Visa Bulletin Dates Retrogress

On September 25, 2015, the Department of State (DOS) and United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) dramatically changed their September 9, 2015 announcement calling for revised procedures for individuals waiting to file for Adjustment of Status (AOS). In the revised announcement, the DOS and USCIS significantly adjusted Family-Based and Employment-Based preference timelines and released a new October Visa Bulletin, superseding the Visa Bulletin released on September 9th.

In their September 9th announcement, the DOS and USCIS announced that, beginning in October 2015, two charts per visa preference category will be posted in the monthly DOS Visa Bulletin. This change means the priority dates for persons who were permitted to file for AOS has moved up significantly, allowing many more individuals to file for AOS sooner, although these individuals may still have to wait several years to actually receive green cards. See Clark Hill's September 10, 2015 Immigration Update for more details.

Under the new September 25th revision, many individuals planning to file for AOS starting October 1, 2015 will now be unable to file in October. While there will continue to be two dates on the Visa Bulletin, we do not expect to see the dates progress as originally anticipated. Priority dates for filing AOS applications in employment-based second cases (EB-2) for China is at January 1, 2013 (previously May 1, 2014) and EB-2 India is at July 1, 2009 (previously July 1, 2011). Priority dates for filing AOS applications for employment-based third cases (EB-3) remain unchanged. China EB-3 is at October 1, 2013. EB-3 India is at July 1, 2005. Please note that these dates will likely change with each monthly Visa Bulletin and may move either forward or retrogress. For a summary of priority dates, retrogression, and how these dates impact US green card processing, please visit the Clark Hill website.

Clark Hill is very disappointed by this new development. It is not clear "why" USCIS decided to change their direction. In an official statement, USCIS gave the following reasons:

Following consultations with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Dates for Filing Applications for some categories in the Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based preferences have been adjusted to better reflect a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process... Please be advised that DHS will rely on this revised bulletin, rather than the bulletin published on September 9, 2015, when considering whether an individual is eligible to file an application for adjustment of status...

This last minute change is very unfortunate and unfair to the thousands of potential applicants who were preparing to file their AOS applications.