January 2020 Visa Bulletin

by Alexander J. Segal on Jan. 23, 2020

Immigration Immigration  Deportation Immigration  Visa 

Summary: The U.S. Department of State (DOS) published its monthly immigrant visa bulletin for January 2020 on December 9, 2019.

immigration attorney nycIntroduction

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) published its monthly immigrant visa bulletin for January 2020 on December 9, 2019 [PDF version]. The Visa Bulletin for January 2020 contains information on when beneficiaries of approved family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visa preference petitions will be eligible for immigrant visas based on their priority dates. On December 20, 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determined that beneficiaries of approved immigrant visa petitions in both the family-sponsored and employment-based preferences must use the more favorable “dates for filing” charts from the Visa Bulletin for January 2020 to determine if they are eligible to apply for adjustment of status during the month (with limited exceptions that we will discuss below) [PDF version].

We will review the Visa Bulletin for January 2020 and its particular application to those planning to apply for adjustment of status in this article. We discuss using the immigrant visa bulletin in a separate post [see article]. We also have articles on the difference between the visa bulletin's charts for final action dates and filing dates [see blog] and a compendium of our past articles on monthly visa bulletins [see index].

Family-Sponsored Cases

The USCIS determined that beneficiaries of approved family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions in the F1, F2B, F3, and F4 preferences must use the dates for filing charts from the Visa Bulletin for January 2020 to determine eligibility for adjustment of status during the month. Beneficiaries of approved petitions in the F2A preference must use the final action dates. As we will see, this decision favors beneficiaries of F2A preference petitions.

As an initial matter, the beneficiary of an approved preference petition must be otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status — in accordance with section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and its implementing regulations — to seek adjustment from within the United States. Individuals who do not meet the general adjustment criteria must instead apply for a visa abroad at the appropriate U.S. consulate.

The beneficiary of an approved family-sponsored preference petition who is otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status must compare his or her priority date to the applicable filing date (or in the case of F2A — final action date) cutoff for his or her preference category and chargeability area (country). If the applicant's priority date is before the applicable filing or final action date cutoff on the visa bulletin, he or she may apply for adjustment of status in January 2020. The priority date in family-sponsored cases is generally the date on which the immigrant visa petition was properly filed with the USCIS on the beneficiary's behalf.

The final action dates for F2A cases [see here].

“C” stands for “current” on the visa bulletin. Because the final action date for the F2A preference in all chargeability areas is current for January 2020, the beneficiary of an approved petition in this preference may apply for adjustment in January 2020 regardless of his or her priority date — provided that he or she is otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status.

The dates for filing for non-F2A cases [see here].

For reference purposes only, the filing date for F2A cases is November 1, 2019, in all chargeability areas. The filing date is worth monitoring since the F2A final action date is unlikely to remain current in perpetuity. However, the F2A filing date remains close enough to being current that there is almost no daylight between it and the slightly more favorable final action date.

The final action dates for all family-sponsored cases [see here].

Adjustment applicants outside of the F2A preference need not concern themselves with the final action dates in January 2020. The final action dates do represent for DOS the dates on which a visa may actually be granted. The final action dates may also give those seeking immigrant visas through consular processing abroad an idea of when their applications may proceed.

Employment-Based Cases

The USCIS determined that most beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions must use the dates for filing charts from the Visa Bulletin for January 2020 to determine eligibility for adjustment of status during the month. Certain third preference and other workers cases must instead use the final action dates. However, like the F2A exception in the family-sponsored cases (see above), these exceptions work to the benefit of applicants.

As an initial matter, the beneficiary of an approved preference petition must be otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status — in accordance with section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and its implementing regulations — to seek adjustment from within the United States. Individuals who do not meet the general adjustment criteria must instead apply for a visa abroad at the appropriate U.S. consulate.

The beneficiary of an approved employment-based preference petition who is otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status must compare his or her priority date to the applicable filing date cutoff (or in the case of certain E3 and other workers cases — final action date cutoff) for his or her preference category and chargeability area (country). If the applicant's priority date is before the applicable filing or final action date cutoff on the visa bulletin, he or she may apply for adjustment of status in January 2020. The priority date in the employment-based petition context usually depends on whether labor certification was a petition prerequisite. In cases where labor certification was required, the beneficiary's priority date is generally the date on which the labor certification application was accepted for processing by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In cases where labor certification was not required, the priority date will generally be the date on which the petition was properly filed with the USCIS on the beneficiary's behalf.

The final action dates for EB3 and Other Workers cases [see here].

