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New Rule Allows Some Greencard Applicants to File Their Applications Years Early

Berin Romagnolo September 11, 2015

On September 9, 2015, the Department of State (DOS) and US Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) jointly announced a new procedure whereby many family and employment based greencard applicants can file their applications earlier than their priority dates, sometimes years earlier.  This has many benefits to families, individuals, entrepreneurs, and employers.  Employees will be able to obtain and retain continuous employment-authorization much earlier and easier, benefiting both the individuals and the employers who need them.  Individuals will have much more flexibility in their employment choices, as they will have authorization to change jobs freely.  This also benefits foreign entrepreneurs, since the greencard applicants will receive work authorization allowing them to open their own businesses and be self-employed.  Spouses will obtain work authorization much earlier, allowing families who need two incomes to stay united in the US.

But this rule only applies to some categories of greencard applicants, and fluctuates monthly.  Every month, the DOS publishes its Visa Bulletin listing when each greencard category is open for new applications.  The monthly bulletin will now include a new chart for each greencard category.  There will be a “Final Action Date“ chart which is the same as the priority date chart that has always been included in the monthly bulletins.  And now there will also be a “Dates of Filing Applications” chart (also called the “Filing Date Chart”), which will show greencard filing dates that may be years earlier than the Final Action Date chart.  Each month’s visa bulletin will explicitly say when applicants can use the earlier dates listed in the Filing Date Chart.  For example, the October Visa Bulletin says that all greencard applicants can use the earlier Filing Date Chart.  

This procedure applies differently if the applicant is applying through Consular Processing (which is the process where you apply for a greencard through a US Consulate or Embassy outside the US instead of adjusting your status while staying in the US).    Consular processing applicants can file when the Filing Date Chart says they can, but their applications cannot be processed until the later date listed on the Final Action Date chart. 

Applicants will be allowed to use the earlier Filing Date Chart when USCIS determines that there are more greencards available for the fiscal year than shown by the Final Action Date chart.  This is expediting many greencard categories.  For example, this rule will eliminate almost 6 years of greencard backlog for the EB-2 India greencard category in October.  As explained above, this has great benefits for all parties involved. 

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Berin S. Romagnolo.

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