October 2015 Visa Bulletin- Huge Changes- Take Note

The October 2015 Visa Bulletin was released today with some profound changes. As part of the Executive Action measures to bring positive policy changes, and to coincide with the idea of filing for adjustment when you have an I-140 approved (see my GeekWire Article)– the Department of State introduced two new charts- one for when the green card will be issued and one for when one can file their green card application. So, now there will be 4 charts- 2 for employment-based preferences and 2 for family-based preferences. I am copying the entire bulletin here for ease of reference.

In terms of important news: The Religious Green Card applications and EB5 Investor Visa pilot program visas are scheduled to expire (or stop) on September 30, 2015.  This is because both these programs are to sunset on Sept. 30 unless the law is extended. It is hoped that the law will be extended just like it has in the past. It is important to note that if you fall into one of these categories, you should definitely file before the deadline as lawmakers are so unpredictable these days.

A.  APPLICATION FINAL ACTION DATES FOR
FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCE CASES

On the chart below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed (see paragraph 1); “C” means current, i.e., numbers are authorized for issuance to all qualified applicants; and “U” means unauthorized, i.e., numbers are not authorized for issuance. (NOTE:  Numbers are authorized for issuance only for applicants whose priority date isearlier than the cut-off date listed below.)

Family-Sponsored All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA-mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 15JAN08 15JAN08 15JAN08 22NOV94 01JUN01
F2A 15APR14 15APR14 15APR14 01MAR14 15APR14
F2B 15JAN09 15JAN09 15JAN09 01AUG95 01OCT04
F3 22MAY04 22MAY04 22MAY04 08JUN94 01OCT93
F4 08FEB03 08FEB03 08FEB03 22MAR97 01MAY92

*NOTE:  For October, F2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are authorized for issuance to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than 01MAR14. F2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are authorized for issuance to applicants chargeable to all countries EXCEPT MEXICO with priority dates beginning 01MAR14 and earlier than 15APR14. (All F2A numbers provided for MEXICO are exempt from the per-country limit; there are no F2A numbers for MEXICO subject to per-country limit.)

B.  DATES FOR FILING FAMILY-SPONSORED
VISA APPLICATIONS

The chart below reflects dates for filing visa applications within a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process. Applicants for immigrant visas who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date in the chart below may assemble and submit required documents to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, following receipt of notification from the National Visa Center containing detailed instructions. The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who cannot submit documentation to the National Visa Center for an immigrant visa. If a category is designated “current,” all applicants in the relevant category may file applications, regardless of priority date.

The “C” listing indicates that the category is current, and that applications may be filed regardless of the applicant’s priority date. The listing of a date for any category indicates that only applicants with a priority date which isearlier than the listed date may file their application.

USCIS has determined that this chart may be used (in lieu of the chart in paragraph 4.A.) this month for filing applications for adjustment of status with USCIS. Applicants for adjustment of status may visitwww.USCIS.gov/visabulletininfo for additional information.

Family-
Sponsored
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 01MAY09 01MAY09 01MAY09 01JUL95 01SEP05
F2A 01MAR15 01MAR15 01MAR15 01MAR15 01MAR15
F2B 01JUL10 01JUL10 01JUL10 01JAN96 01JAN05
F3 01APR05 01APR05 01APR05 01OCT96 01AUG95
F4 01FEB04 01FEB04 01FEB04 01MAY98 01JAN93

5.  Section 203(b) of the INA prescribes preference classes for allotment of Employment-based immigrant visas as follows:

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

First:  Priority Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second:  Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third:  Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “*Other Workers”.

Fourth:  Certain Special Immigrants:  7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth:  Employment Creation:  7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of Pub. L. 102-395.

A.  APPLICATION FINAL ACTION DATES FOR
EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES

On the chart below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed (see paragraph 1); “C” means current, i.e., numbers are authorized for issuance to all qualified applicants; and “U” means unauthorized, i.e., numbers are not authorized for issuance. (NOTE: Numbers are authorized for issuance only for applicants whose priority date is earlierthan the cut-off date listed below.)

Employment- Based All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA – mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01JAN12 01MAY05 C C
3rd 15AUG15 15OCT11 08MAR04 15AUG15 01JAN07
Other Workers 15AUG15 01JAN06 08MAR04 15AUG15 01JAN07
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious Workers U U U U U
5th
Targeted
Employment
Areas/
Regional Centers
C 08OCT13 C C C
5th
Pilot
Programs
U U U U U

*Employment Third Preference Other Workers Category:  Section 203(e) of the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) passed by Congress in November 1997, as amended by Section 1(e) of Pub. L. 105-139, provides that once the Employment Third Preference Other Worker (EW) cut-off date has reached the priority date of the latest EW petition approved prior to November 19, 1997, the 10,000 EW numbers available for a fiscal year are to be reduced by up to 5,000 annually beginning in the following fiscal year. This reduction is to be made for as long as necessary to offset adjustments under the NACARA program. Since the EW cut-off date reached November 19, 1997 during Fiscal Year 2001, the reduction in the EW annual limit to 5,000 began in Fiscal Year 2002.

