October 2016 Visa Bulletin

Written by Alexander J. Segal on

Alexander J. Segal's picture

Introduction: October 2016 Visa Bulletin

On September 8, 2016, the Department of State (DOS) released the October 2016 Immigrant Visa Bulletin [PDF version] with application final action dates and dates for filing in the family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visa preference categories. The October Visa Bulletin is significant in that it is the first Visa Bulletin of the new fiscal year (FY-2017), which comes with a new set of immigrant visa numbers. Subsequent to the release of the Visa Bulletin, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that adjustment of status applicants in both the family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories would be able to use the dates for filing in October of 2016 [link].

In this article, we will review the October filing dates for the family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories along with information from the Visa Bulletin and the USCIS about how the dates may progress going forward. Before reading, please see our full article about using the DOS Visa Bulletin [see article]. To learn more about the distinction between final action dates and filing dates, please see what we wrote about it when the DOS began making the filing date charts [see article].

To compare to the previous edition of the DOS Visa Bulletin from September 2016, please see our full article [see article].

Dates for Filing Family-Sponsored Adjustment of Status Applications

In order to file for adjustment of status on the basis of an approved family-sponsored immigrant visa petition, a beneficiary of such a petition must locate his or her preference category on the filing chart, his or her country, and then compare the cutoff date with his or her filing date. Provided that his or her filing date is before the cutoff date, he or she may apply for adjustment of status in October of 2016. The following is the chart, as reproduced from the Visa Bulletin by the USCIS:

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

Final Action Dates

The following chart is for final action dates for family-sponsored beneficiaries. This chart reflects when a final decision can be made on an application. As we saw in FY-2016, it is likely that USCIS will at some point in this FY-2017 begin requiring that adjustment of status applicants use the final action date charts instead.

Family-
Sponsored
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 22SEP09 22SEP09 22SEP09 01APR95 01AUG05
F2A 22DEC14 22DEC14 22DEC14 01DEC14 22DEC14
F2B 15MAR10 15MAR10 15MAR10 01OCT95 01JAN06
F3 22DEC04 22DEC04 22DEC04 22NOV94 08JUL94
F4 01NOV03 01MAY03 01DEC02 01MAY97 15APR93

Projections

The DOS Visa Bulletin projects that, through January, we can expect to see the following forward movement in the final action dates for the family-sponsored preference categories:

  • F1: Three to five Weeks;
  • F2A: Up to one month;
  • F2B: Up to one month;
  • F3: Two to four weeks; and
  • F4: Three to five weeks.

However, it is important to note that this movement is not guaranteed, but only represents the DOS's current projections based on “current applicant demand patterns.” The actual Visa Bulletins may reflect movement that is different from the DOS's current projections.

Dates for Employment-Based Adjustment of Status Applications

In order to file for adjustment of status on the basis of an approved employment-based immigrant visa petition, a beneficiary of such a petition must locate his or her preference category on the filing dates chart and his or her country, and then must compare the cutoff date with his or her priority date. For employment-based applicants, it is important to note that the priority date is generally the date a labor certification application was accepted by the DOL for petitions for which labor certification was required. An employment-based applicant may file for adjustment of status in October if his or her priority date is before the filing date on the October 2016 filing dates chart. The following are the dates for filing for employment-based applications for October of 2016:

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 Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable
5th
Non-Regional
Center
(C5 and T5)
C 15JUN14 C C C
5th
Regional
Center
(I5 and R5)
Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable Unavailable

First, it is important to note that a priority date of “C” means “current.” That means that any qualified applicant with an approved immigrant visa petition in a preference category and chargeability area with a priority date of “current” may file for adjustment of status in October.

The priority date of “Unavailable” applies to the Certain Religious Workers and EB5 Regional Center Program categories. This is because both programs must be reauthorized by Congress on September 30, or they will expire. The DOS Visa Bulletin explains that the priority dates for certain religions workers will be “current” for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras if the program is reauthorized. The final action date for the latter three would be June 15, 2015 (note: the DOS does not say what the filing date would be). If the EB5 Regional Center Program is reauthorized, the final action dates for all chargeability areas will be current except for China-mainland born, in which case the final action date would be February 22, 2014 (note: the DOS does not say what the filing date would be). We will update the charts and this section if the programs are reauthorized [see article].

Final Action Dates

The following chart is for final action dates for employment-based beneficiaries. This chart reflects when a final decision can be made on an application. As we saw in FY-2016, it is likely that USCIS will at some point in this FY-2017 begin requiring that adjustment of status applicants use the final action date charts instead.

Employ-
ment
based
All Charge-
ability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C C
2nd C 15FEB12 C 15JAN07 C C
3rd 01JUN16 22JAN13 01JUN16 01MAR05 01JUN16 01DEC10
Other Workers 01JUN16 01JAN05 01JUN16 01MAR05 01JUN16 01DEC10
4th C C 15JUN15 C C C
Certain Religious Workers U U U U U U
5th
Non-Regional
Center
(C5 and T5)
C 22FEB14 C C C C
5th
Regional
Center
(I5 and R5)
U U U U U U

Projections

The DOS Visa Bulletin projects that, through January, we can expect to see the following movement in the final action dates for the family-sponsored preference categories:

  • EB1: Current;
  • EB2 (Worldwide): Current;
  • EB2 (China): Up to three months;
  • EB2 (India): Up to four months;
  • EB3 (Worldwide): The DOS explains that the rapid movement of this final action dates over the past year should result in a “significant amount of demand for [visa] numbers” that will eventually require the DOS to limit movement of the final action date;
  • EB3 (China): Up to three months;
  • EB3 (India): Up to one week;
  • EB3 (Mexico): Will remain at the EB3 (Worldwide) date;
  • EB3 (Philippines): Up to three weeks;
  • EB4: Current for most countries;
  • EB4 (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras): Up to two months;
  • EB5: Will remain current for most countries; and
  • EB5 (China): Slow forward movement.

As we explained with regard to projections for family-sponsored preference categories, these DOS projections are based only on current information. It is entirely possible that subsequent Visa Bulletins may reflect movement in the final action dates that is not in line with DOS's current projections.

Conclusion: October 2016 Visa Bulletin

Persons with approved employment-based or family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions should monitor the Visa Bulletin and consult with an experienced immigration attorney whether they will seek an immigrant visa through consular processing or through adjustment of status. For persons seeking adjustment of status, staying abreast of the developments in the Visa Bulletin will help ensure that they are prepared to file for adjustment of status at the first opportunity. An experienced immigration attorney will be able to guide an applicant through the adjustment of status process.