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September 2016 Visa Bulletin – Last Bulletin for the Fiscal Year; EB India Advances Slightly

Home/Articles, EB-2, EB-3, News, News Alert, Visa Bulletin/September 2016 Visa Bulletin – Last Bulletin for the Fiscal Year; EB India Advances Slightly

The U.S. State Department has just released the September 2016 Visa Bulletin which is the last Visa Bulletin for the FY2016 fiscal year. The headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is fact that this is the last bulletin for the fiscal year.   There is lack of much movement across most employment based categories with the exception of EB-2 and EB-3 India which advance by a few months.

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

EB Category Sep 2016 Aug 2016 Change
Employment Application Final Action Dates (determines when an I-485 or IV can be approved)
EB-1 ROW, MX, PH Current Current No change
EB-1 India, China Jan 1, 2010 Jan 1, 2010 No change
EB-2 ROW, MX, PH Feb 1, 2014 Feb 1, 2014 No change
EB-2 India Feb 22, 2005 Nov 15, 2004 Forward by 3 months
EB-2 China Jan 1, 2010 Jan 1, 2010 No change
EB-3 ROW May 1, 2016 Mar 15, 2016 Forward by 6 weeks
EB-3 India Feb 15, 2005 Nov 8, 2004 Forward by 3 months
EB-3 China Jan 1, 2010 Jan 1, 2010 No change
EB-3 Mexico May 1, 2016 Mar 15, 2016 Forward by 6 weeks
EB-3 Philippines Jul 1, 2010 May 15, 2009 Forward by 13 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, 2013 Jan 1, 2013 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 September 2016 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

FB Category Sep 2016 Aug 2016 Change
Family Application Final Action Dates (determines when an I-485 or IV can be approved)
FB-1 ROW, China, India Sep 15, 2009 May 22, 2009 Forward by 4 months
FB-1 Mexico Mar 22, 1995 Mar 8, 1995 Forward by 2 weeks
FB-1 Philippines Jul 1, 2005 Mar 22, 2005 Forward by 3 months
FB-2A ROW, China, India, Philippines Nov 15, 2014 Nov 15, 2014 No change
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 Jan 1, 2010 Jan 1, 2010 No change
FB-1 Mexico Apr 1, 1995 Apr 1, 1995 No change
FB-1 Philippines Dec 22, 2005 Dec 22, 2005 No change
FB-2A ROW, China, India, Philippines Nov 22, 2015 Nov 22, 2015 No change
FB-2A Mexico Nov 22, 2015 Nov 22, 2015 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.

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.

EB-1 India/China and EB-2 ROW/Mexico/Philippines Cutoff Date

As we cautioned in our July 2016 Visa Bulletin report and as reflected in the August 2016 Visa Bulletin, the Department of State introduced a cutoff date for the EB-1 India and China and the EB-2 ROW, Mexico and Philippines categories (which have almost always been current).

This means that applicants who are affected by this cutoff date introduction will not be able to complete their green card process either at the US Consulate or by filing or getting an approval of I-485 adjustment of status application until their priority date becomes current again.   It is expected that these categories will be current again after October 1, 2016.

October 2016 Visa Bulletin Expected to “Reset” Cutoff Dates

We expect that the October 2016 Visa Bulletin (to be released in early September) to “reset” the cutoff dates for many categories which were either retrogressed or had a cutoff date introduced over the last two months.   As the new fiscal year begins on October 1, the government has the entire new fiscal year’s supply of immigrant visas and we expect that the cutoff dates will advance notably for many categories 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 positive 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 September 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.

By | 2017-05-20T21:47:05+00:00 August 8th, 2016|Articles, EB-2, EB-3, News, News Alert, Visa Bulletin|

About the Author:

Dimo R. Michailov, Esq.
As one of the senior attorneys and the founding member of the Capitol Immigration Law Group, Mr. Michailov is at the forefront of the immigration law community. He represents individuals from more than 50 countries in their quest for U.S. immigration options and solutions. He also represents companies and organizations ranging from small entrepreneurs to multinational corporations in meeting their goals to recruit, hire and retain talented foreign nationals while maintaining full compliance with the relevant immigration rules and procedures.