Changes to the October 2015 Visa Bulletin: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers28 Sep 2015
1. The visa numbers in the October 2015 Visa Bulletin allowing for I-485 filings suddenly changed on September 25, 2015. What happened?
At this time, no one outside of the government knows for certain what happened. It appears that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may have had serious concerns about its ability to handle the initial volume of filings that could result from the cutoff dates in the original version of the visa bulletin (i.e. the version published on September 9, 2015). In order to control the anticipated influx of filings, the USCIS appears to have pressured the DOS to react aggressively and retrogress the visa numbers in certain heavily used categories.
2. What about the promised improvements from the executive action announcements?
The purpose of the new two-dates-per-category visa system that is being implemented as of October 2015 is to allow foreign nationals (FNs) to file their respective I-485s sooner, so that the USCIS will have sufficient time to process the cases well before visa numbers become available. That initiative is still in place.
What appears to have happened here is not a retreat from that initiative, but rather a volume-control issue. If that is the case, we are hopeful that the U.S. Department of State (DOS) may be able to continue to adjust dates in the coming months to assure that the USCIS can handle the increased volume of I-485 filings, while still keeping with the initiative to allow larger groups of people to file I-485s and be eligible to apply for employment authorization documents (EADs). The larger goal of granting FNs the freedom to change jobs and employers, and allow for job mobility has not changed.
3. I am confused; what should I do now? What will happen if the dates change again?
Best Practice: Hope for the best and be prepared.
In light of the sudden action by the government and the possibility of forward movement in the near future, keeping all the documents ready for all principal green card applicants and their families to be able to file the I-485 application is still the best practice. Even if there is a delay in filing eligibility, a properly prepared I-485 case likely will need only minor updates before filing, as opposed to those cases that would still need to gather and resolve documentation regarding birth and/or marriage certificates, status documentation, and any other issues. Regardless of when you are able to file, gathering and organizing all of this information / documentation, which will eventually be needed, will save time and money in the long run.
4. Should I file MY I-485 based on the original visa bulletin dates, even if the revised October 2015 Visa Bulletin does not permit it?
Ultimately, this is a personal decision. However, we do not recommend it at this time, as it seems likely that the USCIS will reject such filings. Regardless of your decision, though, we are recommending vigilance and preparation so that if / when the situation changes, you and your family will be ready to act.
5. In the summer of 2007, when a visa bulletin was released and then reissued with retrogressed dates, the Murthy Law Firm was proactive and explored the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the government. What will the Murthy Law Firm do this time?
In June 2007, the DOS released the July 2007 Visa Bulletin, making all employment-based categories “current.” On July 2, 2007 (i.e. after the July 2007 Visa Bulletin already went into effect), the DOS retrogressed the dates, effective immediately. When this occurred, the Murthy Law Firm joined the immigration community to aggressively fight the change. These efforts were successful, leading to the DOS to agree to abide by the original July 2007 Visa Bulletin dates.
We are working hard to have the same positive outcome with the October 2015 Visa Bulletin. However, the current situation is different from what occurred in the summer of 2007. Therefore, this may be a more difficult fight to win. Still, rest assured that the Murthy Law Firm is advocating for the immigrant community, in public and behind the scenes. Please stay tuned to MurthyDotCom for updates, as new information becomes available.
In the meantime, we urge stakeholders to take action. Contact the White House and representatives in Congress to express concern and disappointment about the confusing and arbitrary nature of the DOS and USCIS actions in this matter. Make sure that your voices are heard!
Sharing this message wherever possible can make a difference. The success of a democracy hinges on the ability and the right of the people to speak out against injustice and to hold elected leaders and government bureaucrats accountable – whether it is in the form of letters, messages, petitions, or even lawsuits. United we stand!
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