Many significant changes have been announced in the latest October 2015 Visa Bulletin, released by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Although we had heard speculation that the monthly visa bulletins would include individual cutoff date charts for each individual visa category, we weren’t sure when it would go into effect. In this October 2015 visa bulletin predictions & analysis we’ll describe each update as it pertains to the immigration category and offer some future predictions.
Changes with the October 2015 Visa Bulletin
Effective this Oct. 1st you’ll notice that the monthly bulletins will have one chart that is labeled “application final action dates” (FA) and a separate chart that has the “dates for filing visa applications” (DF) listed. The first chart basically functions for the same purpose as the normal cutoff chart we saw in past visa bulletins.
The DF chart will permit applicants to go ahead with applications for adjustments of status earlier than the previous visa bulletin format. This is due to the fact that these cutoff dates will tend to be later than those on the Final Action chart.
Details of the DF Chart
As previously mentioned, the “dates for filing visa applications” is a new addition to the visa bulletin system. It serves a dual purpose; the first is applicable to cases that have been filed for consular processing. Individuals with a priority date (PD) that is earlier than the corresponding DF date will be notified to get together and submit any required documents to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Note that this change will not likely affect foreign national applicants since the immigration visas for these cases will still be approved according to the FA cutoff dates.
Advantages for Foreign Nationals in U.S.
There are advantages this new system possesses for foreign nationals within the U.S. Moving forward the visa bulletins may indicate ability for foreign nationals in the U.S. to use the DF for their adjustments of status. Since the Date for Filing chart for the oversubscribed may be earlier than the FA dates, it can potentially reduce years from the eligibility wait to file I-485s.
Expedited Lawful Permanent Status?
This new visa bulletin system is welcome news for many immigrants waiting for their priority dates to become current. With these changes, we must acknowledge that the earlier filing of an I-485 does not necessarily correlate to faster lawful permanent status (getting a green card). However, that can mean that accompanying benefits (of a pending I-485) of employment authorization, for instance, are available earlier.
Reduced wait times are the most significant change as the result of this new visa bulletin system. That being said, individuals from China or India will most likely still have to wait years before they get eligibility to file.
The EB-4 and EB-1 categories remain current for all countries in regards to the DF and FA chart. Notice that the EB-4 subcategory for “certain religious workers’ is currently unavailable for the FA chart however it is current on the DF chart.
The religious workers category is unavailable on the FA chart because this special immigrant category actually expires on Sept. 30 so assuming Congress doesn’t take action to extend it, the program will terminate. See below for FA cutoff dates:
Second Preference (EB2) Category
For all countries of chargeability (minus India and China), both charts are current.
EB-2: The cutoff date for India on the FA chart is May 1, 2005. The DF chart shows the cutoff date as of July 1, 2011. The FA cutoff date for China is Jan. 1, 2012 while the DF date is May 1, 2014.
Third Preference (EB3) Category
For all EB3 categories, the FA chart shows a date of August 15th, 2015 and the DF chart shows a cutoff date of Sept. 1, 2015. Meanwhile, EB-3 China has a cutoff date of Oct. 1, 2011 on the DF chart. EB-3 India has a cutoff of March 8, 2004 on the FA chart and July 1, 2005 on the DF chart.
Other Workers: For the “other workers” category, the EB-3 cutoff date is the same as the other categories except “other workers” for China which is Jan. 1, 2006 for FA and Oct. 8, 2013 for DF.
Fifth Preference (EB-5) Category
The EB-5 category for the October 2015 Visa Bulletin is current for all countries of chargeability except China whose cutoff date is Oct. 8, 2013. You’ll notice that the EB-5 category is divided into two sections–cases filed for targeted employment areas and those filed with the pilot program.
For the targeted employment areas (TEAs/regional centers), the cutoff date is current on the FA chart except for China whose cutoff date is Oct. 8, 2013. Under the pilot program, data is unavailable altogether.
Family-Based Preference Category
There are changes to the DF cutoff dates for the family-based preference category. See below for APPLICATION FINAL ACTION DATES FOR
FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCE CASES:
Is Your Priority Date Current?
Based on this newly released October 2015 Visa Bulletin, if your priority date is current it’s important to contact our Fort Lauderdale immigration lawyers as soon as possible! Our office offers comprehensive immigration consultations for employment-based cases as well as selected family-based cases.
Fill out this form to schedule an initial consultation with one of our Green Card Attorneys. Also, be sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter to receive the most up-to-date immigration information.