October 2017 Visa Bulletin

Written by Alexander J. Segal on

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Introduction

On September 11, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) released the Visa Bulletin for October 2017 [PDF version]. The October 2017 Visa Bulletin is the first Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. On September 15, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determined that family-sponsored adjustment of status applicants may rely on the dates for filing chart for October 2017, but that employment-based applicants must use the less generous final action date chart [PDF version]. The USCIS's determination that employment-based adjustment of status applicants must use the final action dates is a shift from both October of FY 2015 and October of FY 2016, when employment-based applicants were permitted to use the dates for filing chart.

In this article, we will reproduce the relevant charts from the October 2017 Visa Bulletin along with other notes included by the DOS.

October 2017 Visa Bulletin

Please see our full article on using the visa bulletin for guidance on how it applies both to adjustment of status applicants and to those who are seeking their immigrant visas through consular processing [see article]. Please also see our full article on the differences between the final action dates and the dates for filing [see article].

Finally, please see our list of articles on prior visa bulletins [see article].

Family-Sponsored Cases

The USCIS determined that beneficiaries of approved family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions can use the dates for filing chart for determining eligibility to apply for adjustment of status in October of 2017. The dates for filing are slightly more generous than the final action dates. In October 2017, the beneficiary of an approved family-sponsored petition may apply for adjustment of status if his or her priority date is earlier than the applicable final date for his or her preference category and chargeability area. The priority date is the date on which the immigrant visa petition was properly filed for the majority of family-sponsored cases.

The following is the list of filing dates for family-sponsored preference cases in October 2017, courtesy of USCIS:

Family-Sponsored All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 01JAN12 01JAN12 01JAN12 01NOV96 01OCT07
F2A 01NOV16 01NOV16 01NOV16 01NOV16 01NOV16
F2B 01SEP11 01SEP11 01SEP11 01JAN97 01SEP07
F3 01DEC05 01DEC05 01DEC05 01OCT95 15JUN95
F4 15NOV04 15NOV04 22JUN04 08FEB98 01MAR95

For your reference, we are including the final action dates for family-sponsored cases in October 2017. The final action dates are the dates on which final action may be taken on an application for an immigrant visa. It is important to reiterate that adjustment of status applicants may rely on the filing dates listed above for October 2017.

The following is the list of final action dates for family-sponsored preference cases in October 2017, courtesy of DOS:

Family-Sponsored All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 22DEC10 22DEC10 22DEC10 01MAR96 01JAN07
F2A 22OCT15 22OCT15 22OCT15 15OCT15 22OCT15
F2B 08NOV10 08NOV10 08NOV10 15JUL96 01JAN07
F3 22JUL05 22JUL05 22JUL05 22APR95 22FEB95
F4 08MAY04 08MAY04 01OCT03 01OCT97 01JUN94

Employment-Based Cases

Unlike family-sponsored cases, the USCIS determined that employment-based adjustment of status applicants must rely on the final action dates for October 2017. Accordingly, the beneficiary of an employment-based immigrant visa petition may apply for adjustment of status only if his or her priority date is before the applicable final action cutoff date for his or her applicable preference category and chargeability area. The priority date will generally be the date on which the labor certification application was approved for by the U.S. Department of Labor for petitions for which labor certification was required. In cases in which labor certification was not required, the priority date will generally be when the employment-based petition was properly filed.

The following is the list of filing dates for employment-based preference cases in October 2017, courtesy of USCIS:

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 22MAY13 C 15SEP08 C C
3rd C 01JAN14 C 15OCT06 C 01DEC15
Other Workers C 01JAN06 C 15OCT06 C 01DEC15
4th C C 01NOV15 C 01MAR16 C
Certain Religious Workers C C 01NOV15 C 01MAR16 C
5th Non-Regional Center (C5 and T5) C 22JUN14 C C C C
5th Regional Center (I5 and R5) C 22JUN14 C C C C

Please note that “C” means that the priority date is current. In categories where the priority date is current, any individual with an approved employment-based petition in the preference category and chargeability area may apply for adjustment of status in October 2017.

News on Visa Availability for Upcoming Months

The DOS included news about potential movement of final action dates in upcoming visa bulletins.

First, the DOS offered the following projections for the forward movement of family-sponsored worldwide final action dates:

  • F1: Up to several months
  • F2A: Up to one month
  • F2B: Up to one month
  • F3: Three or four weeks
  • F4: Two or three weeks

Here, the DOS projects potentially significant movement in the F1 worldwide dates, and more limited forward movement in the other family-sponsored preferences.

The DOS then provided the following projections for the forward movement of dates in the following employment-based preferences and chargeability areas:

  • Employment First: Will remain current
  • Employment Second (Worldwide): Will remain current
  • Employment Second (China): Up to four weeks
  • Employment Second (India): Up to one month
  • Employment Third (Worldwide): Will remain current
  • Employment Third (China): Up to four months
  • Employment Third (India): Limited forward movement
  • Employment Third (Mexico): Will remain current
  • Employment Third (Philippines): Up to two months
  • Employment Fourth (Most countries): Will remain current
  • Employment Fourth (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras): Up to three weeks
  • Employment Fourth (Mexico): Some forward movement
  • Employment Fifth (Most countries): Will remain current
  • Employment Fifth (China): Up to one week

The DOS reminded readers of the October 2017 Visa Bulletin that these projections are based on what is likely to happen based on current applicant demand patterns. The projections are not guarantees of future final action date movement. Changes in demand for immigrant visas in a specific preference category and chargeability area may lead to the movement in final action dates not aligning with the DOS's current projections.

Special Immigrant (SI) Translator Category Visa Availability

The DOS explained that there are only 50 Special Immigrant Visas in the SI category available per fiscal year. Accordingly, it expects to reach the annual limit early in FY 2018. For this reason, the DOS established a final action date of April 1, 2010, for the SI category for October 2017. Once the annual limit of 50 SI category visas has been reached, the DOS will be unable to grant more visas in the category until October 2018.

The DOS added that the “SQ Special Immigrant Visa category for certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan is not affected and remains current.”

Conclusion

Beneficiaries of approved immigrant visa petitions should stay abreast of developments in the visa bulletin. This is especially important for adjustment of status applicants. Those seeking immigrant visas should remain in contact with an experienced immigration attorney throughout the entire process. Please continue to follow our website for developments related to the immigrant visa bulletin.