In concert with USCIS, the Department of State will issue two charts related to priority dates – one that will allow people to file for adjustment of status and one that shows when their permanent residence case is eligible to be completed.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that there will be a new system utilized for determining when eligible individuals will be able to file for adjustment of status (the last step in the permanent residence process). The new process was announced with the issuance of the October 2015 Visa Bulletin on September 9, 2015. The new process will allow more individuals (and their family members) to file their adjustment of status applications earlier than under the previous system, which will provide benefits to the individuals, their family members, and potentially their employers. This change in the current process was an element of President Obama’s executive actions that were announced in November 2014.
Under the old system, the Department of State issued a visa bulletin each month with priority dates listed for certain countries and immigration preference categories. The priority date listed showed which individuals were eligible to file their adjustment of status applications and take the last step in the permanent residence process. If the priority dates were not current, the individual was not eligible to file anything. Under the old system, individuals and their families often had to wait years to file that last step.
Under the new system, the Department of State will issue two charts with each monthly Visa Bulletin. The first chart will be similar to the old chart, in that it will list priority dates that will show when final action (i.e., approval) can be taken on pending permanent residence cases. The second chart will list another grouping of priority dates, and these dates will be used to determine when eligible individuals and their family members may, in effect, pre-file their adjustment of status applications even if they are not yet eligible to receive an approval. The second chart will allow for individuals and their families to file for the last step in the permanent residence process much earlier than under the old system and should allow USCIS to better gauge demand, resulting in smoother priority date movement.
Applications under the new system can’t be filed, and won’t be accepted, prior to October 1, 2015. If you have any questions about this important change in immigration law and how it may affect your business or employees, please contact Gene Schaeffer or Monica Santa Maria.
Links to the October 2015 Visa Bulletin and to the USCIS announcement of the changes are listed below: