On August 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued the September Visa Bulletin [PDF version]. On August 10, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determined that those seeking adjustment of status in the family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visa preference categories must use the final action dates instead of the more generous filing dates [PDF version].
The September Visa Bulletin represents the last Visa Bulletin of FY-2017. It is the first of the 12 visa bulletins from the fiscal year to see priority date regression in several categories, which we will detail in the article. The next Visa Bulletin, for October 2017, will be the first Visa Bulletin of FY-2018.
In this article, we will examine the final action dates for both the family-sponsored and employment-based preference cases. We will also examine the DOS's news and notes included with the September Visa Bulletin. Please see our full articles on using the Visa Bulletin [see article] and the difference between final action dates and filing dates [see article] in order to learn more about the issues discussed in this article.
Finally, please see our comprehensive list of all articles on FY-2017 Visa Bulletins [see article].
The USCIS has determined that beneficiaries of approved family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions must use the final action dates from the September 2017 Visa Bulletin for filing for adjustment of status. The beneficiary of an approved family-sponsored petition may file for adjustment of status if the final action date for his or her preference category and chargeability area is earlier than his or her priority date. If the applicable final action date is after the priority date, the applicant will be ineligible to file for adjustment of status in September. The priority date is generally when the immigrant visa petition was properly filed.
|Family-Sponsored||All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA-mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPPINES|
The F1 final action dates for Worldwide, China, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, and Honduras retrogressed to May 1, 2010. The F4 final action dates in these categories retrogessed to January 1, 2002 (see also Interpreter Releases Daily 4 08-10-17). Note that El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are not included on the family-sponsored chart, but are noted in the DOS's comments on the Visa Bulletin.
The DOS appended the following note for the F2A category: “NOTE: For September, F2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are authorized for issuance to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 22SEP15. F2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are authorized for issuance to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 22SEP15 and earlier than 01OCT15. All F2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit.”
The USCIS has determined that beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions must use the final action dates from the September 2017 Visa Bulletin for filing for adjustment of status. The beneficiary of an approved family-sponsored petition may file for adjustment of status if the final action date for his or her preference category and chargeability area is earlier than his or her priority date. If the applicable final action date is after the priority date, the applicant will be ineligible to file for adjustment of status in September. The priority date depends on the type of employment-based petition. If labor certification was required, the priority date will generally be the date on which the labor certification application was approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. If labor certification was not required, the priority date will generally be when the petition was properly filed.
|Employment-Based||All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA-mainland born||El SALVADOR GUATEMALA HONDURAS||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPPINES|
|Certain Religious Workers||C||C||22OCT15||22OCT15||22OCT15||C|
|5th Non-Regional Center (C5 and T5)||C||15JUN14||C||C||C||C|
|5th Regional Center (I5 and R5)||C||15JUN14||C||C||C||C|
News and Notes from the September 2017 Visa Bulletin
The DOS noted that retrogression of final action dates for Family First Preference (F1) and Family Fourth Preference (F4) occurred for Worldwide, China, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, and Honduras. The retrogression of the final action dates was necessary to keep visa numbers within the annual per-country limits for FY-2017. The DOS explained that the final action dates will return to what they were for the October 2017 Visa Bulletin.
The DOS determined the family-sponsored and employment-based preference numerical limits for FY-2017, as required by section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The limitations are as follows:
- Worldwide Family-Sponsored: 226,000
- Worldwide Employment-Based: 140,000
Based on these numbers and the per-country limitation in section 202(a) of the INA, the FY-2017 per-country limit is 25,620. The dependent area annual limit is 7,320.
As we noted, the September 2017 Visa Bulletin is the final Visa Bulletin for FY-2017. The next edition in October will be the first of FY-2018, and it may permit applicants to use the filing dates instead of the final action dates. We will update the site once the October 2017 Visa Bulletin is released.