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Visa Guru Charlie Oppenheim Agrees There Are Unused Visas

As many of my readers will know, over the summer there was much discussion about whether there were unused visas and whethey they could be recaptured.  Various newspapers had reported about 200,000 visas remain unused. The recaputuring of those visas would reduce the severe visa backlog.  Here is my article: Unused Visas- To Recapture or Not to Recapture, That Is The Question”

As a result, through AILA, I asked Charlie Oppenheim to confirm whether there were indeed unused visas.  Here is what he said (see below): Copied from AILA.  I want to extend a huge thank you to Mr. Oppenheim on behalf of myself and my readers for taking the time to read my questions, and to AILA for taking my questions to him.


Member Question Regarding Unused Visa Numbers
An AILA member posed a series of questions following news reports of an estimated 200,000 unused visas which could be recaptured through administrative action.

Charlie agrees that there are approximately 220,000 family and employment-based visas that have gone unused, most of which can be attributed to the period between 1992 and 1997. Prior to the “dot com bubble,” demand was usually insufficient to use all of the available employment-based visa numbers in any given fiscal year. Since then, the increase in demand for labor in the IT sector and improved interagency processes have contributed to greater use of employment-based visa numbers in the fiscal year for which they were allocated. In the past, such unused numbers have only been recaptured through legislative action.


Now that we have confirmation that there are 220,000 visas to recapture, what can be done about it? Would legislation be necessary to recapture? The law does not specifically discuss roll-overs in these categories (see my chart in the previous article).  I would ask the Administration to look at reinterpreting the law.  The law already allows for the recapturing of unused visas.  Recapturing those would significantly reduce the visa backlog which would in turn help American businesses hire skilled-immigrants as well as would-be entrepreneurs who are otherwise stuck ‘in the line’ preventing them from starting their own companies and creating jobs.

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