On August 8, 2016, the Department o State (DOS) released the Visa Bulletin or September 2016 [link]. The Visa Bulletin indicates when the beneficiaries of family sponsored [see category] and employment-based [see category] immigrant visa petitions may file for adjustment of status [see category]. To this effect, the Visa Bulletin contains what are called “application final action dates” and “filing dates.” Each month, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines whether adjustment of status applicants must use the application final action dates or the filing dates. For September 2016, the USCIS determined that persons seeking adjustment of status on the basis of an approved family-sponsored or employment-based immigrant visa petition must use the applicable application final action date from the Visa Bulletin [link].
Notably, the September 2016 Visa Bulletin is the final edition to be issued in the current fiscal year. Accordingly, because the DOS must ensure that it stays within the worldwide limit for allocating immigrant visas in the preference categories, we can expect to see significant movement in several preference categories in the October 2016 Visa Bulletin that will be released next month.
In this article, we will review the application final action dates for adjustment of status applicants in September 2016. To see the Visa Bulletin for August 2016, please see our full article [see article]. To compare these editions of the Visa Bulletin to the July 2016 Visa Bulletin, please see our full article [see article].
The beneficiary of an approved immigrant visa petition must find his or her home country and preference category on the appropriate chart of the Visa Bulletin. If the beneficiary is seeking adjustment of status, he or she will only be able to file for adjustment of status in August 2016 or September 2016 if his or her filing date is before to the final action cutoff date for his or her home country and immigrant visa preference category for the current month. If the priority date is listed as “C,” a beneficiary of an approved immigrant visa petition in that preference category will be eligible to file for adjustment of status in the current month.
For family-sponsored beneficiaries, the priority date will be the date on which the beneficiary's relative filed the immigrant visa petition. For the beneficiaries of employment-based petitions that required labor certification [see category], the priority date will be the date on which the labor certification application was accepted for processing by the Department of Labor (DOL). For employment-based applications that did not require labor certification, the filing date will be the date on which the employer or self-petitioner filed the underlying immigrant visa petition.
|Family-Sponsored||All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA-mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPPINES|
There is generally little forward movement in the September 2016 Visa Bulletin from the August 2016 edition. Several categories saw no movement while the rest saw modest movement from August 2016. Notably, there was no movement at all in the final action dates in the F2A preference category. However, the F1 category saw a jump of several months for China, India, the Philippines, and all other areas save for Mexico (which saw no movement).
|Employment-Based||All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA — mainland born||EL SALVADOR GUATEMALA HONDURAS||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPPINES|
|Certain Religious Workers||C||C||01JAN10||01JAN10||01JAN10||C|
|5th Non-Regional Center (C5 and T5)||C||15FEB14||C||C||C||C|
|5th Regional Center (I5 and R5)||C||15FEB14||C||C||C||C|
Similarly to the final action dates for the family-sponsored categories, there was little movement in most areas from in the employment-based final action dates on the September 2016 Visa Bulletin. A couple of notable exceptions were the EB3 and Other Workers categories for India and the Philippines, both of which saw substantial forward movement from the August 2016 Visa Bulletin to the September 2016 Visa Bulletin.
As we discussed in our article on the August 2016 Visa Bulletin, the following categories will have Final Action dates of current in the October 2016 Visa Bulletin:
- EB1 (China; India)
- EB2 (El Savlvador/Guatemala/Honduras; Mexico; Philippines)
- EB4 (India)
- Certain Religious Workers (India)
It is important for the beneficiaries of approved immigrant visa petitions to keep up to date on the monthly DOS Visa Bulletin and USCIS's subsequent decision on whether applicants for adjustment of status may file using the filing dates or the application final action dates. An applicant seeking adjustment of status on the basis of an approved immigrant visa petition in a preference category is well advised to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance in navigating the adjustment of status process.
Because the October 2016 Visa Bulletin will be the first of a new fiscal year, we can look forward to potential movement in the filing dates and final action dates in numerous categories, especially on the employment-based charts.
The USCIS provides a useful chart that depicts each step of the adjustment of status process. We have reproduced the chart below for your convenience: