Changes to Visa Bulletin Reflecting New Filing Procedures for Permanent Residence Applications

On September 9, 2015, USCIS and the Department of State announced new procedures for processing immigrant visa applications and for filing of Adjustment of Status (I-485) applications.  The new procedures will allow for an earlier submission of documents for immigrant visa applications for those who seek to obtain immigrant visas through U.S. Consulates.  The new procedures will also allow for earlier filing of Adjustment of Status applications with USCIS during the allowed months.   These changes in procedures apply to both family-based and employment-based immigrant visa categories.

Beginning with the October 2015 Visa Bulletin, Visa Bulletins issued by the Department of State will have two charts per visa preference category: Application Final Action Dates and Dates for Filing Applications charts.  Application Final Action Dates refer to the dates when the visas may finally be issued.  Dates for Filing Applications refer to the earliest dates when applicants may be able to apply.

Beginning in October, applicants for immigrant visas will be able to submit documents and begin their application process when two things happen:
1. Their priority dates are earlier than the date listed on the Dates for Filing Applications chart for their preference category, and
2. They have been notified by the National Visa Center that they may submit the documents
However, the decision on their immigrant visa applications cannot be made until their priority dates are earlier than the date listed on the Application Final Action Dates chart.

For applicants for Adjustment of Status, the general rule is to use the date listed on the Application Final Action Dates chart of their preference category to determine their eligibility to submit their Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) Applications to USCIS.  If their priority dates are earlier than the date listed on the pertinent Application Final Action Dates chart, then they are eligible to submit their I-485 Applications in that month.  However, if the month’s Visa Bulletin indicates that they may use the date listed on the Dates for Filing Applications chart, then they can use the earlier date listed on the Dates for Filing Applications chart to file their I-485 Applications for that month.  Nonetheless, final decisions on their applications will not be made until their priority dates become current on the Application Final Action Dates chart.

For the month of October 2015, the Visa Bulletin allows applicants for Adjustment of Status to use the date listed on the Date for Filing Applications charts.  Therefore, in October 2015,  applicants for Adjustment of Status will benefit from being able to file their applications sooner.

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