USCIS Changes its Procedures for Determining Immigrant Visa Availability

On September 9, 2015, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a re-engineering of their procedures for determining visa availability for applicants seeking employment-based or family-sponsored preference adjustment of status.

Results of the New Procedures

A combined effort between USCIS and the US Department of State (DOS), the new system for determining the visa availability will help the DOS more accurately:

  • Estimate the overall demand for immigrant visas; and
  • Determine the cut-off dates for visa issuance, which are published by the DOS in the monthly Visa Bulletin.

DOS Visa Bulletin

Each month, USCIS and the DOS monitor the visa numbers to be published in the Visa Bulletin charts, which show the current immigrant visa availability for the month. These charts help applicants determine when they may submit their I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Applicants may refer to the Visa Bulletin to see when their priority date becomes available, making them eligible to submit their Form I-485.

Changes Being Made

The changes being made to these procedures are that two charts per visa preference category will be published in the DOS Visa Bulletin. These two charts include:

  • Application Final Action Dates – the dates when immigrant visas are finally issued; and
  • Dates for Filing Applicants – the earliest dates when applicants may apply.

USCIS will be comparing the year’s number of remaining available visas with:

  • Qualifying visa applicants reported by the DOS;
  • Pending adjustment of status applications reported by USCIS; and
  • The historical drop-off rate, including application denials, withdrawals, and abandonments.

The first revised Visa Bulletin is scheduled for October 2015.

For more information, visit the following helpful links: