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Understanding the "New" Visa Bulletin

Sep 18, 2015

Avid readers of the visa bulletin (and really, who isn't?), will notice a significant change with the October 2015 bulletin. The Visa Bulletin now has two sets of dates for family and employment. The first set of dates is termed "Final Action Dates", and the second set is termed the "Dates for Filing". The names do say it all. Applicants for adjustment can now file their applications when their priority date is current in the "Dates for Filing" set, but CIS won't be able to approve the application until the priority date is current under "Final Action Dates".

According to an update from Charlie Oppenheim at the State Department, the "Date for Filing" chart consists of the "qualifying dates" that the State Department has historically established for the purpose of sending out "agent of choice" letters for intending immigrants who will consular process. So, it is not a new concept for the agencies, but is a great "new" process for the public.

Being able to file for adjustment of status, even if it is just a few months sooner, can carry great benefits. An applicant for adjustment can fiel ancillary applications for work authorization and advance parole (permission to travel). Thus, family members who have not had work authorization can get it. It may also make it easier for employment based applicants to take advantage of portability under AC21. The downside I can see is the possible expiration of medical exams if priority dates don't move forward swiftly. Overall, this is a great development, and will hopefully give the agencies the ability to better predict visa demand.

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