With the issuance of the October 2015 Visa Bulletin, the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) has drastically changed the visa filing timelines for certain many employment-based immigrant visa applications.
The upcoming October Visa Bulletin creates a two-tier system of visa priority dates, effectively allowing more individuals (especially individuals from over-subscribed countries like India and China) to file employment-based I-485 Adjustment of Status applications sooner than originally expected. The new two-tier system now includes (1) “Dates for Filing Applications,” or the dates when applicants may first file an application for Adjustment of Status, and (2) “Application Final Action Dates,” or the dates when the actual immigrant visas or “green cards” will likely be issued.
To be clear, the immediate effect of the revisions to the Visa Bulletin will only be to allow certain individuals to file certain I-485 applications sooner than they otherwise could-it will not necessarily mean that they will be issued an immigrant visa or “green card” any faster. That said, by virtue of being able to file for Adjustment of Status sooner than before, such individuals will become eligible to apply for certain benefits–such as Employment Authorization Documents (“EAD”) for work authorization and Advance Parole authorization for foreign travel– which are available to Adjustment of Status applicants. These will be welcome benefits especially to those individuals from India and China who have long been plagued by growing immigrant visa backlogs. More information on the changes to the Visa Bulletin can be found here.
What this means to employers-Certain foreign national employees may be eligible to apply for a “green card” sooner than before, thus providing them with the opportunity for alternate work authorization through an EAD card. This may reduce the need for renewals of certain temporary visa filings such as H-1B extensions, but it will also mean that foreign national employees may be able to move about more freely in the marketplace due to the job portability provisions allowed under the immigration laws.
If you have any questions about the changes to the Department of State Visa Bulletin or any other employment-based immigration issue, please contact Diane E. Metzger.