Clarity and Strength in Immigration Law

Visa Bulletin August 2013: Act Now – Don’t Miss Your Chance!

Act Fast to Take Advantage of What May be a Narrow Window of Opportunity and Secure Your Chance for Permanent Residence!

 The long-awaited and much-anticipated visa bulletin for August 2013 was published today! We are happy to report that previous predictions have come true, and there are significant advances in multiple categories. This post will focus on the employment-based visa bulletin numbers (especially the August 2013 visa bulletin dates for EB-2 India). The next post will focus on the family-based visa bulletin.

As many people know by now, the priority date for the EB-2 / India category will be 01 JAN 2008 starting August 1, 2013. Read on for more, even if you are not in the EB-2/India category!

A Basic Overview of Priority Dates

For a basic review of what a priority date is and why it matters, check out this link.

What if I wasn’t born in India or my employment-based category is not EB-2?

The entire visa bulletin for August 2013 is posted immediately below. First, find the country you were born in (not the country you are a citizen of). Note that if you were not born in China, India, Mexico, or the Philippines, you fall into “all chargeability areas.” Then find your employment-based category – EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, etc. Then look at the date in your “box.” If there is the letter “C”, this stands for “current.” That means that a visa (i.e. green card) is immediately available in the month of August. Remember, you must have an approved labor certification (or have filed or be ready to file the I-140 petition if you are exempt from the labor certification, like Schedule A, or NIW or EB-1) to file the I-485.

Employment- Based

All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed

CHINA- mainland born

INDIA

MEXICO

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

C

C

C

C

2nd

C

08AUG08

01JAN08

C

C

3rd

01JAN09

01JAN09

22JAN03

01JAN09

22OCT06

Other Workers

01JAN09

22MAR04

22JAN03

01JAN09

22OCT06

4th

C

C

C

C

C

Certain Religious Workers

C

C

C

C

C

5th
Targeted
Employment Areas/
Regional Centers and Pilot Programs

C

C

C

C

C

 

Next, find the situation below that best applies to you. Please keep in mind that each immigration case is different, so you should consult an experienced immigration attorney before you take or refrain from taking any action.

My Labor Certification is Approved and I Have Not Yet Filed the I-140 or I-485

  • If your priority date is current, you may be able to file the I-140 and I-485 concurrently in August.
  • If your priority date is not yet current but the labor certification is approved, you can file the I-140 petition.

My I-140 Petition is Approved, But I Have Not Yet Filed the I-485 Application for Permanent Residence

If your I-140 petition is approved and your priority date is now current, you can file the I-485 now for you and immediate family members. If you have changed employers and no longer work for the employer who filed your labor certification, you should consult with an attorney before filing for permanent residence.

If your date is not yet current, make sure you check the visa bulletin each month to ensure you file when the date is current.

If you are ready to file the I-485, please keep in mind that you do not have to use the same attorney who filed the labor certification and/or I-140 petition. In many instances, you will have already moved on from the employer who originally filed for you, or there may be other reasons you chose to use another attorney. The I-485 is an applicant-based process; that is, aside from a letter of employment, there is no action or signature required from your employer. Therefore, the applicant is free to choose whatever attorney he/she feels comfortable with to file the I-485. If you need assistance with the I-485 filing, please contact our office at 804-396-3412 or at esumner@sumnerimmigration.com.

Best Practices for Filing the I-485:

  • File soon! Don’t file before August 1 if your date is not current until then, but don’t wait until the 30th to file, either. While we at Sumner Immigration Law strongly believe in the power of positive thinking, our clients also rest easier (as do we!) when we all plan ahead and take action now. Remember, we  may only have the month of August to get the filings in. Even if you have triple-checked the package, sometimes forces of nature prevent a timely filing, and USCIS may or may not care and accept your package.
    • Example: in the summer of 2007, the visa bulletin opened up for all categories. It was an awesome summer and we filed literally hundreds of I-485 applications. All applications were filed before the last week to file, except for three straggler cases where the applicants just did not get us the documents until literally the last day. We filed for overnight delivery via FedEx. There was a massive thunderstorm in Richmond with 37 lightning strikes to the ground in a 2 hour period. Guess what plane didn’t take off for the FedEx hub due to “Acts of God”? The FedEx plane with our 3 packages. In the end, with the help of AILA and the mercy of USCIS, the packages were accepted but there was absolutely no guarantee.
  • But do not file too soon! Everyone is very excited about the August visa bulletin and busy preparing for the filings. But remember, the August 2013 visa bulletin dates are not effective until August 1. If you file for delivery before then and your date is not yet current, your package will be returned along with your filing fees. That may not sound bad, but it sometimes takes USCIS a few weeks to return improperly filed packages. It could be that you don’t receive the package until September, and it’s possible that then the dates would not be current.
  • Likewise, triple-check your filings. At Sumner Immigration Law, we literally have a three-level review process to avoid the return of packages for small but fatal mistakes. Make sure all proper boxes are checks, the checks are included, signed, written for the correct amounts, etc. One small mistake can cause your filing to be returned, which could cause you to miss this narrow window of opportunity!
  • Beware red flags! Just because you have an approved labor certification and/or I-140 petition does not mean you are eligible. There are a number of grounds of inadmissibility for permanent residence including certain criminal problems, immigration status violation issues and other issues. If you have any doubt regarding your eligibility, consult with an experienced immigration attorney before filing. Otherwise filing can sometimes do more harm than good.

If Your I-485 Has Been Filed and Is Pending with USCIS:

If you have received a request for evidence from USCIS (see this post), make sure to respond fully to the RFE as soon as possible. USCIS cannot and will not approve your green card application until they receive the response. Keep in mind that even if the dates are current for August there is no guarantee as to how long they will remain current. The dates may retrogress again in September or later. Therefore it’s imperative that you file the response now to increase your chances of approval.

If you have not received an RFE or if you have already responded and if your case is pending with the Texas Service Center, you may want to ask your attorney to follow up with the Service Center to remind them that the priority date is current (in August). 

Conclusion: 

We are very excited for our clients whose cases are positively affected by the August 2013 visa bulletin. If you need assistance in any way with your filing, whether you are a current client or a new client, please contact us immediately at 804-396-3412 or at esumner@sumnerimmigration.com and we will be happy to assist you in attaining your goals, with excellent client service along the way!