On March 9, 2017, the Department of State (DOS) issued the Visa Bulletin for April 2017 [PDF version]. The April 2017 Visa Bulletin contains application final action dates and dates for filing visas in both the family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visa preference categories. The dates will be effective throughout April of 2017.
On March 16, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued information on when immigrant visa applicants seeking adjustment of status in the family-sponsored or employment-based preference categories may file for adjustment of status. The USCIS determined that family-sponsored adjustment of status applicants must use the dates for filing in April of 2017, whereas employment-based applicants must use the application final action dates [link].
In this article, we will review the relevant charts from the April 2017 Visa Bulletin for family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visa applicants, including important information relevant to those seeking adjustment of status. If you have not done so already, please review our comprehensive article on using the Immigrant Visa Bulletin [see article]. Additionally, please see our blog post on the differences between dates for filing and application final action dates [see article].
Finally, please see our post on the March 2017 Visa Bulletin to observe the movement in the dates and to learn more about the DOS's projections for the upcoming months [see article].
The beneficiary of an approved immigrant visa petition in one of the family-sponsored preference categories may file for adjustment of status in March of 2017 if his or her priority date is before the appropriate date for filing on the following chart. In order to determine the applicable filing date, the individual must match his or her preference category with his or her country of nationality.
|Family — Sponsored||All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA — mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPPINES|
The following chart contains the application final action dates for family-sponsored immigrant visa applicants in April 2017. This chart reflects the date on which final action can be taken on a family-sponsored immigrant visa application. However, please note that family-sponsored applicants for adjustment of status must use the more favorable dates for filing in April 2017.
|Family — Sponsored||All Charge -
ability Areas Except Those Listed
|CHINA — mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPPINES|
The USCIS determined that those seeking adjustment of status in the employment-based categories must use the application final action dates for April 2017. The following chart contains the application final action dates. Please note that a date marked as “C” means that the filing date for that chargeability area and preference category is “current.” An adjustment of status applicant with a current application final action date in April 2017 will be able to file for adjustment of status regardless of his or her priority date.
|Employment — Based||All Charge — ability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA — mainland born||EL SALVADOR GUATEMALA HONDURAS||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPPINES|
|Certain Religious Workers||C||C||15JUL15||C||15JUL15||C|
|5th Non-Regional Center (C5 and T5)||C||22MAY14||C||C||C||C|
|5th Regional Center (I5 and R5)||C||22MAY14||C||C||C||C|
News and Notes from the April 2017 Visa Bulletin
Each month, the DOS posts projections for subsequent Immigrant Visa Bulletins. In the following subsections, we will summarize the news included with the April 2017 Visa Bulletin.
Fast Movement in Family-Sponsored Fourth Preference Final Action Dates
First, the DOS explains that, despite the forward movement of application final action dates in the Family-Sponsored Fourth Preference category, “the level of demand and resulting number use in several family preference cases has been below expectations.” The lack of demand resulted in the Worldwide Family Fourth Preference date advancing far more than was projected in the March 2017 Visa Bulletin in April 2017. The DOS explains that it advanced “at a pace that covers the period of several months projected in the March 2017 Visa Bulletin…” The DOS explains that “[t]here are signs that demand in the other categories will increase in the coming months, resulting in the higher monthly allocation totals required to allow number use to reach those desired levels.” For this reason, the DOS states that the Fourth Preference date will be held for a period of time “while the monthly allocation levels in those other preferences increase…”
Scheduled Expiration of Two Employment Visa Categories
On December 10, 2017, the Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the Government through April [see article]. This also extended the non-minister special immigrant religious worker program (Employment-Based Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR)) and the Employment-Based Fifth Preference immigrant investor categories (I5 and R5). As it stands now, no SR visas will be issued after midnight on April 27, 2017. No I5 or R5 visas will be issued after midnight on April 28, 2017. After such dates, the categories will be designated as “U” for “unavailable.”
However, it is important to note that Congress will likely pass, and the President will likely sign, legislation that both funds the government and extends these programs. We will update the site with more information as it is known. Those seeking immigrant visas in those categories should consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
Special Immigrant Visa Availability
The DOS explains that it expects to exhaust all of the Special Immigrant Visas allocated by Congress under the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, as amended, “not later than June 1, 2017.” For this reason, the application final action date for the SQ category for certain Afghan nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan will become unavailable effective June 2017. The DOS is not scheduling any further interviews under this category after March 1, 2017, and will not issue any new visas after May 30, 2017.
The DOS explains that the SQ category for certain Iraqi nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq is unaffected and remains current. However, the application deadline for this category was September 30, 2014.
Finally, the DOS explains that the annual limit of 50 Special Immigrant Visas in the SI category (certain Iraqi and Afghani translators/interpreters working on behalf of the U.S. government) was already reached in December of 2016. For this reason, the application final action date remains unavailable. Further visa issuances in this category will not be possible until October 2017.
Those seeking immigrant visas should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance throughout the often complicated process. It is especially important for those seeking adjustment of status on the basis of an approved family-sponsored immigrant visa petition to be cognizant of when they can formally apply for adjustment of status.