The State Department has released the January 2016 Visa Bulletin listing the priority dates eligible for “Application Final Action,” i.e. when an I-485 adjustment of status (AOS) application may be approved or an immigrant visa (IV) issued, and the priority dates eligible for “Filing Applications,” i.e. when an AOS or IV application may be filed.
In January, the “Application Final Action Dates” will continue marching forward in most categories. In the family-based preference categories, with the exception of the F2B and F4 categories for nationals of Mexico, the “Application Final Action Dates” again will advance at least a few weeks in each category, with the largest advancement being six months (January 1, 2003 to June 1, 2003) in the first preference (F1) for nationals of the Philippines.
Many of the “Dates for Filing” in the family-based categories will also move forward in January, in most cases by three to five months, although F2B, F3, and F4 for nationals of Mexico and the Philippines will not advance. There is a bright spot for spouses and minor children of Lawful Permanent Residents (F2A). There, the date for filing will advance over three months to June 15, 2015, as that category moves ever closer to becoming current.
As has been typical, the picture is not as rosy in the employment-based preference categories. There will be some movement in the “Application Final Action Dates,” highlighted by an eight-month jump to February 1, 2008, in EB-2 for nationals of India. This comes on the heels of a 10-month advance in the December 2015 Visa Bulletin.
The EB-3 category again will advance across the board from a few weeks to up to four months, and the rather unusual situation for nationals of China will continue as the EB-3 final action date will move ahead nearly three months to July 1, 2012, while the EB-2 final action date remains at February 1, 2012. This will undoubtedly cause many Chinese nationals to continue filing new I-140 petitions to “downgrade” to the EB-3 category, but this has been the case for several months and there seems to be little effect on the priority dates so far.
Finally, whatever good news there is in the “final action dates” for nationals of India and China is diminished as the “Dates for Filing” for those countries remains at a standstill, as does EB-3 for the Philippines. The EB-3 “date for filing” for all other countries will advance to January 1, 2016, essentially making that category current.
As a reminder, the “Dates for Filing Applications” are valid only for consular processing immigrant visa applications. USCIS will make a separate determination whether to allow the filing of AOS applications under the “Dates for Filing” chart in the visa bulletin. If so, USCIS will post the current “Dates for Filing Applications” charts on its website. At the time of this post, USCIS has not made any determination with regard to the January 2016 Visa Bulletin.
The January Visa Bulletin also provides guidance regarding the scheduled expiration of two categories: the non-minister special immigrant program, which expired on December 11, 2015, and the Employment Fifth Preference Categories (I5 and R5), which expired on December 10, 2015. Those categories are “unavailable” for final action as of those dates and continuing into January 2016, unless Congress acts to extend those programs.
We expect that Congress will ultimately extend these programs as part of larger budget legislation before the Christmas break, but there will likely be significant changes to the EB-5 program. Whenever the programs are extended, the priority dates would immediately become “current” for January for all countries except for China EB-5, which will have a January 8, 2014, priority date.
You can view the visa bulletin in its entirety below. Please contact us with any questions.
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