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Revised October 2015 Visa Bulletin and Revised Procedures to Determine Visa Availability

H-1B premium processing resumesOn September 25, 2015, the Department of State (DOS) published a revised October 2015 Visa Bulletin superseding the original October 2015 Visa Bulletin published September 9, 2015. The Dates for Filing Applications for some categories in the Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based preference categories have been adjusted to better reflect a timeframe justifying immediate action.

Applicants should use the September 25, 2015, revised charts when filing an I-485 adjustment of status (see Employment-Based Priority Dates and Family-Based Priority Dates). DHS will rely on this revised October 2015 Visa Bulletin rather than the bulletin published September 9, 2015, when considering eligibility to file an I-485 adjustment of status application.

The Dates for Filing Applications chart is a part of the revised procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file for adjustment of status that USCIS announced on September 9, 2015. Continue reading below for more information.

USCIS Revises Procedures for Determining Visa Availability

USCIS, in coordination with Department of State (DOS), is revising the procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file for employment-based or family-sponsored preference adjustment of status. The revised process will better align with procedures DOS uses for foreign nationals who seek to become US permanent residents by applying for immigrant visas at US consulates and embassies abroad.

This revised process will enhance DOS’s ability to more accurately predict overall immigrant visa demand and determine the cut-off dates for visa issuance published in the Visa Bulletin (see Employment-Based Priority Dates and Family-Based Priority Dates) This will help ensure that the maximum number of immigrant visas are issued annually as intended by Congress, and minimize month-to-month fluctuations in Visa Bulletin final action dates.

The Visa Bulletin revisions implement 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.

What is Changing

Two charts per visa preference category will be posted in the DOS Visa Bulletin beginning with the October 2015 Visa Bulletin:

  • Application Final Action Dates (dates when visas may finally be issued); and,
  • Dates for Filing Applications (earliest dates when applicants may be able to apply).

Each month USCIS and DOS will monitor visa numbers and post the relevant DOS Visa Bulletin chart. Applicants can use the charts to determine when they are eligible to file 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).

About the Visa Bulletin

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 dates.

A priority date is generally the date when an applicant’s relative or employer properly filed an immigrant visa petition (I-140) on an applicant’s behalf with USCIS. If a labor certification is required to be filed along with an applicant’s immigrant visa petition (I-140), the priority date is the date the labor certification application was accepted for processing by the US Department of Labor (DOL).

Availability of an immigrant visa means eligible applicants can take one of the final steps in the process of becoming US permanent residents.

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