B.  DATES FOR FILING OF EMPLOYMENT-BASED
VISA APPLICATIONS

The chart below reflects dates for filing visa applications within a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process. Applicants for immigrant visas who have a priority date earlier than the cut-off date in the chart may assemble and submit required documents to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, following receipt of notification from the National Visa Center containing detailed instructions. The cut-off date for an oversubscribed category is the priority date of the first applicant who cannot submit documentation to the National Visa Center for an immigrant visa. If a category is designated “current,” all applicants in the relevant category may file, regardless of priority date.

The “C” listing indicates that the category is current, and that applications may be filed regardless of the applicant’s priority date. The listing of a date for any category indicates that only applicants with a priority date which isearlier than the listed date may file their application.

USCIS has determined that this chart may be used (in lieu of the chart in paragraph 5.A.) this month for filing applications for adjustment of status with USCIS. Applicants for adjustment of status may visitwww.USCIS.gov/visabulletininfo for additional information.

Employment-
Based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01MAY14 01JUL11 C C
3rd 01SEP15 01OCT13 01JUL05 01SEP15 01JAN15
Other Workers 01SEP15 01JAN07 01JUL05 01SEP15 01JAN15
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious
Workers
C C C C C
5th Targeted
Employment Areas/
Regional Centers
and Pilot Programs
C 01MAY15 C C C

6.  The Department of State has a recorded message with the cut-off date information for Final Application Action which can be heard at:  (202) 485-7699.  This recording is updated on or about the tenth of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following month.

B.  DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT (DV) CATEGORY FOR THE MONTH 
OF OCTOBER

Section 203(c) of the INA provides up to 55,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year to permit additional immigration opportunities for persons from countries with low admissions during the previous five years. The NACARA stipulates that beginning with DV-99, and for as long as necessary, up to 5,000 of the 55,000 annually-allocated diversity visas will be made available for use under the NACARA program. This resulted in reduction of the DV-2016 annual limit to 50,000. DV visas are divided among six geographic regions.  No one country can receive more than seven percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.

For October, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2016 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

Region All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately
AFRICA 9,100 Except:
Egypt:     8,000
Ethiopia:  8,000
ASIA 2,800 Except:
Nepal:      2,400
EUROPE 9,150
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) 2
OCEANIA 275
SOUTH AMERICA,
and the CARIBBEAN
475

Entitlement to immigrant status in the DV category lasts only through the end of the fiscal (visa) year for which the applicant is selected in the lottery. The year of entitlement for all applicants registered for the DV-2016 program ends as of September 30, 2016. DV visas may not be issued to DV-2016 applicants after that date. Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2016 principals are only entitled to derivative DV status until September 30, 2016. DV visa availability through the very end of FY-2016 cannot be taken for granted. Numbers could be exhausted prior to September 30.

C.  THE DIVERSITY (DV) IMMIGRANT CATEGORY RANK CUT-OFFS 
WHICH WILL APPLY IN NOVEMBER

For November, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2016 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

Region All DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately
AFRICA 13,000 Except:
Egypt:     10,450
Ethiopia:  9,800
ASIA 3,100 Except:
Nepal:      2,450
EUROPE 12,500
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) 3
OCEANIA 400
SOUTH AMERICA,
and the CARIBBEAN
600

D.  SCHEDULED EXPIRATION OF TWO EMPLOYMENT VISA
CATEGORIES

Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR): Pursuant to Section 3 of Public Law 112-176, the non-minister special immigrant program expires on September 30, 2015. No SR visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after September 30, 2015. Visas issued prior to this date will only be issued with a validity date of September 30, 2015, and all individuals seeking admission as a non-minister special immigrant must be admitted (repeat, admitted) into the U.S. no later than midnight September 30, 2015.

Employment Fifth Preference Categories (I5 and R5): Section 1 of Public Law 112-176 extended this immigrant investor pilot program through September 30, 2015. The I5 and R5 visas may be issued until close of business on September 30, 2015, and may be issued for the full validity period. No I5 or R5 visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after September 30, 2015.

The cut-off dates for the categories mentioned above have been listed as “Unavailable” for October. Congress is currently considering an extension of the SR, I5 and R5 visa categories, but there is no certainty when such legislative action may occur. If there is legislative action extending one or both of these categories for FY-2016, those cut-off dates would immediately become “Current” for October for all countries except China-mainland born I5 and R5 categories which would be subject to an October 8, 2013 cut-off date.

0 thoughts on “October 2015 Visa Bulletin- Huge Changes- Take Note

  • With 2 family based charts, how can you tell which one to follow for your relative? One says “preference” and one does not. What does that mean?

  • Hi John, great question! Please note that I do believe USCIS will provide more guidance soon. In the meantime, to answer your question:

    You will need to follow both charts still. The first chart “Final Action” is when the green card will actually be issued.

    The second chart “Filing Visa Applications” is when one can take immediate action to process the case. For consular processing, meaning people waiting abroad- they can file the civil documentations and affidavit of support to the National Visa Center. It seems NVC will ask for it first though.

    People who are in the US should be able to file their Adjustment of Status documentation. This will allow obtaining a work and travel permit- which will continue until an actual green card is issued (as per ‘Final’ chart).

    I expect USCIS to confirm these steps very soon. Keep an eye on our blog posts and thanks again for asking a great question.

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