The State Department has released the May 2017 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.
There again will be small but consistent advances in the “Application Final Action Dates” as most of the family-based categories will advance between one week and two months. The State Department continues to expect higher demand in all of the family-based categories over the coming months, and this appears to be already affecting the fourth preference (F4) as the priority date will advance only for nationals of India, Mexico, and the Philippines.
In the “Application Final Action Dates” for the employment-based categories, the EB-1 category remains current for all countries, but the State Department expects to establish a cut-off date in the this category for nationals of India and China very soon, possibly in June.
There will be some advancement in the other categories of between one day (EB-3 India) and three months (EB-3 Philippines), although EB-2 India will remain at June 22, 2008. The priority date in EB-3 for China will advance to October 1, 2014, continuing the phenomenon of EB-3 being ahead of EB-2. The State Department still expects this to result in EB-2 to EB-3 downgrades by many Chinese nationals, which will eventually bring the priority dates in those categories into alignment.
The EB-3 “worldwide” priority date will advance to March 15, 2017, and the State Department expects this category to continue advancing about one month at a time.
On the bright side, the “Dates for Filing” for both family- and employment-based categories will advance several months, which is a welcome change. In the family-based categories, all dates will advance with the exception of F-1 worldwide and F3 Mexico, with F-1 Philippines seeing the largest jump at 16 months.
In the employment-based categories, the dates for filing remain current in the EB-1 category for all countries and in all categories except for nationals of China, India, and the Philippines. For nationals of those countries, there will be some significant advances highlighted by a 16 month jump in EB-3 China. However, EB-2 India will retrogress by 10 weeks to February 1, 2009.
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 or the “Application Final Action Dates” chart in the visa bulletin. USCIS has not yet determined which chart may be used for adjustment of status filings in May 2017. The agency will post that information on its website.
Finally, the May visa bulletin implements the guidance provided in the April visa bulletin regarding the scheduled expiration of the non-minister special immigrant program, which is set to expire on April 27, 2017. Unless Congress acts to extend this category, it will become “unavailable” for final action as of that date and no visas may be issued and no adjustment of status applications may be approved after April 27. Visas issued before April 27 will be valid only until that date, and all individuals seeking admission into the United States with those visas must do so before midnight on April 27, 2017. The May 2017 visa bulletin accordingly lists this category as “unavailable.” If Congress acts to extend this program, the Final Action Date would immediately become “current” for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, which would have a cutoff date of July 15, 2015.
In the past, we were reasonably confident that Congress would ultimately extend this program as part of larger budget legislation either before or shortly after the expiration, but considering the current administration’s desire to limit immigration (both legal and illegal), we are not as confident, especially if there is a protracted “budget fight” between the administration and Congress. There is currently very little news concerning an extension.
You can view the visa bulletin in its entirety below. Please contact us with any questions.
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