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

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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 government has adjusted Dates for Filing Applications for some Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based preference categories 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 September 9, 2015, Visa Bulletin, 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 US issues the maximum number of immigrant visas annually as Congress intended, and to minimize month-to-month fluctuations in Visa Bulletin final action dates.

The Visa Bulletin revisions implement November 2014 executive actions on immigration as detailed in the Obama White House report, Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century (July 2015).

What is Changing

The DOS Visa Bulletin will post two charts in each Visa Bulletin, beginning with the October 2015 issue:

  • 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 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 availability of additional visas, USCIS will compare the number of visas available for the remainder of the fiscal year with:

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

About the Visa Bulletin

DOS publishes current immigrant visa availability information in a monthly Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin indicates availability of statutorily limited visas based on 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 an applicant’s immigrant visa petition (I-140) also requires a labor certification, the priority date is the date that the US Department of Labor (DOL) accepted that labor certification application for processing.

Immigrant visa availability means that eligible applicants can take one of the final steps in the process of becoming US permanent residents.

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