In an unprecedented move that has been widely applauded by foreign nationals and immigration attorneys across the country, last week U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, USCIS would be revising its internal procedures for determining visa availability. These revised procedures will potentially affect hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals who continue to wait for the priority dates to become current. Specifically, the revised procedures will allow many beneficiaries of family-based and employment-based immigration petitions to file their Form I-485 Adjustment of Status applications several months in advance of their priority dates officially becoming current. These procedures will become effective on October 1, 2015.
The purpose of the new process is to assist the Department of State (DOS) in the agency’s predictions for visa availability. By doing so, the DOS will be able to more accurately forecast which priority dates will be current in the coming months.
The Changes in the October 2015 Visa Bulletin
The DOS has already issued the October 2015 Visa Bulletin, which shows the new and revised system of cutoff dates. Both employment-based (EB) and family-based (FB) categories now have two dates that applicants must review. These dates are organized into four different charts. The dates in the first chart are the current priority dates for the FB immigration categories. The dates in the second chart are the priority dates that are now eligible to file the Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status with USCIS. Similarly, the third chart provides the current priority dates for the EB categories, and the fourth chart shows the priority dates that are eligible for filing the Form I-485 applications.
The Benefits of Filing the Form I-485 Application Early
The foreign nationals who are now eligible to file the Form I-485 Applications may enjoy several benefits. For example, they and their qualifying family members are now also eligible to file for separate employment authorization and travel authorization along with their Form I-485 Applications, which means that they will no longer be required to obtain nonimmigrant visas at U.S. embassies if they want to travel in and out of the country.
Additionally, the applicants may also decide to stop extending their underlying nonimmigrant status, since the proper and timely filing of a Form I-485 Application maintains the applicant’s lawful immigration status.
Finally, in the context of EB categories, if a foreign national’s Form I-485 Application remains pending for more than 180 days, the applicant may take advantage of the AC21 porting provisions, which create more flexibility for the applicant’s employment opportunities in the United States.
The green card attorneys at ImmigRantings are thrilled about the USCIS announcement. This move by the agency is a tremendous step in helping foreign nationals complete their immigration processing in a timely manner, and in helping them take advantage of the benefits provided by the adjustment of status process. Continue to check our blog for more information on the latest immigration developments.
Additional Blog Posts:
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012