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Updates to USCIS Visa Bulletin

visa12The Department of State (DOS) on September 25 published an updated Visa Bulletin for the upcoming month of October, which replaces a previous bulletin for the month that was originally published on September 9. This chart is the one immigrant applicants should use when filing for an adjustment of status, and has also been updated on USCIS’s website for convenience when doing so.

This is also the bulletin that the Department of Homeland Security will use when determining whether someone is eligible to file their application.

The changes to the bulletin have come due to consultation with DHS in regard to finding a timeframe that better reflects whether or not immediate action in the application process is required. Due to these consultations, several Dates for Filing Applications for some visa categories in the family- and employment-based sponsorship preferences have been updated. These sections are on pages 4 and 6 of the bulletin, and have been identified in bold type and highlighted.

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.

So what’s changing with these procedures is that the Visa Bulletin currently has two main indicators for applicants. The first is the priority date, which is usually the date that an employer or family member filed the petition for the intended visa. If a labor certification is required to be filed with the petition, then the priority date is when the labor certification application was accepted for processing by Department of Labor. The second indicator is 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.

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.

If you would like more information on the Visa Bulletin or if you’d like to find out if it affects you, please contact Lyttle Law Firm either via the website or by calling 215-512-5225.