U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) has just announced that for the month of October 2016 they will honor and accept I-485 Adjustment of Status applications based on the Filing Dates (and not only on the Final Action dates) category from the October 2016 Visa Bulletin. See USCIS’s announcement.
What this means is that for I-485 filing purposes, USCIS will accept applications with slightly earlier cutoff date than noted on the Final Action dates. Also, this announcement is important because this is the first time in over twelve Visa Bulletin editions when USCIS has agreed to accept the Filing Dates category for I-485 filing purposes.
October 2016 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)
|EB Category||Oct 2016 Final Action||Oct 2016 Filing Dates||Difference|
|EB-2 ROW, MX, PH||Current||Current||No difference|
|EB-2 India||Jan 15, 2007||Apr 22, 2009||Forward by 23 months|
|EB-2 China||Feb 15, 2012||Mar 1, 2013||Forward by 12 months|
|EB-3 ROW||Jun 1, 2016||Current||Forward by 3 months|
|EB-3 India||Mar 1, 2005||Jul 1, 2005||Forward by 4 months|
|EB-3 China||Jan 22, 2013||May 1, 2014||Forward by 14 months|
|EB-3 Mexico||Jun 1, 2016||Current||Forward by 3 months|
|EB-3 Philippines||Dec 1, 2010||Sep 1, 2013||Forward by 34 months|
October 2016 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)
|FB Category||Oct 2016 Final Action||Oct 2016 Filing Dates||Difference|
|FB-1 ROW, China, India||Sep 22, 2009||Jan 1, 2011||Forward by 15 months|
|FB-1 Mexico||Apr 1, 1995||Jun 1, 1995||Forward by 2 months|
|FB-1 Philippines||Aug 1, 2005||May 1, 2006||Forward by 3 months|
|FB-2A ROW, China, India, Philippines||Dec 22, 2014||Nov 22, 2015||Forward by 11 months|
|FB-2A Mexico||Dec 1, 2014||Nov 22, 2015||Forward by 11 months|
What Do These Dates Mean?
We provide these tables to illustrate the difference between the dates which will be accepted for October 2016 I-485 filings by USCIS. With USCIS agreeing to accept the “Filing Dates” for I-485 purposes, there will be a significant number of applicants who can file new I-485 applications (or perhaps interfile EB-3 to EB-2 porting I-485 applications) because of a priority date which is earlier than the dated noted in the “Filing Dates” column.
Background on Filing of 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.
This month, for the first time ever, USCIS agreed to honor the Filing Dates category for I-485 filing purposes.
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. There are 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 October 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.