The US Visa Bulletin for January 2016, issued by the Department of State (DoS), showed movement in dates to allow for earlier processing of employment based immigrant visas in some cases. These dates are used to determine when certain immigrants may file employment-based visa petitions, other immigrant visas, and when an immigration visa can be approved by adjustment of status or visa consular processing from outside the US. Indians are the main beneficiary in the most recent visa bulletin with movement of eight months in the application final action date for EB-2 employment based immigrant visa petitions. Indians may therefore potentially receive their EB-2 immigrant visa eight months earlier than would otherwise be the case.
Immigrant Priority Dates
There are what is called "priority dates" for immigrant petitions. Immigration priority dates are usually when an application is made for an employment based immigrant visa, when an application for labor certification is made or when another type of immigration application is made. If your priority date is an earlier date than mentioned in the US Visa Bulletin you can submit your visa application. This regulates immigrant visa availability and the flow of adjustment of status and consular immigrant visa application filings and approvals.
Understanding the January 2016 US Visa Bulletin
The US Visa Bulletin for January 2016 includes charts containing dates for filing visa applications and application final action dates. The 'dates for filing visa applications' chart specifies when intending immigrants can file an application for adjustment of status or an immigrant visa. The 'application final action dates' chart shows when an adjustment of status or immigrant visa application from overseas could be approved, and permanent residence actually granted.
Should US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) establish that there are excess immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, this will be specified on their website and applicants will be instructed to use the 'dates for filing visa applications' chart.
Otherwise, applicants will be directed to use the 'application final action dates' chart to establish when applicants can file an adjustment of status application. For January 2016, USCIS has already announced that employment-based (EB) applicants can only use the 'application final action dates' chart for the final approval of an immigrant petition.
Eligibility for an employment-based adjustment application
To qualify to file an employment-based adjustment application for January 2016, foreign nationals are required to have a priority date that is earlier than the date listed in the following chart for their preference category and country. Changes from December's bulletin are identified in green.
Application Final Action Dates
|EB||All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed||China (mainland born)||India||Mexico||Philippines|
|2nd||C||01FEB12 — no change||01FEB08 (was June07)||C||C|
|3rd||01OCT15 (was 01SEPT15)||01JUL12 (was 15APR12)||15MAY04 (was 22APR04)||01OCT15 (was 01SEPT15)||01NOV07 (was 01Aug07)|
|Other Workers||01OCT15 (was 01SEPT15)||01DEC06 (was 01AUG06)||15MAY04 (was 22APR04)||01OCT15 (was 01SEPT15)||01NOV07 (was 01Aug07)|
|Certain Religious Workers||U||U||U||U||U|
|5th Nonregional Center (C5 and T5)||C||08JAN14||C||C||C|
|5th Regional Center (I5 and R5)||U||U||C||C||C|
Indians benefit the most from changes
The most notable change in the 'application final action dates' chart can be found in the EB-2 India category, which has moved by eight months to February 1, 2008. The EB-2 China category did not move at all, staying at February 1, 2012. Only minimal movement of three weeks to two months occurred across other immigrant visa classification categories.
To view the entire DoS US Visa Bulletin for January 2016, click here.