Is USCIS Wasting Green Card Spillover in 2021 (Hopes are alive?)

USCIS has approved only 17k GC in second quarter vs 27k in first. It may waste most of GC spillover in 2021 if speed of approvals is not increased immediately.

Written by AM22Tech Team
  AM22Tech Team    Updated 19 Jul, 21

Charles Oppenheim has shared in his Aug 2021 video chat that USCIS is on track to waste more than 100k Green card numbers due to limited i485 processing capacity.

USCIS has released their quarterly data for i485 employment-based approvals between Oct 2020 to Mar 2021 and the numbers do not look encouraging.

USCIS has only approved 17,896 Green cards between 1 Jan 2021 to 31 Mar 2021. The number is even lower than their first-quarter i485 approvals which stood at 27,485.

USCIS i485 approvals up to Mar 31 2021
USCIS i485 approvals up to Mar 31, 2021

You can see this official USCIS 2021 second-quarter data here.

The total number of employment-based green cards available for the fiscal year 2021 is about 262,000 and USCIS has only used 45,381 in 6 months. Going by this rate, USCIS may not only waste the complete spillover of 122k but will also not be able to use the normal 140k GCs.

As per linear mathematics, if USCIS has to catch up from 1 Apr to 30 Sep 2021, they will have to get into Tesla mode which seems like an uphill task at this time.

These are the number of GCs that need to be approved per quarter if USCIS has to avoid wastage or use most of them with a good amount of lost green cards.

Quarter i-485 Approved 0% Wastage 20% Wastage (52k) 50% Wastage (131k)
1 Oct-31 Dec 2020 27,485 NA NA NA
1 Jan-31 Mar 2021 17,896 NA NA NA
1 Apr-30 Jun 2021 NA 108,310 82,110 42,810
1 Jul-30 Sep 2021 NA 108,310 82,110 42,810

This simply means that USCIS needs to approve:

  • 36,100 i485 per month for 0% wastage
  • 27,370/ month with 20% wastage which is the same as what they approved in 3 months (quarter 1)
  • 14,270/month with 50% wastage which is close to what they achieved in the first 3 months of 2021

Do you think USCIS will be able to catch up in next 6 months and do justice here?

USCIS Approval Speed for Next Quarter

The State department’s Charles Oppenheim is regularly moving the Visa bulletin ahead hoping that USCIS will be able to use all or most of the spillover. We do not know if USCIS and DOS are talking to each other on monthly updates with respect to how much they can achieve by Sep 2021 end.

Nobody knows but we found a strange correlation between the monthly visa bulletin and the number of i485 approvals between the first two quarters.

USCIS visa bulletin comparison Oct 2020 June 2021
USCIS visa bulletin comparison Oct 2020 July 2021

If you look carefully, the red square in the image shows the sudden jumps that both EB2 India Final action and the Date of the filing have taken starting the Mar 2021 visa bulletin.

  • VB dates were moving by less than 4 weeks at a time until Feb bulletin
  • Suddenly, it started moving ahead by multiple months after Mar 2021

Does this mean that USCIS increased the pace of i-485 approvals starting April 2021? Did USCIS share this information with Charles Oppenheim so that he can advance the bulletin at a higher pace?

Well, some attorneys including Emily Neumann from RN Law firm believe that USCIS usually approves more i-485 in the second half of the year than what they do in the first half. They have shared this opinion in their weekly video chats that they host on their YouTube channel.

USCIS Cannot use Spillover Until Last Quarter?

A very good point has been made by immigration lawyer William stock that USCIS is legally obliged to not use the spillover numbers until the last quarter which is 1 July 2021.

This also strengthens our hypothesis of VB movements as shown above.

Can the slow approvals in the early quarters be attributed to medical RFEs?

Many attorneys say that since USCIS needs to send and receive medical RFEs, the first six months are usually slow. Once they have got the i693 forms, the approvals and Green card printing is fast.

We hope that this is true and if it is in sync with the visa bulletin trend, it is possible that USCIS reaches their target by year-end may only waste about 10-20% of the GCs if not all.

A user by the name of @eternal_eb has shared the past trends on twitter reply to Anirban Das:

Keeping in mind the above figures, it does seem that USCIS is well on its way to lose all Green cards this year unless courts intervene and do something for high skilled immigrants.


If the GC numbers are wasted, it will be inhumane and will affect Indian nationals’ disproportionality as they are the only ones bearing the most backlogged employment-based category at this time.

As per the law, if USCIS does not use up all GC numbers, they will be wasted and may trigger the slow or retrogression of VB dates for Indians pretty soon.

David Bier has expressed the shock that current speed of approving i485 is even slower than 2019.

The good news is that Greg Siskind and his team with @ckuck are ready to file a lawsuit to avoid this wastage of Green cards just because USCIS does not have the capacity to process them within the given timelines. Our opinion on whether you should join the Green card lawsuit or not.

Quarter 1 i485 Approvals

David Bier from the CATO institute had projected that USCIS might be on the way to waste most of the Oct 2020 spillover if not all, based on their Oct-Dec 2020 i485 processing data.

This file shows the number of i485 filed and approved in the first quarter of 2021.

i485 approved data USCIS Oct to Dec 2020
i485 approved data USCIS Oct to Dec 2020


Written by AM22Tech Team
  AM22Tech Team     

Recent discussion on forum

  1. Kalpesh_Dalwadi

    This is not good. Seems like almost certain that much more GCs can get wasted :frowning:

  2. anonymous120

    Charlie may not increase the Eb2/Eb3 FAD anymore seeing these numbers for the rest of the year.

  3. Gaurav_Bhatnagar1

    Can @amtech22 make predictions on up till which Priority date in both EB2 and EB3 will get Green Cards in Hand if out of the 262,000

    • 100,000 Visas are used
    • 125,000 Visas are used
    • 150,000 Visas are used
    • 200,000 Visas are used

  4. Gaurav_Bhatnagar1

    Thanks @anil_am22 .This app provides insight into Priority Date becoming current .
    I was looking Predictions 1 step further i.e after the I-485 packet has been submitted , up till which dates will EB2 and EB3 be getting Green Cards. I understand there is no calculation possible , still asking.

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