The new visa bulletins – when can you file your green card application?

By Atty. Aurora Vega-Buzon
Published: January 21, 2016 | No Comments

ONE of President Obama’s immigration executive actions announced in November 2014 is to advance the filing of adjustment of status/green card applications for individuals who have approved employment-based immigrant petitions. Termed as “visa modernization”, Homeland Security Secretary Johnson directed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work with the Department of State (DOS) to “improve the system for determining when immigrant visas are available to applicants during the fiscal year”. Thus, beginning October 2015, the Department of State has issued two different charts for each visa preference category for both family-based and employment-based petitions: Application Final Action Dates – dates when visas may actually be issued; and Dates for Filing Visa Applications – earliest dates when adjustment/green card applicants may apply but case will be approved only when the applicant’s priority date is current under the Final Action Date chart. The priority date is when the immigrant petition was filed on your behalf by a family member or employer; or when a labor certification was filed on your behalf. Allowing adjustment/green card applicants to use the Filing Date chart means they can file their adjustment applications earlier, and get employment authorizations faster.

DOS posts the Visa Bulletin at least two weeks before the month it will take effect. Within a week after the Visa Bulletins are posted, USCIS will determine which chart will be used for filing adjustment/green card applications. Generally, we use the Application Final Action Dates chart when filing an adjustment/green card application with the USCIS. However, if USCIS determines there are more visas available for that month, it will direct the use of the Filing Dates chart. For February 2016 filings, USCIS has directed to use the Dates for Filing chart for family-based adjustment applications; and the Final Action Dates chart for employment-based adjustments.

Filing Chart

If you have an approved family-based or employment-based petition, consult an immigration attorney to find out whether you are eligible to file your adjustment/green card application.


Atty. Aurora Vega-Buzon is a partner in Chua Tinsay & Vega, A Professional Legal Corporation (CTV) – a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego and Philippines. The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (619) 955-6277; (415) 495-8088; auvega@ctvattys.com

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