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“USCIS Accepting I-485 Sooner Under New Visa Bulletin”

By Peter F. Asaad

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in coordination with the Department of State (DOS), has provided earlier dates for when an applicant may apply for adjustment of status under new procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file the employment-based or family-sponsored Application for Adjustment of Status, I-485.

The revised Visa Bulletin revisions is pursuant to the November 2014 executive actions on immigration announced by President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson, as detailed in the White House report, Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st century, issued in July 2015. This will help ensure all statutorily allowed immigrant visas are issued annually as intended by Congress and to minimize month-to-month fluctuations in Visa Bulletin final action dates.

What is Changing Under the Revised Visa Bulletin

There are now two charts per visa preference category that will be posted in the Department of State Visa Bulletin rather than a single chart:

  • “Application Final Action Dates” (providing the date when immigrant visas/”green cards” may finally be issued); and
  • (New) “Dates for Filing Applications” (offering the date when applicants may be able to apply).

The October Visa Bulletin:”Dates for Filing Applications” (The Date When Applicants May Submit the I-485)

These dates are earlier in time than what is expected based on previous month’s visa bulletins.  They are also earlier in time than the actual dates when the immigrant visa/”green card” may be finally issued.  Although these “dates for filing applications” do not represent when the applicant can finally obtain a green card, these dates are earlier dates that allow for earlier filing of the I-485 application.  This helps USCIS ensure that the maximum allowed immigrant visas/”green Cards” are issued each month.

The change effectively enables one to receive the benefits of a pending application for adjustment of status earlier.

Those benefits include:

  • EAD, Employment Authorization Document for the Principal Applicant and Family Members;
  • AP, Advanced Parole for the Principal Applicant and Family Members; and
  • Future Portability of the Green Card After 180 Days of a Pending I-485 have Accrued;
  • Other Benefits of a Pending Applicant for Adjustment of Status Including Lawful Presence, DMV, and Other Benefits

If your priority date (date of filing your PERM or petition) precedes the cut-off date listed below, contact our office to file the I-485 in October.

Employment-Based

Employment-
Based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01MAY14 01JUL11 C C
3rd 01SEP15 01OCT13 01JUL05 01SEP15 01JAN15
Other Workers 01SEP15 01JAN07 01JUL05 01SEP15 01JAN15
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious
Workers
C C C C C
5th Targeted
Employment Areas/
Regional Centers
and Pilot Programs
C 01MAY15 C C C

Family-Based

Family-
Sponsored
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 01MAY09 01MAY09 01MAY09 01JUL95 01SEP05
F2A 01MAR15 01MAR15 01MAR15 01MAR15 01MAR15
F2B 01JUL10 01JUL10 01JUL10 01JAN96 01JAN05
F3 01APR05 01APR05 01APR05 01OCT96 01AUG95
F4 01FEB04 01FEB04 01FEB04 01MAY98 01JAN93

Each month, in coordination with DOS, USCIS will monitor visa numbers and post the relevant DOS Visa Bulletin chart. Applicants can use the charts to determine when to file their Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

To determine whether additional visas are available, USCIS will compare the number of visas available for the remainder of the fiscal year with:

  • Documentarily qualified visa applicants reported by DOS;
  • Pending adjustment of status applications reported by USCIS; and
  • Historical drop off rate (for example, denials, withdrawals, abandonments).

Learn More and Get Assistance

DOS publishes current immigrant visa availability information in a monthly Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin indicates when statutorily limited visas are available to prospective immigrants based on their individual priority date.

  • The priority date is generally the date when the applicant’s relative or employer properly filed the immigrant visa petition on the applicant’s behalf with USCIS. If a labor certification is required to be filed with the applicant’s immigrant visa petition, then the priority date is when the labor certification application was accepted for processing by Department of Labor.
  • Availability of an immigrant visa means eligible applicants are able to take one of the final steps in the process of becoming U.S. permanent residents.

Adjustment of Status Infographic