.55.
9 FAM 503.4-2 Allocation of Numbers to the Preference Categories
9 FAM 503.4-2(A) Family-Sponsored Immigrants-Text of INA 203(a)
Preference Allocation for Family-Sponsored Immigrants: Aliens subject to the worldwide level specified in section 201(c) for family-sponsored immigrants shall be allotted visas as follows:
(1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens: Qualified immigrants who are the unmarried sons or daughters of citizens of the United States shall be allocated visas in a number not to exceed 23,400, plus any visas not required for the class specified in paragraph (4).
(2) Spouses and Unmarried Sons and Unmarried Daughters of Permanent Resident Aliens: Qualified immigrants –
(a) Who are the spouses or children of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or
(b) Who are the unmarried sons or unmarried daughters (but are not the children) of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, shall be allocated visas in a number not to exceed 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which such worldwide level exceeds 226,000, plus any visas not required for the class specified in paragraph (1); except that not less than 77 percent of such visa numbers shall be allocated to aliens described in subparagraph (a).
(3) Married Sons and Married Daughters of Citizens: Qualified immigrants who are the married sons or married daughters of citizens of the United States shall be allocated visas in a number not to exceed 23,400, plus any visas not required for the classes specified in paragraphs (1) and (2).
(4) Brothers and Sisters of Citizens: Qualified immigrants who are the brothers or sisters of citizens of the United States, if such citizens are at least 21 years of age, shall be allocated visas in a number not to exceed 65,000, plus any visas not required for the classes specified in paragraphs (1) through (3).
9 FAM 503.4-2(B) Employment-Based Immigrants-Partial Text of INA 203(b)
Preference Allocation for Employment-Based Immigrants: Aliens subject to the worldwide level specified in section 201(d) for employment-based immigrants in a fiscal year shall be allotted visas as follows:
(1) Priority Workers: Visas shall first be made available in a number not to exceed 28.6 percent of such worldwide level, plus any visas not required for the classes specified in paragraphs (4) and (5), to qualified immigrants who are . . . _(A) Aliens with extraordinary ability . . .; (B) Outstanding professors and researchers . . . ; (C) Certain multinational executives and managers. . . .
(2) Aliens Who are Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Aliens of Exceptional Ability: Visas shall be made available, in a number not to exceed 28.6 percent of such worldwide level, plus any visas not required for the classes specified in paragraph (1), to qualified immigrants who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent or who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States, and whose services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business are sought by an employer in the United States.
(3) Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: Visas shall be made available, in a number not to exceed 28.6 percent of such worldwide level, plus any visas not required for the classes specified in paragraphs (1) and (2), to the following classes of aliens who are not described in paragraph (2): (A) In general: (i) Skilled workers . . .; (ii) Professionals; (iii) Other workers. (B) Limitation on other workers: Not more than 10,000 of the visas made available under this paragraph in any fiscal year may be available for qualified immigrants described in subparagraph (A)(iii).
(4) Certain Special Immigrants: Visas shall be made available, in a number not to exceed 7.1 percent of such worldwide level, to qualified special immigrants described in section 101(a)(27) (other than those described in subparagraph (A) or (B) thereof), of which not more than 5,000 may be made available in any fiscal year to special immigrants described in subclause (II) or (III) of section 101(a)(27)(C)(ii) and not more than 100 may be made available in any fiscal year to special immigrants, excluding spouses and children, who are described in section 101(a)(27)(M).
(5) Employment Creation: (A) In general: Visas shall be made available, in a number not to exceed 7.1 percent of such worldwide level, to qualified immigrants seeking to enter the United States for the purpose of engaging in a new commercial enterprise (including a limited partnership). . . .
9 FAM 503.4-2(C) Entitlement to Derivative Status - Text of INA 203(d)
Treatment of family members: A spouse or child as defined in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), (D), or (E) of section 101 (b)(1) shall, if not otherwise entitled to an immigrant status and the immediate issuance of a visa under subsection (a), (b), or (c) of this section, be entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration provided in the respective subsection, if accompanying or following to join, the spouse or parent.
9 FAM 503.4-3 Numerical Control
Visa number allocation is handled by the Visa Office (VO) through the Immigrant Visa Allocation Management System (IVAMS), which helps administer the complex series of annual numerical limitations on immigrants set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Each month a determination is made regarding the number of visas that can be made available on a worldwide basis for final action on applications. These numbers are used by applicants processing their cases both abroad at Foreign Service posts and in the United States at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices. Numbers are made available in the chronological order of the applicants’ priority dates. The monthly Application Final Action Dates (referred to as cutoff dates in Visa Bulletins prior to October 2015), which are used to determine whether an applicant’s case is eligible for final interview, are published in the Visa Bulletin available at www.travel.state.gov.
9 FAM 503.4-3(A) Monthly Allotment of Immigrant Visa Numbers
The documentarily qualified figures submitted monthly (see 22 CFR 42.55 and 9 FAM 504.4-5(A)(3)) provide the Department the known total (by priority date, chargeability, classification, and post) of visa applicants who are awaiting only visa numbers to apply formally for a visa. After collation of these data, the Department makes monthly allotments to the extent available visa numbers permit. (See 22 CFR 42.51.) If demand exceeds the supply of available numbers, the priority date of the first applicant for whom a number is not available becomes the Application Final Action Date (referred to as the cutoff date in Visa Bulletins prior to October 2015) for the categories and foreign states concerned. The documentarily qualified totals are used for setting the Application Final Action Dates. It is therefore essential that the following general guidelines further described in 9 FAM 504.3-2(A) be strictly observed in preparing the monthly reports of documentarily qualified applicants.
