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October 2016 Visa Bulletin – Update – USCIS Allows Earlier Filing Dates

26 Sep

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) has recently announced that individuals may use the “Dates for Filing” of certain employment based visa applications listed in the Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for October 2016. This means that individuals under certain employment-based categories will be able to file I-485 Applications to Adjust Status to permanent resident significantly earlier than originally anticipated.

As a result of new filing dates recognized by the CIS, applicants will be able to file I-485 Applications to Adjust Status to permanent resident based on the filing cut-off dates, rather than “final action” dates. Applicants will therefore be able to file I-485 applications even before an immigrant visa number is immediately available. The new format enables applicants and their dependent family members under backlogged categories to apply for ancillary benefits much earlier, including Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards and Advance Parole travel documents. Earlier filing of an I-485 Application to Adjust Status to permanent resident also enables applicants to qualify for “portability” of the permanent residency process earlier, because eligibility is triggered by the passage of 180 days since the filing of the applicant’s I-485 Application to Adjust Status.

The biggest changes are for EB-2 and EB-3 applicants born in China and India.  EB-2 and EB-3 applicants born in China can now file I-485 applications more than a year earlier than anticipated.  EB-3 applicants born in India can now file more than two years earlier than anticipated. Additionally, the EB-3 preference categories for all individuals,  except those born in China, India and the Philippines, are now current and EB-3 Philippines allows for filing nearly three years earlier.

As a reminder, in October 2015 the DOS began including two separate cutoff dates under backlogged categories. The “filing cutoff date” represents the cutoff date for filing new Applications to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident (green card) with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS). The “final action cutoff date” represents the cutoff date for approval of pending applications. The “final action cutoff date” is the date that was traditionally published each month in the Visa Bulletin and prior to the October 2016 visa bulletin has been the only dates previously used by the CIS in determining filing eligibility.

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As always, Foster will continue to monitor immigrant visa availability and the procedures that allow for filing Applications to Adjust Status to permanent resident and will provide additional information in future Immigration Updates© and on our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.