State Department to Alleviate Immigrant Visa Application Backlogs with Tiered System

May 6, 2021 Anne Walsh


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.

Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Anne Walsh, who is a Partner at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (, Envoy’s affiliated law firm.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.

About the Author

Anne is a Partner with Global Immigration Associates. In this role, she provides counsel for companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 corporations and their foreign national employees. Anne’s practice focuses on obtaining visas and employment-based green cards in all categories; immigration compliance arising from corporate changes, such as reorganizations and restructuring; and office relocations and company immigration policies and best practices. She also has extensive experience preparing and reviewing business immigration filings, requests for further evidence and appeals, and in researching and analyzing immigration statutes, policy and procedure. Anne works with clients in several industries, including software, cloud technology, manufacturing and electronics. In addition to her employment-based practice, Anne provides counsel for individuals pursuing visas and green cards through family relationships.

More Content by Anne Walsh
Previous Article
USCIS Expected to Suspend Biometrics Requirements for Certain Applications
USCIS Expected to Suspend Biometrics Requirements for Certain Applications

Effective May 17, 2021, USCIS is expected to remove biometrics requirements for certain dependent applicant...

Next Article
The Schengen Zone: Everything You Need to Know
The Schengen Zone: Everything You Need to Know

The Schengen Area, also called the “Schengen Zone,” consists of 26 countries across Europe.