USCIS and US Department of State have recently agreed to revise the visa availability charts in the monthly Visa Bulletin, which would allow early filing of green card applications for thousands of applicants. Before the recent changes, the Visa Bulletin only had a single chart of cut-off dates, which was the same as the newly labeled "Final Action Date" chart. These dates indicate when a green card becomes available so that I-485 may be approved.
The newly revised Visa Bulletin will have two charts. One chart will have “Final Action Date” showing when visas may finally be issued and one chart will have “Filing Date” indicating the earliest dates when applicants may be able to apply for adjustment of status. Basically applicants will be able to apply for their green card through adjustment of status or consular processing before their priority date becomes current and an immigrant visa becomes immediately available. The priority date is the date when the applicant’s relative or employer filed the immigrant visa petition on the applicant’s behalf with USCIS.
Applicants applying abroad through consular processing with priority dates earlier than the date listed on the "Filing Date" will be notified by the National Visa Center that they may start submitting their documentation. However, a final decision on the immigrant visa application cannot take place until the priority date is current. Applicants adjusting in the U.S. may use the "Filing Date." if USCIS determines there are sufficient immigrant visas available to support the filing of additional adjustment applications. Please note October 2015 Visa Bulletin allows applicants to use the "Filing Date" chart to file adjustment of status applications with the USCIS for the month of October.
For example, the “Final Action Date” for spouses of permanent residents (F2A category) in October visa bulletin is 15APR14. However, the “Filing Date” for the same category is 01MAR15. Therefore, a candidate for an adjustment of status application with a priority date earlier from Marc 1, 2015 would be allowed to file the adjustment of status application in October. Before the recent changes, it would not have been possible for any applicant to file an adjustment if they did not have a priority date after March 1, 2015.
This recent change will allow employment and family based applicants who file their applications through adjustment of status to receive their work and travel authorizations earlier than priority dates become available.
Remzi G. Kulen Esq.
Kulen Law Firm P.C.