Quick Takeaways

  • U.S. Consulates abroad issued record numbers of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas over the first half of Fiscal Year 2024 (October 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024)
  • Economic impact of increase visa issuance is immense, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue and tens of millions of U.S. jobs
  • Use of enhanced technologies and interview waivers credited for increased capacity 
  • Amid record output for large portion of U.S. Consulate abroad, processing in Canada and Mexico has yet to exceed, much less meet, pre-pandemic levels

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of State released a glowing report for the first half of Fiscal Year 2024, recounting an uptick from the record-setting pace of Fiscal Year 2023 with even more impressive figures for immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing between October 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024. Some of the report’s most impressive statistics include: 

  • 5.2 million nonimmigrant visas issued worldwide, the most ever over the same period in previous years;
  • Of these 5.2 million nonimmigrant visas, 4.1 million were either B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas or Border Crossing Cards;
  • U.S. Consulates in Mexico, India, Brazil, China, Colombia, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador collectively processed record numbers of B Visas, approximately. 2.75 million B Visas (nearly two-thirds of the worldwide output);
  • Approximately 135,000 J-1 Visas and 115,000 F-1/M-1 Visas were issued over this period;
  • A record-breaking 205,000 nonimmigrant visas went to H-2A/H-2B seasonal workers;
  • U.S. Consulates issued more than 281,000 immigrant visas during the first half of Fiscal Year 2024;
  • Approximately 54 percent of those immigrant visas (more than 152,000) went to immediate relatives (i.e., spouses, children, and parents) of U.S. Citizens, which is a record for this period of time; and
  • In total, 25,000 employment-based immigrant visas were issued, a 75 percent increase from the first six months of Fiscal Year 2019 (i.e., the six months preceding and/or covering the first weeks of the COVID-19 global pandemic). 

The economic impact of improved visa processing is palpable. As per the Department of State’s report, international visitors generate nearly $240 billion annually and support almost 10 million U.S. jobs. More specifically, international students contributed upwards of $40 billion to the U.S. economy in 2022 and supported in excess of 335,000 U.S. jobs, meaning an increase in international student visa issuance could drive these numbers even higher. Even more, the Department of State’s ramping-up its issuance of immediate relative immigrant visas – and, by extension, achieving its mission to reunify families in the United States – is overwhelmingly positive from an economic and community standpoint.

While U.S. Consulates abroad are putting-up record-setting numbers over the sixth-month period in question, operations at our closest U.S. Consulates in Canada and Mexico have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. With that, visa applicants looking to take a quick trip north or south to get a new visa, or visa applicants residing in these countries, remain unable to secure an interview for months and months on end. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic that Canadian and Mexican-based U.S. Consulates will improve visa operations and interview offerings over the second half of Fiscal Year 2024 and will update our readers as soon as we receive actionable information to that effect. 

As always, if you have any questions regarding immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing at U.S. Consulates abroad, please contact our Firm.

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