Changes the Way to File for Green Cards – Immigration Law Firm MA

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Immigration Laws

New Visa Bulletin for October Changes the Way to File for Green Cards!

For years, the United States Department of State has controlled when people can file for permanent residence (green cards) based on family-based and employment-based petitions. For everyone other than a spouse, parent or minor child of a U.S. Citizen, they must wait their turn before they can even file their green card application. These wait times can range from 1 month – 14 years or more.
 Imagine that the United States only has a certain number of green cards available each year to potential applicants. Being the spouse, minor child, or parent of a U.S. Citizen means that you never have to wait – you are considered an “immediate” relative and are eligible to apply for your green card “immediately” after the approval of your relative petition, or sometimes, even earlier. However, adult children, relatives of permanent residents (those with green cards), and siblings of U.S. Citizens are not considered as high a priority.

In those cases, Immigration has prioritized who they feel is the most important to reunite with their U.S. Citizen or permanent resident relative. These categories are:
 – First: Unmarried children over 21 of U.S. Citizens
 – Second, part A: Spouses and minor children of Permanent Residents
 – Second, part B: Unmarried children over 21 of Permanent Residents
 – Third: Married children of U.S. Citizens
 – Fourth: Brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens

The same can be said for employment-based applications. Immigration has prioritized these applications as well, in terms of who they believe are a priority:
 – First: Priority workers
 – Second: Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability
 – Third: Skilled workers, professionals, and other workers
 – Fourth: Special Immigrants
 – Fifth: Employment creation

The Visa Bulletin, published each month, lists the dates by which a person waiting their turn may be eligible to file for their green card. This helps people waiting to apply for permanent residence get a general idea of when they can apply and how long they may have to wait. Until today, a person waiting to apply for permanent residence would look at the chart for the current month, find their category, then look at the date published. If their relative or employer filed for them before that date, then they could move forward with their application for permanent residence.

However, starting today, Immigration has changed the way they are accepting all applications based on these wait times. There are now two charts that should be considered.

Start by looking at the (A) chart called Application Final Action Dates.
1.    You should start by finding your priority date. That is typically the date your relative or employer began the process of filing for you.
2.    Looking at the Visa Bulletin, you should find the right set of charts (family-sponsored or employment-based).
3.    Find the appropriate priority category (first, second, third, fourth, or fifth) in the chart.
4.    Check to make sure you are looking at the right country of birth (only China, India, Mexico and the Philippines have specific dates that are different than the rest of the world).
5.    If the date listed is “C” (meaning that the category is current and that it applies to everyone) or your priority date is before that date, then your case can be approved.
Then look at the (B) chart called Dates for Filing.

1.    Find the appropriate priority category (first, second, third, fourth, or fifth) in the chart.
2.    Check to make sure you are looking at the right country of birth (only China, India, Mexico and the Philippines have specific dates that are different than the rest of the world).
3.    If the date listed is “C” (meaning that the category is current and that everyone can apply) or your priority date is before that date, then your case can be filed.
The important difference is that, now the date when you can file can be drastically different than the date by which you can be approved. In some cases, you may be able to file a year early or more. For this month, this process is the same whether you are outside or inside the country, but that may change month to month.

For additional information on the impact of these changes to filing for permanent residence, or to have an immigration attorney review your particular case to see if you have been affected, please contact the Immigration Division at Shapiro Law Group, PC.

By Vivian Salib Crowell, Esq.

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