Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Sharlene Sharmila Richards


                On September 9th, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State announced a change in the procedure that will now allow individuals caught in the immigrant visa backlogs to file their applications for adjustment of status or for immigrant visas before their priority dates become current. Starting with the October Visa 2015 Visa Bulletin, it will be published in a different form. It will have two charts listing separate dates for each preference category and country of chargeability. The two charts are the ‘’Application Final Action Date” (Final Action Date) chart and “Dates of Filing Applications” (Date of Filing) chart.         

                This new proposed change will provide the much needed relief for individuals and families caught in the immigrant visa backlogs to file their applications for adjustment of status or their applications for immigrant visa earlier than before their priority date becomes current. This can save months or in some cases, several years of waiting before one could file for permanent residence.

October 2015 Visa Bulletin – The Two Charts

                The Visa Bulletin, which is published monthly by the Department of State will now contain two separate charts for each of the Family and Employment based preference categories. The “Final Action Date” chart details the earliest possible dates for which the immigrant visa or adjustment of status applications can be approved. The “Dates for Filing” chart details the dates on which such applications can be filed. Once such applications are filed, they will effectively remain pending until the “Final Action Date” is reached. The previous Visa Bulletins only had one chart each – the date for which the applicants’ priority date became current and which meant that applicants could only file their immigrant visa or adjustment of status applications at that time and for the adjudication of the applications to take place at the same time. These changes will affect immigrant visa and adjustment of status applicants as follow:

Immigrant Visa Applicants (Consular Processing)

Individuals with priority dates earlier than the date listed on the “Dates of Filing” chart for their preference category and country of chargeability will be notified by the National Visa Center that they may prepare and file their supporting documentation and begin the Immigrant Visa application process. A final decision on the immigrant visa application cannot however be given until the priority date becomes current i.e. earlier than the “Final Action Date”.

Adjustment of Status Applicants (US)

Individuals who are in the United States and are eligible to adjust status to permanent residents must use the “Final Action Date” chart to determine when they may submit their applications for adjustment of status unless the Visa Bulletin indicates that they may instead use the “Date of Filing” chart. The early “Date of Filing” chart may only be used if USCIS indicates that there are sufficient immigrant visas available to support the filing of additional adjustment applications beyond that which would be received under the “Final Action Date” chart. For the month of October 2015, USCIS has agreed to permit immigrants to use the “Dates of Filing” chart to file their adjustment applications. Thus, individuals who have a priority date earlier than the “Filing Date” cut-off for the month of October may submit an adjustment application in October 2015.

Benefits of this proposed change

At first glance, the benefits of this proposed change can be seen in the following areas: Adjustment of status applicants can file for employment authorization together with their adjustment application (I-485) and receive their EAD (Employment Authorization Document) within the 90 day timeframe. In addition, they can also file for advance parole to enable them to travel outside the US and return back without the need of securing a new visa for entry. Applicants will also be able to take advantage of the AC21 portability rule sooner rather than later. The AC21 portability rule allows adjustment applicants to change of jobs in the same or similar occupational classification for which the labor certification was certified for if the application for adjustment of status has been filed and remain pending for 180 days or more. This may also reduce the number of H-1B and L-1 extension filings and save employers thousands of dollars in filing fees each year. Lastly, but not least, in conjunction with the application of the Child Status Protection Act,  it may also have a positive impact on reducing the number of derivative beneficiaries aging out (turning 21).

Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case.

My Bio

Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration Lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. She has very successfully assisted many of her clients in their citizenship applications and interviews. If you are thinking of applying for citizenship and require advice or assistance, you may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at srichardslaw@aol.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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