USCIS, in coordination with the Department of State (DOS), is revising procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file for employment-based or family-sponsored adjustment of status. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has just released the October 2015 Visa Bulletin, introducing different “approval” and “filing” cutoff dates, which are likely to allow many individuals to file I-485 applications starting in October.
Changes in the Immigrant Visa System
With the October 2015 Visa Bulletin, the DOS has announced a two-tier cutoff system, which is intended to allow applicants from oversubscribed countries (such as India and China) to file an adjustment of status application while they are waiting for their priority date to become current.
The “Application Final Action Dates” tier (which is consistent with prior Visa Bulletins) is the cutoff date which would determine when a pending I-485 or NVC/Consular immigrant visa case can be approved. The idea is for DOS to be able to track much more closely the use and availability of visa numbers so that the “Application Final Action Date” would reflect a more accurate date as to when a green card can be approved.
The major change is the introduction of the “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” cutoff date. This will be used by USCIS to indicate that there are more immigrant visas available for the fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas. When this is the case, the Visa Bulletin would indicate a cutoff date for Filing Visa Applications which is earlier (by few years in many cases) than the “Application Final Action Date,” and would allow those applicants (and their dependents) whose priority date is earlier than the applicable Filing Visa Applications date to file an I-485 application. Even though an approval of the I-485 cannot happen until the Application Final Action Date becomes current, the ability to file I-485 is going to provide an opportunity for family members to obtain work and travel authorization, in addition to the ability of the primary I-485 applicant to “port” or transfer their green card application to a new employer after it has been pending for 180 days.
Note that the language in the Visa Bulletin seems to suggest that the ability to file I-485s with a priority date earlier than the Filing Visa Applications cutoff date may not be available every month. We will monitor and seek clarification on this point and let you know as soon as we have more information.
This means that applicants with a priority date earlier than the Filing Visa Applications cutoff date are eligible to file an I-485 application (along with their family members) as of October 1, 2015.
Begin Preparing I-485 Adjustment of Status Applications for Eligible Applicants Now
The Immigration Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland is ready to assist individuals and companies to take advantage of this exciting opportunity. Many individuals who are the beneficiaries of approved I-140 petitions across many family-based and employment-based categories can now process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S., or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.
Please contact us if we can help you take advantage of this time-sensitive opportunity.
Amy Royalty, Janet Cheetham, Joel Paget and Marsha Mavunkel are attorneys in Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC’s Immigration Group. Amy can be reached at 206-654-2260 or [email protected]. Janet can be reached at 206.654.2235 or [email protected]. Joel can be reached at 206.654.2215 or [email protected]. Marsha can be reached at 206.654.2253 or [email protected].
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This message has been released by the Immigration Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.