How Changes in the Visa Bulletin Impact When Family-Based Applicants Can Apply for Adjustment of Status

Effective October 1, 2015, there is a new procedure for determining when beneficiaries of family-based preference petitions can file applications for “Adjustment of Status” with USCIS. The new procedure will enable some beneficiaries to file for adjustment earlier than current procedures allow. However, the timing for approval of these adjustment applications will remain the same.

This new procedure affects beneficiaries in the United States who plan to obtain Permanent Residency through “Adjustment of Status” in the United States rather than through the “Immigrant Visa Process” that is completed at US Embassies and Consulates abroad.

These beneficiaries include:

  • (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters 21 and over of US Citizens;
  • (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents;
  • (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters 21 and over of Permanent Residents;
  • (F3) Married Sons and Daughters 21 and over of US Citizens; and
  • (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult US Citizens.

This new procedure will NOT affect adjustment of status for Spouses of US Citizens, Unmarried Children under the age of 21 of US Citizens, or Parents of US Citizens.

Until now, Beneficiaries in the United States were allowed to file applications for adjustment of status only if an immigrant visa number was actually available for them. There was 1 chart in the US Department of State’s monthly “Visa Bulletin” that showed which family-based immigrant visa numbers where available.

Under the new procedure, Beneficiaries in the United States may be allowed to file for adjustment of status BEFORE an immigrant visa number is available. There is now a 2nd chart in the US Department of State’s monthly “Visa Bulletin” called “Dates for Filing Family-Sponsored Visa Applications”. Each month Paragraph 4.B. of the Visa Bulletin will indicate whether USCIS is allowing this 2nd chart to be used for filing applications for adjustment of status.

For October 2015, USCIS is allowing adjustment applications to be filed early, according to the 2nd chart in 4.B. Many of those eligible to file in October will be filing more than a year before it appears that a visa number will be available to them.

Filing for adjustment of status provides some level of protection should the beneficiary have difficulty maintaining their underlying status (H-1B worker, student, etc.) In addition, adjustment applicants can apply for employment authorization, which gives them the freedom to accept employment with any U.S. employer.   Adjustment applicants can also apply for Advance Parole, which can be an easier way to reenter the US after a trip abroad rather than through their underlying status. For most beneficiaries, the earlier they can file for adjustment of status, the better.