The U.S. State Department has announced that it will begin using a tiered system at U.S. Embassies and Consulates to reduce immigrant visa application backlogs. While visa applications for family reunification will be prioritized, embassies and consulates will schedule some appointments in all four categories each month.

What are the Changes?

The State Department will divide immigrant visa applications into four tiers based on priority. Immigrant visas are persons applying for lawful permanent residence (“green cards”) from outside the U.S. Employment-based immigrant visas will belong to Tier 4.

  • Tier One: Certain Special Immigrant Visas, immediate relative intercountry adoption visas and age-out cases, which are cases where children will soon no longer qualify due to their age
  • Tier Two: Immediate relative visas, fiancé visas and returning resident visas
  • Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain U.S. government employees located abroad
  • Tier Four: All other remaining immigrant visas, including diversity and employment-based visas

Looking Ahead

The State Department has noted that processing delays in all categories should be expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Envoy Global and Global Immigration Associates (GIA) will continue to provide updates as they become available.

Originally published 6 May 2021

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