DOS Revises New Visa Bulletin for October 2015 – Many Employment Based Beneficiaries Negatively Impacted

As previously reported, on September 9, 2015, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced an important change to the visa processing system in the United States. Under the new scheme, the the agencies announced that beginning in October 2015 the monthly DOS Visa Bulletin would contain two (2) separate charts for each of the Employment Based and Family Based Visa Preference categories. The new Visa Bulletin will list a chart of Priority Dates for Immigrant Visa Petitions that are available for issuance and a second chart of Priority Dates for Immigrant Visa Petitions that are available for filing in advance of the availability of the visas.

On September 9, 2015, the DOS published the Visa Bulletin for October 2015 containing the new framework. Under the new system, beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions in countries with lengthy backlogs were able to file potentially years in advance of visa availability. In anticipation of their eligibility for filing adjustment of status applications beginning on October 1, 2015, many foreign national beneficiaries with priority dates listed as "available for filing" began preparing applications for adjustment of status and immigrant visas.

Unfortunately, on September 25, 2015, the DOS issued an updated and revised Visa Bulletin for October 2015 that superseded the Visa Bulletin issued on September 9, 2015. The revised Visa Bulletin rolls back the dates for filing in several of the employment and family based preference categories.

Specifically, Beneficiaries in the Employment Based Second Preference (EB-2) category for China and India and Employment Based Third Preference (EB-3) category for Philippines were rolled back, limiting the number of nationals from these countries who are eligible to apply for adjustment of status or immigrant visa. Beneficiaries of Family Based Immigrant Visa Petitions in the First (F1) and Third (F3) Preference categories for Mexico were also adversely affected.

On September 28, 2015, a class of employment based beneficiaries negatively impacted by the revisions to the October 2015 Visa Bulletin filed a class action suit in the Western District of Washington. Therein, the plaintiffs requested that the Court strike down the September 25, 2015 version of the October 2015 Visa Bulletin and compel USCIS to accept adjustment of status applications pursuant to the Visa Bulletin published on September 9, 2015. The action is currently pending before the Court.

For more information and guidance on the new and revised visa bulletins and early filing opportunities, please contact Kolko & Associates, P.C.