The Department of State announced on April 30, 2021 that U.S. embassies and consulates are using a Tiered approach to triage immigrant visa applications to address the backlog in the process of immigrant visas. The four priority tiers include:
-Tier 1: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), and certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government)
-Tier 2: Immediate relative visas, fiance(e) visas, and returning resident visas
-Tier 3: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad
-Tier 4: All other immigrant visas, including employment preferences and diversity visas
Many embassies and consulates continue to have a significant backlog of all categories of immigrant visas. The prioritization plan instructs posts to maximize their limited resources to accommodate as many immediate relative and fiance(e) cases as possible. The prioritization plan also instructs posts to schedule and adjudicate some cases in Tier 3 and 4 per month. Department of State recognizes that Tier 3 and 4 visa applicants will face continued delays. As a result of COVID the number of visas issued in the lower-priority preference categories or in such programs as the diversity visa program likely will not approach the statutory ceiling in FY 2021.