U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed it will continue to accept adjustment-of-status applications based on filing cut-off dates instead of final action cut-off dates. This policy has been in effect since the Department of State’s September 2018 Visa Bulletin, and the January 2019 Visa Bulletin showed weeks or months of forward progress toward backlogged priority dates in multiple categories.
EB-1 categories in all areas, including China and India, showed progress of up to three months or more, while EB-5 in Vietnam and Other Workers for China progressed one month. EB-2s for China progressed forward two weeks, and EB-3s for Philippines, Other Workers for Philippines, and EB-5s for China each progressed one week.
Many applicants and their dependent family members physically residing in the United States whose priority dates are significantly backlogged continue to benefit from this policy to be able to receive employment authorization documents and advance parole documents. They may also potentially become eligible sooner for immigrant visa portability to change jobs while their employment-based adjustment of status is pending.
Although USCIS will continue to accept adjustment of status applications under the typically earlier filing cut-off dates, the applicant’s priority date must be current under the “final action cut-off date” before USCIS can finally approve the application.
Other priority dates remain Current or backlogged with little to no movement.
The changes in the Final Action Cut-Off Dates from the December 2018 to the January 2019 Visa Bulletin include:
- EB-1: All Chargeability Areas (except China and India)—Forward progress of three months to October 1, 2017
- EB-1: China and India—Forward progress of three months and two weeks, to December 15, 2016
- EB-2: China—Forward progress of two weeks to August 1, 2015
- EB-3: Philippines—Forward progress of one week to June 22, 2017
- Other Workers: China—Forward progress of one month to July 1, 2007
- Other Workers: Philippines—Forward progress of one week to June 22, 2017
- EB-5: China—Forward progress of one week to September 1, 2014
- EB-5: Vietnam—Forward progress of one month to June 1, 2016
In both the EB-5 Regional Center and the EB-5 Non-Regional Center categories, the “Filing Cut-Off Dates” are Current for applicants born in all countries except for mainland China, which is backlogged to October 1, 2014, allowing for filing of adjustment-of-status applications for those with approved I-526 petitions who are residing in the United States.
In the EB-5 Non-Regional Center category, the “Final Action Dates” are current for all countries except China and Vietnam, which continue to be backlogged but with slight forward movement: currently backlogged at September 1, 2014, for China, and June 1, 2016, for Vietnam. However, the “Final Action Dates” for the EB-5 Regional Center category for all countries are “Unavailable” and immigrant visas cannot be issued right now because of the partial government shutdown discussed in the next article.
Applicants whose priority dates are backlogged should review the filing cut-off dates in the bulletin to determine if they may be eligible to file during the month of January. Applicants who will become eligible to file immigrant visa applications in January should initiate applications now with their Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers attorney to plan for the earliest possible filing date.