On Sep 25 2015

Department of State Changes Visa Bulletin, Takes Away Filing Opportunity for Thousands

On the afternoon of September 24, the Department of State issued an update to the previously released October Visa Bulletin. The update radically changed the benefit offered by a recently revised procedure for determining immigrant visa availability and filing adjustment of status applications. The revised process allows foreign nationals who have an immigrant visa based on family or employment to file an adjustment of status application once their priority date is listed on a separate chart on the monthly Visa Bulletin, entitled “Dates for Filing Applications.” In the prior version of the October Visa Bulletin, these dates were significantly earlier than the priority dates available for final adjudications.

With yesterday’s change for October, the Department of State has moved the priority dates backwards substantially, meaning thousands of applicants who had already gathered documents, prepared applications, paid for medical examinations, and incurred other costs have done so in vain.  Unless another revision of the Visa Bulletin is made, applicants hoping to use the new filing procedure will have to wait many months for their priority date to be current enough for them to file.

The following chart lists how far backwards the dates in the new October Visa Bulletin were moved:

  • EB2 China: Moved from 5/1/2014 to 1/1/2013 (1 year 5 months)
  • EB2 India: Moved from 7/1/2011 to 7/1/2009 (2 years)
  • EB3 Philippines: Moved from 1/1/2015 to 1/1/2010 (5 years)
  • FB1 Mexico: Moved from 7/1/1995 to 4/1/1995 (3 months)
  • FB3 Mexico: Moved from 10/1/1996 to 5/1/1995 (1 year 5 months)

The Visa Bulletin indicates when immigrant visas are available based on priority date.  The priority date is the date on which the applicant’s relative or employer filed the immigrant visa petition on the applicant’s behalf.  In case of employer sponsorship through labor certification, the priority date is the date the labor certification was filed with the Department of Labor.  Certain immigrants may also “recapture” earlier priority dates established by other immigrant visa petitions on their behalf.

We know clients are angry, disappointed and have had hopes of benefits for themselves and their families crushed by this announcement.  We have just learned of this development, and are exploring options for advocacy with the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security to advance the priority dates available for filing by a substantial amount again.  We will send new Client Alerts as further information becomes available.