Wednesday, September 9, 2015

USCIS Announces New Procedures for Filing Adjustment of Status Visa Applications for Individuals Who Are Subject to Immigrant Visa Backlogs

On Wednesday, September 9, 2015, USCIS announced revisions to its procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file for employment-based adjustment of status applications.  The revised process will be implemented in coordination with the Department of State (DOS), and will enhance the DOS’s ability to accurately predict overall visa demand.  It will, furthermore, help ensure that the maximum number of immigrant visas are issued annually as intended by Congress, and will minimize fluctuations in the monthly DOS Visa Bulletin’s final action dates.

Among the key changes proposed to the Visa Bulletin is the inclusion of two charts per visa preference category, including one for “Application Final Action Date” and one for “Dates for Filing Applications,” i.e., the earliest date an applicant may submit an application.  As a result, starting on October 1, 2015, applications with priority dates older than those listed in the newly created Visa Bulletin chart will be able to file their employment-based adjustment of status applications. These will only be approved when the priority dates become current, but the applicants will benefit immediately by filing for temporary employment cards for themselves and any eligible dependents, with options for extending employment cards until the adjustment of status applications are finally granted.

The DOS Visa Bulletin revisions reflect the executive actions on immigration announced by President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson in November 2014, and are intended to better align with procedures DOS currently uses for foreign nationals applying for U.S. permanent residency abroad.

For more information, please see the related USCIS alert

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