USCIS Suggests AOS Applicants May Be Able to Use Filing Dates in Early FY-2017

Alexander J. Segal's picture

At the beginning of the current fiscal year (FY), the Department of State (DOS) began publishing two charts for each immigrant visa preference category on the monthly Visa Bulletin. The first chart contains Filing Dates and the second chart contains Final Action Dates. In most categories, the Filing Date is significantly more recent than the Final Action Date. This means that when immigrant visa applicants are allowed to use the Filing Dates, they will generally be able to file for an immigrant visa significantly sooner than if they are restricted to the Final Action Dates. To learn more, please see the blog that I wrote at the time [see blog].

Within a few days of the posting of a Visa Bulletin, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines whether it will accept adjustment of status applications based off of the Filing Date chart or the Final Action Date chart. USCIS's decision is based off demand for immigrant visas in conjunction with the annual cap on available visas.

In 2015, USCIS only allowed employment-based adjustment of status applicants to use the Filing Date Chart for October and November. However, the USCIS allowed family-sponsored adjustment of status applicants to use the Filing Date Chart each month from October to April. Since May, the USCIS has required adjustment of status applicants to use the Final Action Date charts.

The American Association of Immigration Lawyers (AILA) reported that in April of 2016, the USCIS indicated that adjustment of status applicants may again be able to use the Filing Date charts at the beginning of FY-2017 (beginning with the October 2016 Visa Bulletin). However, the USCIS was careful to note that this is not a certainty. Furthermore, even if USCIS decides to accept adjustment of status applications based on the Filing Date charts early in FY-2017, it may still be required to begin using the Final Action Date charts for the majority of fiscal year FY-2017.

An applicant waiting to be eligible to file for adjustment of status on the basis of an approved family-sponsored or employment-based preference petition should consult with his or her immigration attorney. An experienced immigration attorney will be able to assess the likelihood that USCIS using the Filing Date charts would allow an applicant to file for an adjustment of status early in FY-2016, and plan accordingly for that possibility.

See AILA Doc. No. 16082401