USCIS To Decide Each Month How It Acts On the State Department’s Visa Bulletin

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today that is will determine on a month by month basis whether or not it will accept adjustment of status applications based on the Department of State’s monthly Visa Bulletin “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” chart.

The Department of State revised the October Visa Bulletin to include this chart, causing quite a stir. The new chart opened the door for applicants in backlogged categories to file adjustment applications for themselves and their family members in backlogged categories. This in turn opened the door for work authorization for spouses, portability, and other benefits associated with filing an adjustment of status application.

However, later in October, the Department of State issued a revised Visa Bulletin, based on what it described as errors with the earlier Bulletin. Unfortunately, many relied on the earlier Visa Bulletin in hiring attorneys, seeking medical examinations, and otherwise preparing to file adjustments of status. The matter, referred to by some as “Visagate”, is now being litigated in the U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington.

Meanwhile, we have today’s announcement, pasted below, that USCIS will decide month to month whether to accept applications based on the revised Visa Bulletin. This decision seems contrary to the original spirit of the change of the Visa Bulletin, which was intended to implement President Obama’s Executive Actions of 2014 for streamlining processes. So far, there haven’t been many successes with the Executive Actions, as protracted court action and bureaucracy issues such as this have tied things up.

Here’s the USCIS announcement, issued October 14, 2015:

Beginning with the November 2015 Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin, if USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, we will state on that applicants may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart. Unless otherwise stated on our website, the Application Final Action Date chart will be used to determine when individuals may file their adjustment of status applications.

We anticipate making this determination each month and posting the relevant chart on our website within one week of DOS’ publication of the Visa Bulletin.

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 date.

The priority date is generally the date when the applicant’s relative or employer properly filed the immigrant visa petition on the applicant’s behalf with USCIS. If a labor certification is required to be filed with the applicant’s immigrant visa petition, then the priority date is when the labor certification application was accepted for processing by Department of Labor.

Availability of an immigrant visa means eligible applicants are able to take one of the final steps in the process of becoming U.S. permanent residents.