Changes Allow Earlier Green Card Filings
Starting this month, the State Department (in concert with the USCIS) is issuing two charts related to priority dates––one that allows people to file for adjustment of status and one that shows when their permanent residence case is eligible for completion (green card issuance).
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced a new system for determining when eligible individuals will be able to file for adjustment of status (the last step in the permanent residence process). The new process was announced with the issuance of the October 2015 Visa Bulletin on September 9, 2015. The new process will allow more individuals (and their family members) to file their adjustment of status applications earlier than under the previous system, benefiting individuals, their family members, and potentially their employers. This change in the current process was one of the items in President Obama’s executive actions that were announced in November 2014.
Under the old system, the State Department issued a monthly visa bulletin with priority dates listed for certain countries and immigration preference categories. The priority date listed showed which individuals were eligible to file their adjustment of status applications and take the last step in the permanent residence process. If the priority dates were not current, the individual was not eligible to file anything. Under the old system, individuals and their families often had to wait years to file that last step.
Now, the State Department will issue two charts with each monthly Visa Bulletin. The first chart will be similar to the old chart, in that it will list priority dates that will show when final action (i.e., approval) can be taken on pending permanent residence cases. The second chart will list another grouping of priority dates, and these dates will be used to determine when eligible individuals and their family members may pre-file their adjustment of status applications even if they are not yet eligible to receive an approval. The second chart will allow for individuals and their families to file for the last step in the permanent residence process much earlier than under the old system and should allow USCIS to better understand demand, resulting in more realistic priority date movement. This will also allow applicants to receive work permits, travel authorization, and to change their employment based sponsor after 180 days upon filing.
In the October bulletin, the "Filing Date" for most of the family-based categories is less than one year and up to around two years earlier than the "Final Action Date.” The biggest dramatic change is in the Indian EB2 category (Advance Degree Professionals), which has a Filing Date of July 2011 and the Final Action Date of May 2005.
An example of this new procedure:
An Indian national has filed for his Labor Certification as an EB2 case, since he has a Master’s Degree. His priority date (date of filing) was June 2008. He has waited for over eight years, but has not been able to file for his Adjustment of Status (green card), as the priority date is still not current. Under this October Visa Bulletin, since his case was filed before July 2011, he can file his Adjustment of Status application (along with his family) after October 1, 2015. He will not get his actual green card until the Final Action Date passes his priority date of June 2008, but since he can file his adjustment, he will be able to get work authorization and travel permit. In addition, six months after filing for this “pre-filing adjustment” case, he will have the ability to change his sponsor, if he needs to, while retaining his priority date and I-140 filing.
APPLICATION FINAL ACTION DATES—OCTOBER 2015
|1st||15 Jan 08||5 Jan 08|
|2A||15 Apr 14||15 Apr 14|
|2B||15 Jan 09||15 Jan 09|
|3rd||22 May 04||22 May 04|
|4th||08 Feb 03||08 Feb 03|
|2nd||01 May 05||Current|
|3rd||08 Mar 04||15 Aug 15|
|Other||08 Mar 04
||15 Aug 15|
DATES FOR FILING VISA APPLICATIONS—OCTOBER 2015
|1st||01 May 09||01 May 09|
|2A||01 Mar 15||01 Mar 15|
|2B||01 Jul 10||01 Jul 10|
|3rd||01 Apr 05||01 Apr 05|
|4th||01 Feb 04||01 Feb 04|
|2nd||01 Jul 11||Current|
|3rd||01 Jul 05||01 Sep 15|
|Other||01 Jul 05||01 Sep 15|
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