In an August 3, 2016 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that in situations where beneficiaries of I-140 petition have ported their I-485 adjustment of status application to a new employer pursuant to the AC21 portability provisions, USCIS is required to provide a notice of its intent to revoke the earlier I-140 petition to the new AC21 employer but not to the beneficiary.
Many of our clients and readers are already aware of the move by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) to issue what are hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of very similar, if not identical, requests for evidence (“RFE”) on pending employment-based primary Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, cases (mostly for EB-2 India applicants). Our office has been receiving such RFEs and we have been hearing from readers and clients who have also been affected by this large-scale RFE event. We have seen similar RFE flood waves in the past and many EB-2 India applicants may have seen two or even three such RFEs. Like previous RFE waves in the past, USCIS is generally seeking updated medicals, in addition to employment verification documents from the sponsoring employer. (more…)
February 2016 Visa Bulletin – Filing Cutoff Dates Remain Largely Unchanged; Very Gradual Movement in the Approval Dates; EB-2 India Advances by Seven Months
The U.S. State Department has just released the February 2016 Visa Bulletin which is the fifth Visa Bulletin for the FY2016 fiscal year. The major headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is the lack of any substantive movement in the Filing cutoff dates section of the Visa Bulletin, possibly caused by the October 2015 Visa Bulletin revisions and litigation. The good news is that the Final Action cutoff dates advance gradually for most categories, including EB-2 India which sees another notable forward movement. (more…)
December 2015 Visa Bulletin – Filing Cutoff Dates Remain Unchanged; Very Gradual Movement in the Approval Dates
The U.S. State Department has just released the December 2015 Visa Bulletin which is the third Visa Bulletin for the new FY2016 fiscal year. The major headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is the lack of any movement whatsoever in the Filing cutoff dates section of the Visa Bulletin, possibly caused by the October 2015 Visa Bulletin revisions and litigation. The good news is that the Final Action cutoff dates advance gradually for most categories. (more…)
In an important (and surely welcome by many) announcement, the National Visa Center (NVC) has announced that as of November 12, 2014, they would no longer start requiring and collecting original civil documents in support of immigrant visa (green card) cases. Most applicants will simply need to submit photocopies of the applicable required civil documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, police certificate, etc.) to NVC and bring the originals to the Consulate for the immigrant visa interview.
New Instructions to NVC Applicants Starting November 12, 2014
After NVC applicants (and their petitioners, as applicable) collect the Affidavit of Support form(s), financial evidence, and supporting civil documents, they are instructed to submit all of the documents to NVC. As of November 12, 2014, applicants at non-electronic processing posts will be instructed to submit photocopies of their civil documents by mail. NVC will review the copies and, when the case is documentarily complete, will place the copies into the file, which will be sent to the Consular post, increasing the number of cases that are documentarily qualified. In other words, not requiring original civil documents is likely to allow more people to complete their NVC process faster.
When the appointment is scheduled, NVC will instruct applicants to bring their original documents to the interview for evaluation and final case processing. Original Affidavit of Support forms will still be submitted to NVC for initial evaluation. Applicants at designated electronic processing posts (and only for those posts) will continue to submit their documents via email.
We welcome this announcement from NVC because it is likely to significantly shorten the time it takes to complete an NVC case. According to NVC, they expect this slight change in the process to reduce customer wait times and improve the customer experience overall.
We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments, or if we can be of any assistance with this or related immigration-related issues.
In a memorandum dated August 9, 2013, USCIS has released guidance and clarifications pertaining to the options and timelines for Diversity Visa (DV) selectees who choose to process their green card from within the U.S. by filing I-485, Application to Adjust Status. The memo seeks to provide clarification to those DV selectees who choose to file I-485 from within the US and, specifically, to indicate that I-485 can be filed when the advance notification number becomes current. This is done to ensure that I-485 applications can be filed earlier in anticipation of a visa number being current by the time the I-485 is ready for adjudication and approval.
Background of the Ways Diversity Visa Selectees Can Obtain Their Green Cards
Many of our readers who are familiar with the DV lottery are aware that there are two ways to process one’s green card — by processing through the National Visa Center (NVC)/U.S. Consulate or by filing with USCIS a Form I-485 from within the U.S. (for those who are physically in the U.S.). The USCIS memo focuses only on those who elect to file I-485. By law, DV visas expire at the end of a given fiscal year; accordingly, a DV adjustment applicant’s Form I-485 (including principals and any of their derivatives) must be adjudicated and approved on or before September 30 of the relevant fiscal year. Recognizing that it often takes several months to process and approve an I-485 application, USCIS and the Department of State (DOS have created a system where DOS announced, in the monthly Visa Bulletin, “advance notification” numbers in addition to the “normal” visa availability numbers in order to allow I-485 DV selectees to file their I-485s a little bit earlier.
