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Revised Procedures Announced by USCIS Regarding Immigrant Visa Availability

statue-of-liberty-267949_640In order to align more with the procedures the Department of State (DOS) uses for foreign nationals who wish to become US permanent residents at embassies or consulates overseas, USCIS has revised its own procedures for determining the eligibility of those applicants who wish to file for adjustment of status via employment- or family-sponsorship visas.

It’s said that these new procedures will help to enhance the DOS’s ability when it comes to more accurately predicting the overall demand of immigrant visas every year, and will also help to better determine the cut-off dates for visa issuance which are published in the Visa Bulletin. This is supposed to help ensure that the Visa Bulletin final action dates will fluctuate less month-to-month, and that the maximum number of visas intended by Congress are being issued every year.

The Visa Bulletin is a bulletin provided by USCIS for those wishing to file for adjustment of status, and it is intended to let applicants who have had petitions filed on their behalf by family or employers find out whether or not there is a visa available in their category (if applicable) so they can file their I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) forms.

The revisions to the Visa Bulletin are also implementing President Obama’s joint executive actions with Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson from November 2014, which are outlined in the White House report “Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century”.

So what is actually changing in these procedures? The Visa Bulletin currently has two important indicators for applicants: the priority date, which is usually the date that an employer or family member filed the petition for the intended visa, and the availability of the visas being applied for, so eligible applicants know when they can file for adjustment of status. With the new revisions, two charts per visa category will be added to the Bulletin; one chart will contain “final action dates”, which is the date when visas may finally be issued, and the other will contain the earliest dates applicants can apply.

The DOS will then use this collective information in conjunction with the drop-off/abandonment rate and those with pending status to determine if there are any additional visas available for the remainder of the fiscal year.

If you would like more information about the Visa Bulletin, the process behind filing for adjustment of status, or just if you would like to know if you are eligible for an immigrant visa, please get in touch with Daniela Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm. You can send your inquiries via the website or you can call 215-512-5225.