By Dimo R. Michailov, Esq.|June 9th, 2016|Articles, EB-2, EB-3, I-485, News, News Alert, Visa Bulletin|

The U.S. State Department has just released the July 2016 Visa Bulletin which is the tenth Visa Bulletin for the FY2016 fiscal year. The headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is the lack of much movement across the employment-based categories after the June 2016 major retrogression.

Summary of the July 2016 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)

EB Category Jul 2016 Jun 2016 Change
Employment Application Final Action Dates (determines when an I-485 or IV can be approved)
EB-1 Current Current No change
EB-2 ROW, MX, PH Current Current No change
EB-2 India Nov 1, 2004 Oct 1, 2004 Forward by 1 month
EB-2 China Jan 1, 2010 Jan 1, 2010 No change
EB-3 ROW Mar 1, 2016 Feb 15, 2016 Forward by 2 weeks
EB-3 India Oct 22, 2004 Sep 22, 2004 Forward by 1 month
EB-3 China Jan 1, 2010 Jan 1, 2010 No change
EB-3 Mexico Mar 1, 2016 Feb 15, 2016 Forward by 2 weeks
EB-3 Philippines Feb 15, 2009 Nov 1, 2008 Forward by 2.5 months
Dates for Filing Employment Visa Applications (determines when an I-485 can be filed)
USCIS will announce within a week or so. Please check this page again for an update.
EB-1 Current Current No change
EB-2 ROW, MX, PH Current Current No change
EB-2 India Jul 1, 2009 Jul 1, 2009 No change
EB-2 China Jun 1, 2013 Jun 1, 2013 No change
EB-3 ROW Current Current No change
EB-3 India Jul 1, 2005 Jul 1, 2005 No change
EB-3 China May 1, 2015 May 1, 2015 No change
EB-3 Mexico Current Current No change
EB-3 Philippines Jan 1, 2010 Jan 1, 2010 No change

Please note that USCIS will determine, about a week after this Visa Bulletin is published, whether or not to accept I-485 filings on the basis of these filing dates. Please see the section below.

Summary of the July 2016 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

FB Category Jul 2016 Jun 2016 Change
Family Application Final Action Dates (determines when an I-485 or IV can be approved)
FB-1 ROW, China, India Mar 22, 2009 Jan 15, 2009 Forward by 2 months
FB-1 Mexico Mar 8, 1995 Feb 22, 1995 Forward by 2 weeks
FB-1 Philippines Feb 1, 2005 Dec 22, 2004 Forward by 5 weeks
FB-2A ROW, China, India, Philippines Nov 15, 2014 Nov 8, 2014 Forward by 1 week
FB-2A Mexico Sep 1, 2014 Sep 1, 2014 No change
Dates for Filing Family Visa Applications (determines when an I-485 can be filed)
USCIS will announce within a week or so. Please check this page again for an update.
FB-1 ROW, China, India Oct 1, 2009 Oct 1, 2009 No change
FB-1 Mexico Apr 1, 1995 Apr 1, 1995 No change
FB-1 Philippines Sep 1, 2005 Sep 1, 2005 No change
FB-2A ROW, China, India, Philippines Oct 15, 2015 Jun 15, 2015 Forward by 4 months
FB-2A Mexico Oct 15, 2015 Jun 15, 2015 Forward by 4 months

Please note that USCIS will determine, about a week after this Visa Bulletin is published, whether or not to accept I-485 filings on the basis of these filing dates. Please see the section below.

USCIS Clarifies Its Position on Accepting I-485 Applications with Current “Filing” Date

The introduction of the “Filing” cutoff date in the October 2015 Visa Bulletin generated, initially, a lot of excitement and hope in that USCIS will be able to accept early I-485 filings. However, the reality has been very disappointing.

Additionally, USCIS has added another wrinkle causing additional delay and confusion. On October 15, 2015, USCIS announced that starting with the November 2015 Visa Bulletin, they (in addition to the Department of State) will be evaluating whether there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas based on the dates published in that month’s Visa Bulletin. This means USCIS will agree to accept the Visa Bulletin “Filing” dates for the purpose of allowing I-485 applications to be filed if (and only if) USCIS determines that there are more available visa numbers than there are known (we assume based on a number of I-485 pending cases) applicants.

According to USCIS, they will be making a determination within a week of the Visa Bulletin issuance and they will be posting their decision it to their website. USCIS will simply state whether they will honor the “Filing” dates or the “Approval” dates for the purpose of accepting I-485 applications. USCIS confirms, however, that their default position is that unless indicated otherwise, the “Approval” dates will control who can file I-485 applications.

As a result, applicants who may appear to be current under the “Filing” cutoff dates in a given Visa Bulletin would still need to wait (it appears for another week) for USCIS to announce separately whether they will honor the “Filing” cutoff date for I-485 filing acceptance. Needless to say, this creates another level of delay and confusion. Our office will do our best to provide updates and explanations on our website and newsletter but we are happy to analyze individual cases as well.

The Month After the Major Retrogression 

This is the first Visa Bulletin after the June 2016 Visa Bulletin major retrogression in EB-2 India and EB2/3 China.   During our recent meeting with Mr. Oppenheim, it was clear that we should not anticipate much  movement in the cutoff dates across the backlogged categories for the remainder of the fiscal year (ending September 30, 2016).

Anticipated Near-term Cutoff Date Movements 

We also would like to caution that EB-1 India and China may have a cutoff date introduced for the remaining two Visa Bulletins for the fiscal year.   Likewise, it is likely that EB-2 ROW will have a cutoff date during the August or September Visa Bulletins.  It is expected that they will be current again after October 1, 2016.

With respect to the other categories, no forward movement is expected for EB-2/EB-3 China.  EB-2 India is likely to remain one week “ahead” of EB-3 India; while EB-3 India is likely to advance to early 2005 over the coming few months.

Current “Date for Filing Applications”?

Our office stands ready to assist in the applicable process to take advantage of the significant restructuring in the way the cutoff dates are determined and published. Notwithstanding the lack of movement in the Filing cutoff dates, there are still many applicants across many of the employment and family categories who can now process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S. or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if our office can help you take advantage of this (very time-sensitive for some) opportunity to file I-485 applications. We are also happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics. We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about the July 2016 Visa Bulletin. Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.