USCIS has updated its directions in terms of when the new “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” chart can be used to determine when you can file your I-485, or if you need to wait for the “Final Action Date” to become current.
To refresh people’s memories, the Department of State, starting with the October Visa Bulletin, changed the way they report priority dates for immigrant visas. They now have two charts that they present for family based immigrant visas, and two charts for employment based immigrant visas. The first chart, the ‘Final Action Date” coincides with the old visa bulletin and lists the date at which a final action can be taken on the I-485 case and an immigrant visa can be issued. The second chart, the “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” coincides with the date that the Department of State uses to let Embassies and Consulates know when to start processing immigrant visa cases that they think will become current in the near future. USCIS is now also using this second chart to determine when you can file the I-485 application if you are in the US, with one proviso. Each Month USCIS will determine whether they are following this second chart or not. If so, you can file your I-485 according to the “Dates for Filing…” chart. If not, you can only file when your date is current on the “Final Action Date” chart.
We knew all this previously, but USCIS’s decision on whether to use the “Date for Filing…” chart was listed in the Visa Bulletin itself. However, starting with the November Visa Bulletin, USCIS no longer lists that data in the Visa Bulletin, instead it appears elsewhere on their website. According to USCIS:
Beginning with the November 2015 Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin, if USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, we will state on www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo that applicants may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart. Unless otherwise stated on our website, the Application Final Action Date chart will be used to determine when individuals may file their adjustment of status applications.
We anticipate making this determination each month and posting the relevant chart on our website within one week of DOS’ publication of the Visa Bulletin.
For those who are trying to determine when you can file, the USCIS website is not where you will have to go to ensure you have updated information in this regard.
Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.