December 2016 Visa Bulletin

Written by Alexander J. Segal on

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Introduction: December 2016 Visa Bulletin

On November 8, 2016, the Department of State (DOS) released its December 2016 Visa Bulletin. The December 2016 Visa Bulletin contains application final action dates and dates for filing for immigrant visas in both the family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visa preference categories.

Two days later, on November 10, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determined that individuals seeking adjustment of status with the USCIS in the family-sponsored preference categories and in the employment-based first through fourth preference categories may file for adjustment of status based upon the dates for filing instead of the application final action dates. However, those in the employment-based fifth (EB5) preference category must use the application final action dates (this only makes a difference for applicants from mainland China).

In this article, we will provide the relevant charts from both the DOS Visa Bulletin and the USCIS for those seeking immigrant visas in the preference categories. Please see our comprehensive article to learn about how to use the Immigrant Visa Bulletin as an individual seeking adjustment of status on the basis of an approved immigrant visa petition in one of the employment-based or family-sponsored preference categories [see article]. Please see our blog post to learn more about the distinction between the dates for filing and the application final action dates [see blog].

Please see our articles on the November 2016 Visa Bulletin [see article] and the October 2016 Visa Bulletin [see article] to observe the movement in the dates for filing and the application final action dates over the first three months of FY-2017.

This article relies on the following resources:

  • “Visa Bulletin for November 2016,” DOS, (Nov. 8, 2016) [link]
  • “When to File Your Adjustment of Status Application for Family-Sponsored or Employment-Based Preference Visas: December 2016,” USCIS, (Nov. 10, 2016) [link]

Family-Sponsored Cases

Dates for Filing Family-Sponsored Adjustment of Status Applications

An individual with an approved family-sponsored immigrant visa petition in one of the preference categories may file for adjustment of status in December of 2016 if his or her priority date is before the filing date on the following chart. An individual must find the row with his or her preference category and the column with his or her country of nationality in order to locate the correct filing date.

Family-Sponsored All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 01JAN11 01JAN11 01JAN11 01JUN95 01MAY06
F2A 22NOV15 22NOV15 22NOV15 22NOV15 22NOV15
F2B 08FEB11 08FEB11 08FEB11 01JUN96 01FEB07
F3 22AUG05 22AUG05 22AUG05 01MAY95 01JAN95
F4 01JUL04 01JUL04 01MAY04 01DEC97 01APR94

Family-Sponsored Final Action Dates

The following chart represents the final action dates for the family-sponsored preference categories for December 2016. These dates represent the date on which final action may be taken on an immigrant visa application. It is important to remember that family-sponsored immigrant visa beneficiaries seeking adjustment of status may use the dates for filing for December of 2016.

Family-Sponsored All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 01DEC09 01DEC09 01DEC09 15APR95 15SEP05
F2A 22FEB15 22FEB15 22FEB15 15FEB15 22FEB15
F2B 08MAY10 08MAY10 08MAY10 15OCT95 01MAR06
F3 15FEB05 15FEB05 15FEB05 08DEC94 15AUG94
F4 22DEC03 01OCT03 01APR03 15MAY97 22MAY93

Employment-Based Cases

Dates for Employment-Based Immigrant Adjustment of Status Applications

For December of 2016, the USCIS determined that those seeking adjustment of status in the employment-based first through fourth preference categories may use the Visa Bulletin's filing dates while those seeking adjustment of status on the basis of an approved EB5 petition must use the application final action dates. The priority dates for all chargeability areas for EB5 on both the dates for filing and application final action dates charts are current except for China-mainland born. For EB5 adjustment of status applicants from mainland China, the USCIS's decision means that the cutoff date for applying for adjustment of status is March 15, 2014, instead of June 15, 2014.

The employment-based charts work exactly the same as the family-sponsored charts. A date of “C” means that any individual with an approved immigrant visa petition that preference category and chargeability area will be allowed to file for adjustment of status in December.

