How to Determine Priority Dates Using the Visa Bulletin and USCIS website
Every month, thousands of beneficiaries of an approved I-130 or I-140 petition go to the Visa Bulletin at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin.html to see if their priority date is current that month. Prior to 2016, the process was pretty straightforward: 1) Check the priority date as stated on your approved I-130 or I-140 2) Check your preference category against your country of chargeability 3) If your priority date is after the date listed, then your priority date is current and you can either adjust your status or start with NVC processing Example: John was born in Australia and his mother filed an I-130 petition which was approved. His priority date is June 1, 2005. Under the F3 family preference category for non-chargeability citizens, the priority date was December 1, 2004. His priority date is current and he can apply for his green card. The Visa Bulletin now has two charts for both family and employment-based cases: A) Application Final Action Dates for Family-Sponsored Preference Cases; and B) Dates for Filing Family-Sponsored Visa Applications. So which chart do beneficiaries use to determine whether their priority date is current? The answer is that it depends on whether you are in the United States and eligible to adjust your status, or whether you intend to process your application through the National Visa Center and U.S. Consulate. If you are processing through NVC, you always rely on Chart B (“Dates for Filing”). If you are adjusting your status, you have to go to USCIS (www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo) to determine which chart it will be using that month. Example: John looks at the Visa Bulletin and it shows that the priority date for his category under Chart A is December 1, 2004. However, Chart B shows a priority date of August 1, 2005. Thus, he can apply for his green card through the consulate right away. However, if he wants to adjust his status, he will have to check USCIS’s website to see if it is using Chart A or Chart B for this month. Upon checking, he learns that USCIS is using Chart A for that month. Thus, his priority date is not current for adjustment of status purposes. Maximilian Law Inc. is an immigration law firm experienced with family and employment-based green card applications.