The October 2015 visa bulletin was recently published. While the new visa bulletin is much anticipated each month, this month’s visa bulletin brought a much anticipated, major change: it is now possible to file the I-485 application for permanent residence before the priority date is current!
First, it is important to have a basic understanding of what the visa bulletin is. For more information on the visa bulletin and priority dates, please see this post. Until October’s visa bulletin, each visa bulletin had two charts, one for family-based cases and one for employment-based cases. To determine if a “green card” is available for a particular case, we would (and still do) look at the relevant visa bulletin chart according to the particular family-based or employment-based category and country of birth, and then look at the corresponding priority date. If a client’s priority date was before the date listed on the visa bulletin, we could then file the I-485 application for adjustment of status for the client.
Now, starting with the October 2015 visa bulletin, there are two charts for the family-based cases, and two charts for the employment-based cases. The first chart in each category is labeled “Final Action Dates.” This chart is still the chart we use to determine if a green card is available yet for a particular case. That is, the green card or immigrant visa cannot be approved until the priority date is current. Again, this is still true.
However there is now a second chart for each category called “Filing Date.” This chart tells us not when a green card is available, but when it is possible for someone to file the I-485 (based on their approved or pending family-based or employment-based petition). That is, unlike previously, it is now possible to file the I-485 before the priority date is current! Please keep in mind that your priority date still must be current per the “Filing Date” chart in the visa bulletin.
The Department of State and USCIS have made this change to ensure that the available immigrant visa numbers (green cards) are used efficiently. This change has been made pursuant to President Obama’s November 2014 Executive Action on immigration. When President Obama made the announcement in November, he did not provide specifics on exactly how the visa bulletin/immigrant visa system would be “modernized” but rather left those details to the agencies.
This is a welcome change for thousands of foreign nationals who have been waiting years (many of my clients have been waiting 10 years or more for the green card) to be able to apply for the green card, or at least to have the benefits of having applied for the green card (EAD and travel document, primarily). Please keep in mind that the priority date must be current per the “Filing Dates” chart on the visa bulletin to file the I-485 (or proceed with the NVC).
Do you need assistance filing the adjustment of status or applying for the immigrant visa? Please contact our offices at 804-396-3412 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how we can assist. We are based in Richmond, Va but our clients are located throughout the US. We look forward to hearing from you!