Adjustment of immigration status: Visa availability process revised

The DOS bulletins are changing in an attempt to help better ensure the maximum amount of immigrant visas are issued annually.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported in its October 2015 Visa Bulletin that the agency is revising the visa availability process. The changes will specifically impact applicants filing for employment-based and family-sponsored adjustment of status. The change, according to the agency, is designed to better align with the Department of State (DOS) procedures for foreign nationals seeking permanent status at U.S. consulates and embassies abroad.

More on the process

Immigrants may be able to submit their applications for change of status earlier than in past years. The USCIS states that immigrants must meet all required qualifications in a particular category to qualify. Two examples of ways to qualify include:

  • Family. Family members in the United States that are U.S. citizens, green card holders or permanent residents, refugees admitted within the last two years or granted asylum within the last two years maybe able to petition for permanent residence on an immigrant's behalf when the immigrant is a relative or future relative, like a fiancé or adoptive child.
  • Employment. A petition can also be filed by an employer on behalf of an immigrant.

The USCIS notes that the changes are being made in an attempt to "help ensure that the maximum number of immigrant visas are issued annually as intended by Congress."

To help ensure this, changes are being made to the DOS monthly Visa Bulletins. These bulletins are designed to indicate when statutorily limited visas are available to prospective immigrants. The bulletins will be changed to help provide more current information. In the past, the information available in these bulletins contained only one set of data, referred to as the "Application Final Action Date." This will be adjusted, now posting two charts in the DOS Visa Bulletin. One will provide dates when visas may be issued and the other will provide dates for filling applications.

Concerns about timing of posted dates, importance of legal counsel

There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the actual implementation of this new system. As a result, those who are attempting to change their status are wise to seek the legal counsel of an experienced immigration lawyer. This legal professional will assist in putting together the application and necessary materials, working to better ensure your goals are met.