This week, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) published its October Visa Bulletin, which showed significant advances in certain backlogged green card categories, and yesterday U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed that it will use the “Dates for Filing” dates for the month of October, which will allow certain applicants to submit their requests for green cards earlier in the process.
The Dates for Filing option for the green card process will permit applicants to obtain interim benefits, including work authorization and travel documents, and allows them to accept a position with a new employer at an earlier stage in the process.
In the employment-based visa categories, the announcement will provide the most significant benefit to applicants born in China and India, who are subject to the longest priority date backlogs and will now be permitted to file a green card application earlier.
What is the Visa Bulletin?
The Visa Bulletin is a monthly DOS publication that serves as a reference for foreign nationals who are in the employment-based green card process. The Visa Bulletin provides information regarding the categories of employment-based green card filings in which demand has exceeded the legal allocations for the fiscal year and are therefore subject to priority date backlogs. The Visa Bulletin is updated each month according to visa availability.
What is the significant change in the October Visa Bulletin?
In the October Visa Bulletin, the DOS provides two separate charts of cutoff dates for green card applicants:
- the “Final Action Date,” which corresponds to the longstanding Visa Bulletin priority date chart
- the “Dates for Filing,” under which applicants can file an application for a green card (also called an application for adjustment of status)
See the DOS Visa Bulletin for October here.
Each month, USCIS has the option to permit applicants to file the final step in their green card applications under either the Final Action Date or the more favorable Dates for Filing. For October, USCIS has designated the Dates for Filing. See the announcement here.
What are the benefits of the early filing provision?
Benefits of the new filing provision include the following:
- Additional work authorization and travel documents: An individual who submits an application for adjustment of status application can concurrently request an employment authorization document (EAD) and advance parole (AP) travel document, which provides the applicant with additional flexibility in employment and international travel.
- Work authorization for spouses: Family members can submit an application for adjustment of status and request EAD and AP documents for themselves.
- Increased worker mobility to new employment: Once the adjustment of status application has been pending for six months, the individual is no longer tied to the sponsoring employer and becomes mobile in the labor market. After six months, most adjustment of status applicants can change employers as long as the new position is “same or similar” to the position for which the green card application was filed.
When can applicants file for adjustment of status under the new October Visa Bulletin dates?
Applicants who are eligible to file for adjustment of status based on the new filing date in the October Visa Bulletin may file their applications beginning on October 1, 2020.
We will work with clients to identify employees who will be eligible to file under the new filing dates and prepare their applications for submission during the month of October.
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