Strict federal rules lead to thousands of unissued visas

On Behalf of | May 23, 2023 | Immigration Law

Every year, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives tens of thousands of applications for visas in a variety of different programs, and the process of reviewing those applications can be very lengthy. The extensive background checks, medical reviews and interviews required for most visas and immigration programs take a long time to complete.

There is so much work involved, in fact, that USCIS often fails to approve its allocated number of visas in certain programs. Although USCIS does have a limit on the number of visas that it can award in many programs each year, it does not have a rule forcing it to grant all available visas. As a result, each year, thousands of unused visas expire, depriving workers of opportunities and employers of the talent they need to run successful companies.

Lawmakers have started discussing those visas

In 2022, lawmakers proposed a bill, which became known as the EAGLE Act, which suggested several immigration changes. One of the most significant would have been a rule allowing USCIS to roll over unused visas and grant them to applicants in later years. Such a rule could potentially lead to tens of thousands of employment opportunities for skilled workers from other countries.

Although there was tepid support for the law initially, there was also criticism from both sides of the aisle. While the EAGLE Act did die in the lame-duck session at the end of 2022 and will not become law, public awareness of those unused visas could very well lead to policy changes in the future. Lawmakers may find other ways to turn those unused visas into opportunities for both domestic businesses and skilled foreign workers. In the meantime, those seeking to enter the country will need to maintain a long-term perspective on the process, as it could require several attempts to succeed.

Tracking proposed changes to key immigration policies can benefit both individuals hoping to enter the country for employment and businesses hoping to use visas to bring talent into the United States. Seeking legal guidance, whenever necessary, can be helpful as well.