On Friday, September 25, 2015, just days away from thousands of foreign nationals finally being able to file their applications for permanent residence after waiting years for the opportunity to do so, the U.S. Department of State (DOS), under pressure from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who feared being overwhelmed with applications, published a revised Visa Bulletin for October, 2015, which rolled back the “Dates for Filing” for several visa categories. Significantly, the EB-2 India dates were rolled back two years from July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2009; EB-2 China dates go backwards by 16 months, and EB-3 Philippines rolls back by five years.
Foreign national beneficiaries, and their qualifying derivative family members, have been preparing to file under the newly formatted Visa Bulletin ever since it was announced with much fanfare by the DOS on September 9, 2015. They have been paying attorney fees, medical exam fees, photograph fees, postage and courier fees, and gathering funds for the immigration service filing fees. In other words, acting on the reliance of the DOS, they have expended millions of dollars in anticipation of filing their permanent residence applications beginning October 1. For the DOS to make this change will likely cause financial damage to these would-be permanent resident applicants, not to mention emotional hardship and distress.
For these reasons, there has been a tremendous amount of pressure exerted upon the DOS and USCIS from the public, other immigration advocacy groups such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and, soon to be, from the courts, as a class action suit was filed in a U.S. District Court yesterday.
While there has been no definitive word as to what will happen on October 1, SGR Immigration continues to move forward and get ready for filing the applications of our clients who are eligible under the original October Visa Bulletin. It is highly likely that this will be sorted out soon, and that USCIS will accept applications in the month of October – or at the very least that some sort of compromise is worked out to space the filings over the next few months. We will continue to provide updates as developments occur.
To learn more, or if you have any questions about the issues discussed in this alert, please contact your immigration counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.