You may be aware that there is some potential impact of the changes to the Visa Bulletin issued by the DOS (Department of State).
The visa modernization initiative announced by President Obama last year has moved forward slowly. One bright spot is a change to the Department of State’s current system of determining visa eligibility.
Now there are two important dates listed on the monthly Visa Bulletin: the “filing date,” which determines when individuals can submit their permanent residence applications (i.e., Form I-485), and the “final action” date, which determines when the Department of State or USCIS can make a decision on the applications.
If an applicant has a “priority date” earlier than the listed “filing date” for his/her particular visa category and country, s/he will be able to file his/her application for permanent residence (Form I-485) earlier than s/he would have been allowed under the old process. However, s/he will still have to wait for the “final action” date to become current before permanent residence (i.e., green card) can be approved.
For people who are in the United States stuck in the long visa backlogs, this means they will be able to receive employment authorization (EADs) and travel documents (Aps) while they await final action on their cases. This procedural change will give them greater flexibility and job mobility while allowing them to maintain their status.
Additionally, individuals stuck in the family-based backlogs will be able to seek employment while waiting their final determination, bringing more economic stability to these families-though in most cases it will only reduce their wait for employment authorization by a matter of a few months or a year.
This new system will provide the Department of State and USCIS with better data for determining overall visa demand which should allow the State Department to make better predictions regarding future backlog movement.
If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact us.
Link to the original bulletin: Visa Bulletin PDF – October 2015