Employment-Based All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01MAR13 22APR09 C C
3rd C 01MAY14 01JUL05 C 01SEP13
Other Workers C 01AUG09 01JUL05 C 01SEP13
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C C C C
5th Non-Regional Center (C5 and T5) C 22MAR14 C C C
5th Regional Center (I5 and R5) C 22MAR14 C C C

Employment-Based Final Action Dates

The following chart contains the application final action dates for the employment-based preference categories for December of 2016. As we noted in the previous section, individuals with approved immigrant visa petitions in the EB5 categories must use the final action dates. Those seeking adjustment of status in the employment-based first through fourth may use the dates for filing to determine whether they are eligible to apply for adjustment of status in December of 2016.

Employment-based All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born EL SALVADOR GUATEMALA HONDURAS INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C C
2nd C 22SEP12 C 01FEB08 C C
3rd 01JUL16 01JUL13 01JUL16 15MAR05 01JUL16 01JUN11
Other Workers 01JUL16 01NOV05 01JUL16 15MAR05 01JUL16 01JUN11
4th C C 15JUL15 C 15JUL15 C
Certain Religious Workers C C 15JUL15 C 15JUL15 C
5th Non-Regional Center (C5 and T5) C 22MAR14 C C C C
5th Regional Center (I5 and R5) C 22MAR14 C C C C

News and Notes from the Immigrant Visa Bulletin

The new issue of the DOS Visa Bulletin includes news that will affect the progression of application final action dates and dates for filing in the upcoming months.

Oversubscription of the Mexico E4 and Certain Religious Workers Preference Categories

The DOS explains that there is high demand for the E4 and Certain Religious Worker categories from individuals from Mexico. The DOS explains that this is primarily due to Juvenile Court Dependent cases filed with the USCIS for adjustment of status. Accordingly, the DOS was required to impose final action dates in the E4 and Certain Religious Worker categories for those seeking immigrant visas in those categories from Mexico.

Scheduled Expiration of Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers and EB5

On September 29, 2016, President Barack Obama signed a 10-week extension of the certain religious workers and EB5 programs. This extension expires on December 9, 2016. Accordingly, no final action may be taken on cases in either category after December 8, 2016. The application final action dates and dates for filing in these categories will become unavailable for December for all chargeability areas effective December 10, 2016, unless the Congress takes action to extend the programs. Non-minister special immigrant religions workers must be admitted into the United States no later than midnight December 8, 2016, in order to enter the United States in status. EB5 visas may be issued for their full validity period before December 9, 2016.

We will update the immigration blog with information regarding the possible extension of both of these immigrant visa programs. Those seeking immigrant visas in these categories should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance on the evolving situation.

Employment-Based Visa Availability for Subsequent Months

The DOS explains that the level of demand for many of the employment-based preference categories for cases filed with the USCIS for adjustment of status increased significantly last winter. Because the increased levels have been sustained and show no signs of abating, the DOS has made updates to its previous projections regarding visa availability. Please see the relevant section of our October 2016 Visa Bulletin article to read the previous set of projections [see section].

The DOS projects that the dates in the employment-based first preference category will remain current during the coming months. However, the DOS states that it will be necessary to impose a Final Action Date for China-mainland born and India “at some point.”

The DOS projects that the dates for the employment-based second preference category will remain current for the foreseeable future. However, the DOS expects to have to impose a worldwide, Mexico, and Philippines Final Action Date “no later than July.”

The DOS explains that the demand for immigrant visas in the employment-based third preference category “appears to be increasing at the long-anticipated rate.” For this reason, the DOS held the date for December and anticipates that it will do so again in January. The DOS will determine whether the increased level of demand for immigrant visas in the third preference category will be sustained. The DOS projects that for India, the movement of the date will be limited to one week, will then hold for several months, then move one week, and then be likely to hold again.

Conclusion

Individuals with approved preference petitions should monitor the Immigrant Visa Bulletin for an idea of when an immigrant visa may become available. This is especially important for individuals planning to apply for adjustment of status. An individual seeking an immigrant visa should retain an experienced immigration attorney throughout the entire petitioning and application process.