State Department to Alleviate Immigrant Visa Application Backlogs with Tiered System

Last Updated on February 23, 2023


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.