Rationale of the Advance Notification Numbers
To ensure timely notification and encourage timely filing of applications for adjustment of status, approximately 50 to 60 days in advance of actual DV visa availability, DOS, in consultation with USCIS, publishes in its monthly Visa Bulletin a separate “advance notification” of DV rank cut-off numbers. Such advance notification enables persons to file their Form I-485 applications prior to the time a DV visa becomes “immediately available.” The listing of advance notification of DV availability is meant to enable a person to file his or her adjustment application, even though a visa is not yet available.
This advance notification provides an opportunity for DV adjustment of status applicants to file their Form I-485 applications earlier than would otherwise be possible, thereby enabling USCIS to begin review of such applications. This in turn affords USCIS additional time to determine an applicant’s eligibility for adjustment of status before the end of the fiscal year.
Mechanics of the Advance Notification Numbers Listed in each Visa Bulletin
The Department of State publishes its monthly Visa Bulletin on or about the ninth day of each month. Each Visa Bulletin indicates immigrant visa availability for the upcoming month (e.g., November immigrant visa cut-off numbers are published on October 9). For DV purposes, the Visa Bulletin currently includes two monthly allocation charts which provide: (1) DV visa availability for the current Visa Bulletin month; and, (2) advance notification of DV visa availability for the following month.
Availability Section. When a DV rank cut-off number (from the DV notification letter) is listed in the availability section of the Visa Bulletin, visas will be available in that month for applicants with DV numbers ranked (in randomly selected order by region) below the specified cut-off number. The listing of the DV rank cut-off number indicates the DV rank number of the first person who is not eligible to adjust his or her status in a particular month.
Advance Notification Section. The rank cut-off number listed in the advance notification section indicates the DV rank cut-off numbers for the specific month covered by the advance notification. Anyone with a rank number below the listed rank cut-off number in the Visa Bulletin may file an adjustment of status application.
USCIS DV I-485 Case Procedures. As of January 11, 2012, the USCIS Case Resolution Unit at the Lockbox reviews every DV-related Form I-485 for visa availability at the time of filing by verifying that the applicant’s rank number is lower than the advance notification cut-off number posted in the most recently published DOS monthly Visa Bulletin. The officer will confirm at time of final adjudication of the Form I-485 adjustment application (i.e., when all required processing has been completed) that the DV rank cut-off number is lower than the applicable rank cut-off number posted in the DOS’s current Visa Bulletin. As a last step, the officer must also confirm that a DV visa number is actually available, before he or she may approve the adjustment application by submitting an electronic request for the DV visa – this is when the I-485 gets approved and the green card ordered for physical production.
It is important to note that these guidelines based on “advance notification” do not apply to I-485 DV applications filed for the current fiscal year in September because such applications must be adjudicated by end of September (the end of the fiscal year). On the other hand, these guidelines do apply to adjustment applications that are filed on the basis of advance notification in the prior year’s September Visa Bulletin for the next fiscal year’s DV numbers.
We hope that these clarifications would help DV selectees who are eligible to apply for I-485 processing of their green card to better understand the I-485 DV processing option and to take advantage of the opportunity to file their I-485 little bit earlier to ensure that their I-485 application can be approved faster and before the end of the applicable fiscal year on September 30th. Our office is ready and available to assist in this kind of situations. 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.
USCIS has released a schedule of the inventory of pending employment-based Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status. The statistics are very recent – as of January 5, 2011 – and are very helpful to understanding the relative queue positions for employment-based adjustment of status applicants.
How Can I Determine My Place in the AOS Queue?
An AOS application’s preference category, priority date, and country of origin determine its place in line for a visa. The earlier your priority date is, the closer you are to the front of the line. The report displays the total number of pending adjustment of status applications, per preference classification. The report shows how many pending adjustment of status (green card) applications in each preference classification have priority dates in a given month and year. You can use this chart to determine how many applicants in your preference classification have priority dates in the same month and year as your own. Also, you can determine how many applicants in your preference classification are ahead of you in line for a visa number by adding together the number of cases with an earlier priority date than your own.
Ensure That You Use The Report Relevant to Your AOS
All applicants for an employment-based green card may use the pending Form I-485 report to determine their place in line for a visa. Because certain countries experience higher demand than others, applicants in these “oversubscribed” countries may move forward in line more slowly than applicants in countries experiencing less demand. In other words, in order to obtain a visa, applicants in oversubscribed countries may need to have earlier priority dates than applicants in countries experiencing less demand. Applicants in oversubscribed countries may therefore want to also refer to the report for their specific country of chargeability to determine where they stand in line with other applicants from that country.
We are pleased with USCIS’ efforts to provide more transparency by compiling and releasing the I-485 inventory data. While we realize that for some of our clients and readers the inventory information will show that there is still a significant wait, the fact that AOS applicants can obtain some empirical estimate of their relative place in the processing queue is important.