September 15, 2015

Together, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and the Department of State have announced revised procedures for determining immigrant visa availability, per a press release from USCIS. The new two-track system allocates one set of dates showing applicants whose priority date is Current-To-File, and a separate set of dates for already-pending applicants whose priority date is Current-for-Final-Approval.

The new bifurcated system can be seen in the upcoming October Visa Bulletin, which provides two charts each for Family-Based and Employment-Based applicants. If you are not certain which chart applies, the Department of State provides a handy Priority Date Checker.

This new system for allocating immigrant visa numbers will allow more people to file for adjustment of status or immigrant visas sooner. For adjustment of status applicants in the United States, this will mean they and their dependents can get unrestricted work authorization sooner. However, it may mean longer wait times for final green card approval, especially for those whose I-485 adjustment of status applications are already pending.

*In less than a month, disagreement between the Department of State and USCIS reached a point where the Visa Bulletin now refers readers to the other agency’s website to tell which chart they may use to see if they will be eligible to apply for adjustment of status. Each month, the Visa Bulletin now reads “Visit for information on whether USCIS has determined that this chart can be used…this month for filing applications for adjustment of status with USCIS.” Due to persistent processing backlogs, USCIS insists that employment-based applicants must use the “Final Action Dates” chart to determine eligibility to file Form I-485.