9 FAM 503.4-3(A)(1) Monthly Report of Documentarily Qualified/Complete Applicants, Report 20
The Department allocates immigrant visa numbers monthly through the Immigrant Visa Allocation Management System on the basis of Reports 20, Monthly Report of Documentarily Qualified Applicants. (See 9 FAM 503.4-4(A) below and 9 FAM 601.4-4.)
9 FAM 503.4-3(A)(2) “Documentarily Qualified” Applicants
“Documentarily qualified” or "documentarily complete" means that the alien has returned Form DS-2001, Notification of Applicant Readiness, or has otherwise informed post or NVC that all required documents have been obtained, and that all clearance procedures have been completed. Under some circumstances, you may establish other screening mechanisms to verify that an applicant is documentarily qualified (see 9 FAM 504.4-5(C)(2)). When you are notified during the reporting period that an applicant is documentarily qualified, update IVO as soon as possible. (See 9 FAM 503.4-3(A) above.)
9 FAM 503.4-3(A)(3) Dates for Filing Application
“Dates for Filing Application" (formerly referred to as "Qualifying dates”) are established by the Department to indicate when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit required documentation to the National Visa Center (NVC). The dates reflect a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process. The Dates for Filing Application are published in the monthly Visa Bulletin starting in October 2015. Post or National Visa Center (NVC) will not officially and pro-actively notify applicants of additional processing requirements until the Date for Filing Application encompasses the alien’s priority date. Otherwise, it is likely that some documents would be out-of-date by the time a visa number is available and delay in final action would result. Nevertheless, should an applicant or agent request information concerning additional processing requirements, this information may be provided at any time with a warning that some documents may expire if obtained too early in the process. The Dates for Filing Application may also be used for filing for adjustment of status when USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for the fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas. Applicants for adjustment of status may refer to USCIS for additional information by visiting the USCIS website.
9 FAM 503.4-3(B) Effect of INA 101(a)(27)(K) Visa Issuances and Adjustments in Following Fiscal Year
9 FAM 503.4-3(B)(1) Informing Department of Issuances Under INA 101(a)(27)(K)
Under INA 203(b)(6)(A), there are no numerical limitations for any aliens who qualify for special immigrant status under INA 101(a)(27)(K). However, since under INA 203(b)(6)(B) visa issuances and adjustments of status in this class are counted against the Employment-Based numerical limits in the following fiscal year, the Department must be kept informed of such issuances.
9 FAM 503.4-3(B)(2) Worldwide Employment-Based Numerical Limits
Although numerical limits do not apply in the year of issuance or adjustment under INA 101(a)(27)(K), such visa issuances or adjustments impact visa number availability under INA 202 and 203 in the following fiscal year. Total admissions of immigrants whose status was based on qualification under INA 101(a)(27)(K), including spouses and children of Armed Forces personnel, will be divided by three; one-third of the total will be subtracted from the visa numbers available to each of the classes described in INA 203(b)(1), (2), and (3).
9 FAM 503.4-3(B)(3) Per-Country Ceiling
In addition, the per-country numerical limitation under INA 202(a) will be reduced by the number of such admissions attributable to natives of such country in the following year. For countries subject to the prorating provisions of INA 202(e), there will also be a reduction of one-third of the total of such admissions attributable to that country in the pro rata amount of visas available in each of the Employment-Based First through Third preferences.
9 FAM 503.4-4 Communicating About Visa Numbers
9 FAM 503.4-4(A) Monthly Request for Immigrant Visa (IV) Numbers
a. As noted in 9 FAM 503.4-3(A) above, the Department allocates visa numbers on the basis of monthly reports of documentarily qualified visa applicants submitted by the posts, the National Visa Center (NVC), and the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC). Issuing offices abroad must prepare and submit Report 20, Monthly Report of Documentarily Qualified Immigrant Visa Demand, so that it reaches the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division (CA/VO/DO/I) by the first of the month. Posts authorized to issue immigrant visas (IV) but having no reportable applicants in a given month need not submit Report 20.
b. The monthly allotment of IV numbers is close to the maximum permissible. Therefore, only a few IV numbers remain for allocation in response to individual requests from posts. For this reason, posts should not request allocation of IV numbers for applicants who become documentarily qualified after the submission of the report unless special circumstances exist in an individual case necessitating immediate issuance of a visa. A post with unused numbers in a particular category/chargeability which would otherwise be returned to CA/VO/DO/I at the end of the month should use such numbers before requesting additional allocations in the same category/chargeability. During the last month of a fiscal year, there are generally fewer IV numbers available for individual allocation than in any other month, and only requests for the most compelling cases can be honored during that time.
9 FAM 503.4-4(B) Returning Unused Visa Numbers
Posts must return unused visa numbers allocated for a specific month to the Department (CA/VO/DO/I) by Report 22, Monthly Returns. Report 22, Monthly Returns must be sent within five calendar days after the end of each month. (See 9 FAM 504.3-2(D).)
9 FAM 503.4-4(C) Recaptured Visas
A recaptured visa is a visa that is known to have not been used (e.g., the bearer died or was unable to travel during the validity period). Such visas should be recaptured and the visa number returned to the Department unless the same applicant wants to replace his or her visa during the same fiscal year. (See 9 FAM 504.3-2(D) paragraph c and 9 FAM 504.10-5.)