In my previous blog articles, I explained the purpose of the Visa Bulletin, “Priority Dates” and “Foreign Chargeability” as they applied to family-based and employment-based immigrant visas. The time a foreign national has to wait for an immigrant visa to become available depends on annual limits in the visa categories, the priority date, and the number of applicants for the country or chargeability.
Remember that the Visa Bulletin should only be used if the foreign national is outside of the U.S. and intends to consular process. If the foreign national is outside of the U.S. and intends to enter on a tourist visa, then get married, then he or she would be able to adjust status (obtain a green card in the U.S.).
Near the end of this blog, I will show you how to use the Visa Bulletin and the differences between the two charts. But first, a little more explanation…
The “priority date” is found near the top of an I-130 Approval Notice or Receipt Notice. You want to make sure that the priority date is “current” since that is when the foreign national is able to start consular processing. In most cases, the National Visa Center will send you a notice that informs you a priority date is current. If you are unsure, the foreign national or I-130 petitioner can always call the National Visa Center (NVC).
Two important things to note are: 1) make sure that you always notify NVC of changes in addresses; and 2) make sure to notify NVC in case the foreign national or petitioner’s circumstances change (foreign national marries/divorces, I-130 petitioner dies, etc.). This is important because that is how NVC will track the foreign national’s eligibility to start consular processing. So if the foreign national is a married son of a USC, then hires a divorce attorney and gets a divorce, his category changes from married son of USC (F-3) to unmarried son of USC (F-1). That means he is now able to consular process sooner and therefore get his green card sooner.
A priority date is considered “current” when it is earlier than the cut-off date published in the most recent Visa Bulletin for your visa country, and country numerical limits. An immigrant visa petition with a current priority date is eligible for processing after the first of that month. If you file too early, your application will be rejected.
Step 1: Find your priority date as listed on the I-130 Receipt or Approval Notice.
Step 2: Figure out the country in which you were born (if backlogged, see if cross-chargeability applies).
Step 3: Look at the most current Visa Bulletin to see if you are eligible to apply for immigrant visa.
Below are two charts from the Family-Sponsored Preferences for the Visa Bulletin from January, 2016. The first chart lists the Filing Dates for Family-Sponsored Adjustment of Status Applications. The dates are listed as DD/Month/YY. Find your category in the left column, then move right until you find your country of chargeability. If your priority date is before the date listed in the box, then you can apply to adjust status.
Using both charts in conjunction, let’s look at an example. Let’s say that you are the Unmarried Son of a U.S. Citizen (F-1) born in Guatemala with a priority date of November, 2010 and you want to file your application to adjust status. You would use the first chart to find out when you can file your application. Foreign nationals born in Guatemala in the F1 category with a priority date before October 1, 2009 would be able to file their application to adjust status. Using the second chart, the priority date would not become current for another 17 months. The benefit is that you do no longer have to wait 17 months to file your application. You can file it now and obtain the benefit of employment authorization and advance parole. The employment-based preferences are determined in a similar way.
The second chart tells you when the priority dates become current. Although you may be able to file your green card application, employment authorization, and advance parole application, the priority date may not actually become current for a while (which means that your green card application would remain pending for a while). The same principles apply for the employment-based charts.
There are certain legal issues beyond the scope of this explanation such as conversion of family-based petitions and retention of PDs, PDs for children not eligible for CSPA, Aging Out, and consequences of the naturalization of a parent. If you have any of these issues, please call us.
Our firm has many “tricks” that have been tried and proven to be true in many clients’ cases.So don’t think you are powerless. Hiring the right attorney can make the process less stressful and more efficient, resulting in a quicker approval, for both straightforward and non-straightforward cases. We see cases to the very end and are not satisfied until we see the green card approval notice or the immigrant visa (for consular processing cases).
Please contact our office to schedule a consultation. We are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm and Saturday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. In-person consultations are by appointment only. Please call our office at 301.529.1912 or click here to contact us. Please be sure to provide a timeline of events along with details of your entire immigration history.