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DOS Revises Immigration Visa Bulletin Procedures

A revised Immigration Visa Bulletin has been released by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). In coordination with DOS, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) has revised procedures for determining when applicants who are waiting to file employment-based or family-sponsored adjustment of status applications may actually file those applications. Although seemingly complicated, this new procedure will better align with procedures used by DOS for foreign nationals who seek to become U.S. permanent residents by applying for immigrant visas at U.S. consulates and embassies abroad.

These revised procedures will enhance DOS's ability to more accurately predict overall immigrant visa demand and determine the cut-off dates for visa issuance published in the Visa Bulletin. This will help ensure that the maximum number of immigrant visas are issued annually as intended by Congress, and minimize month-to-month fluctuations in Visa Bulletin final action dates.

These Visa Bulletin revisions implement November 2014 executive actions on immigration announced by President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson, as detailed in the White House report, Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st century, issued in July 2015.

Prospective preference immigrants (not immediate relatives) have a "priority date" (the date that a petition or an application for labor certification was filed on their behalf). The family sponsored and employment based categories will now each have two charts posted by DOS each month. The first chart is "Application Final Action Dates" and lists the priority dates for which visas may actually be issued. The second chart is "Dates for Filing Applications" which lists the earliest priority dates for which an applicant may actually file their Form I-485 (Application for Adjustment of Status).

This is a welcome change that will provide marginal benefit many individuals and provide better data to allow DOS and CIS to determine overall visa demand and to better predict future visa backlog movement. However, these incremental "baby steps" do not solve overall failure of our immigration system.

We need Congress to "step up to the plate" and acknowledge that our outdated immigration laws are hurting the United States, businesses, and communities. We need comprehensive immigration reform.

At Miley & Brown, P.C., we applaud any efforts to move smart immigration reform. We can all help by visiting us at where you can contact Congress to tell them what you think. 

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