October 2015 Visa Bulletin Revised: Bad News and Unacceptable Turn of Events

Excitement over the October 2015 Visa Bulletin turned to disappointment, frustration, and anger on September 25, 2015, when the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued a revised version of the visa bulletin, superseding the original version. The cutoff dates for filings in the revised October 2015 Visa Bulletin strip away the opportunity for an October 2015 adjustment-of-status (form I-485) filing for many.

Dual Chart System

The September 9, 2015 version of the October 2015 Visa Bulletin announced the inclusion of two charts each month in the employment-based (EB) and family-based (FB) categories. Under this dual chart system, one chart reflects application final action dates (FA) and the other reflects dates of filing (DF). In simple terms, for the I-485, the FA chart shows cutoff dates for cases eligible to be approved, while the DF chart sets out more favorable cutoff dates that, in designated months, determine when an I-485 may be filed.

Initial October 2015 Visa Bulletin with Favorable News

The original version of the October 2015 Visa Bulletin contained favorable cutoff dates in the DF charts for some key backlogged categories. In particular, the heavily backlogged employment-based, second preference (EB2) category for people born in India reflected a DF cutoff date of July 1, 2011. EB2 India had never reached this cutoff date in the past. Significant numbers of foreign nationals were elated that, after years of waiting, they finally would be able to file their I-485 applications in October 2015. Similar favorable DF cutoff dates appeared for other categories, including the employment-based, third preference category for the Philippines.

Revised October 2015 Visa Bulletin: Retrogressed Employment-Based Filing Dates

On September 25th, the DOS sent shockwaves through the immigration community by issuing a revised October 2015 Visa Bulletin that harshly rolled back a number of cutoff dates in the DF charts. EB2 India was hit hard, with a new DF cutoff date of July 1, 2009. This revised date is two years behind the July 1, 2011 date announced in the initial October 2015 Visa Bulletin. EB3 for the Philippines was also treated harshly, suffering a five-year revision in the DF date, to January 1, 2010. EB2 China was moved back about seventeen months, to January 1, 2013.

Other Family-Based Retrogression in Revised Visa Bulletin

The only alterations to the FB categories apply to the first and third preferences (FB1 and FB3) for Mexico. FB1 Mexico is nudged a few months backwards, to April 1, 1995. FB3 Mexico retrogresses nearly a year-and-a-half, to May 1, 1995.

No Real Explanation Provided

The exact details behind the issuance of a revised visa bulletin have not yet been revealed. The stated reason given by the DOS is that, after consultation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the cutoff dates were “adjusted to better reflect a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process.” This appears to be saying that the more conservative dates are more appropriate cutoff points for allowing I-485 filings.

It is difficult to understand why an appropriate date was not established from the onset. The September 9th version of the October 2015 Visa Bulletin had cutoff dates that were established after input from the DHS. And, as soon as this initial version of the visa bulletin was released, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – which is part of the DHS – published updated information regarding the new visa bulletin system on its website. It certainly appears that the USCIS was fully aware of the coming changes well before the original version of the visa bulletin was released. Yet, the revised visa bulletin cutoff dates were apparently made at the behest of the USCIS.

Conclusion: Unacceptable Course of Events

The initial October 2015 Visa Bulletin changes were intended to improve the immigration system and benefit individuals undergoing the permanent residence (or, “green card”) process. While the two-chart system is an improvement, the manner in which the rollout of this system was handled is unacceptable. Thousands of foreign nationals have been seriously harmed by the sudden, callus changes implemented in the revised version of the October 2015 Visa Bulletin.

The Murthy Law Firm joins stakeholders across the nation in the fight to have the original cutoff dates reinstated for October. For the time being, however, the government has not shown any willingness to do so. Public pressure is still needed to ensure the government recognizes the outrage and pain caused by this action. Subscribe to the free MurthyBulletin for future updates on this ongoing dilemma.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.