Immigration Tensions High as Dept. of State Extends Waiting Period on Many Visas

Authored by Diane E. Metzger

Oct 02, 2015

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has issued a “revised” October 2015 Visa Bulletin extending the waiting period by months if not years for many immigrants waiting to apply for employment-based and family-based immigrant visas.

While the application cutoff dates for immigration tensions visas advance and retrogress regularly (indeed, on a monthly basis), big changes in the visa bulletin such as these are not common. With the issuance of the original October visa bulletin on Sept. 9, the DOS drastically changed and shortened the visa filing timelines, creating a huge buzz in the immigration world as the hopes of thousands of immigrants were raised.

As expected, the response to this “revised” October visa bulletin has been harsh. After the publication of the original Sept. 9 visa bulletin, employers and employees alike began preparations to submit Adjustment of Status applications during October to allow key employees to apply for their green cards.

In reliance on the original visa bulletin, employees have obtained costly medical exams, and employers have incurred legal fees in preparing visa applications which will now gather dust as they can no longer be filed. When these applications will be able to be filed is anyone’s guess; the answer requires either a response from the DOS or a crystal ball.

The Response

While immigration attorneys have undertaken the difficult task of informing hopeful immigrants that now they will NOT be able to apply for a green card, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has been in contact with government officials urging that the DOS and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) honor the priority dates published in the original October Visa Bulletin and allow individuals with priority dates that are current under the original visa bulletin to file their adjustment of status applications.

Meanwhile, a class-action lawsuit challenging the reversal of the October visa bulletin dates has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Case No. 2:15-cv-01543). The suit seeks to enjoin the government from relying on the revised visa bulletin and to force USCIS to accept Adjustment of Status applications based on the priority dates originally published in the Sept. 9 visa bulletin.

As various stakeholders anxiously await the outcome of these actions, the only certainty afforded to high-skilled employees seeking to obtain an employment-based green card is that their wait will yet continue.

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.

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