State Department Publishes Waiting List Stats

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) handles visa applications for aspiring immigrants whose cases will be processed overseas at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The DOS visa waiting list tracks the number of applicants in visa categories who are subject to numerical limits. In consultation with the National Visa Center in Portsmouth, NH, the DOS recently disclosed the total number of applicants currently on its visa waiting list, including both family-based and employment-based applicants, and their spouses / dependents. [See Annual Report of Immigrant Visa Applicants in the Family-sponsored and Employment-based preferences Registered at the National Visa Center as of November 1, 2012, DOS WebSite.]

The good news is that, overall, the DOS visa waiting list for employment-based visas shrank by 8.3 percent during the past fiscal year. The DOS reports the following.

  • First preference – 2,547 applicants were on the waiting list in fiscal year (FY) 2013 – as of November, 2012 – compared to 2,118 in FY12, an increase of 20.3 percent. Indian nationals make up 7.5 percent of this list, with 190 applicants in this category.
  • Second preference – 6,892 applicants were on the waiting list in FY13, compared to 6,892 in FY12, a negligible increase of 0.1 percent. Indian nationals are heavily represented in this category, at 54.3 percent and 3,742 applicants.
  • Third preference – 99,978 total in FY13, including 86,862 skilled workers and 13,116 other workers, a drop of 10.8 percent compared to FY12, when the totals were 112,023, 97,060, and 14,963, respectively. Indian nationals comprise 24.6 percent of the skilled workers in this category, with 21,380 applicants, and 4.5 percent of the “other workers” category, with 590 applicants.
  • Fourth preference – 479 on the waiting list in FY13, compared to 498 in FY12, a drop of 3.8 percent. Indian nationals comprise 25.1 percent of this category’s waiting list, with 120 applicants.
  • Fifth preference – 3,162 on the FY13 waiting list, up 75.1 percent from FY12, when only 1,806 were on the list. No separate statistics are available for Indian applicants in this category.

The DOS cautions that these statistics only represent a subset of cases – those following the consular-processing route – and don’t count cases pending with the USCIS. Moreover, the DOS notes that waiting list totals for employment-based categories “significantly understate real immigrant demand,” because “eighty-six percent of all employment preference immigrants were processed as adjustment-of-status cases at USCIS offices during FY12.” That said; this is a useful statistical snapshot for employment-based immigrant visa applicants and their families, whose path to the United States will run through a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.