Beneficiaries of approved E3 and Other Workers petitions who are not from China, India, or the Philippines must use the final action dates from the Visa Bulletin for January 2020 to determine whether they are eligible to apply for adjustment of status during the month. Beneficiaries of petitions in these categories from China, India, or the Philippines must use the dates for filing, which you will find in the next chart. Because the applicable final action dates are current, beneficiaries of E3 and Other Workers petitions who are not from China, India, or the Philippines may apply for adjustment in January 2020 regardless of their priority dates, provided that they are otherwise eligible for adjustment.

For reference purposes, the following are the final action dates for E3 China, India, and the Philippines:

- China: March 1, 2017
- India: July 1, 2009
- Philippines: January 1, 2019

For reference purposes, the following are the final action dates for Other Workers China, India, and the Philippines:

- China: August 1, 2008
- India: February 1, 2010
- Philippines: January 1, 2019

Although adjustment applicants from China, India, and the Philippines must use the dates for filing for adjustment purposes in January 2020, the final action dates are worth monitoring for subsequent months where that will not be the case.

The dates for filing for all employment-based cases except Worldwide, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Vietnam E3 and Other Workers cases [see here].

With the exception of the six cases noted in the previous section, all employment-based beneficiaries must rely on the dates for filing for adjustment purposes in January 2020. The beneficiary of an approved petition in a category for which the filing date is current may apply for adjustment regardless of his or her priority date, provided that he or she is otherwise eligible for adjustment.

For reference purposes only, below are the E3 filing dates not listed here for chargeability areas that must instead use the final action dates:

- Worldwide: January 1, 2019
- El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: January 1, 2019
- Mexico: January 1, 2019

For reference purposes only, below are the Other Workers filing dates not listed here for chargeability areas that must instead use the final action dates:

- Worldwide: January 1, 2019
- El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: January 1, 2019
- Mexico: January 1, 2019

Because the final action dates in these categories are current, the USCIS's decision to require applicants in these categories to consult the final action dates rather than the filing dates works to their benefit. The filing dates are worth monitoring, however, since the USCIS may determine that they must be consulted in future months.

The final action dates for employment-based cases [see here].

Adjustment applicants outside of F3/Other Workers China, India, and Philippines do not need to refer to the final action dates for the employment-based preferences in January 2020. The final action dates do represent for DOS the dates on which a visa may actually be granted. The final action dates may also give those seeking immigrant visas through consular processing abroad an idea of when their applications may proceed.

Projected Visa Availability in the Coming Months

The DOS provided projections for visa ability in the coming months in the Visa Bulletin. The projections are for potential forward movement in the final action dates.

Potential monthly movement in family-sponsored categories:

- Worldwide F1: Up to six weeks
- Worldwide F2A: Final action date established
- Worldwide F2B: Up to three weeks
- Worldwide F3: One to three weeks
- Worldwide F4: Once final action date retrogession occurs, that date is likely to be held for a period of time

Potential monthly movement in the Employment First category:

- Worldwide: Rapid forward movement expected, possibly becoming current within three weeks of December 9, 2019
- China: Up to three weeks
- India: Little if any forward movement expected

Potential monthly movement in the Employment Second category:

- Worldwide: A final action date will likely be imposed at some point in the second half of FY 2020
- China: Up to one month
- India: Up to one week

Potential monthly movement in the Employment Third category:

- Worldwide: Final action date will likely be imposed no later than March
- China: Up to six weeks
- India: Up to three weeks
- Mexico: Will remain at the worldwide date
- Philippines: Up to one month

Potential monthly movement in the Employment Third — Other Workers category:

- Worldwide: Final action date likely to be established no later than March

Potential monthly movement in the Employment Fourth category:

- Most countries: Will remain current
- El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: Little if any movement expected through May
- India: Final action date will likely be imposed no later than July
- Mexico: Limited forward movement

Potential movement in the Employment Fifth category:

- Most countries: Will remain current
- China: It may be possible to advance the date at a slightly faster pace than has been seen in recent months
- India: Likely to advance at a very rapid pace until the level of demand for visa numbers increases
- Vietnam: Limited forward movement

The DOS noted that the foregoing projections are only projections, and what actually happens regarding date progression may be different than the DOS predicted in the Visa Bulletin for January 2020.

Conclusion

Beneficiaries of approved immigrant visa petitions in the preference category should stay abreast of developments in the monthly visa bulletins. This is especially important for those who plan to apply for adjustment of status. Petitioners and beneficiaries may consult with an experienced immigration attorney for case specific guidance on how to navigate the path to lawful permanent resident status.

Please visit the nyc immigration lawyers website for further information. The Law Offices of Grinberg & Segal, PLLC focuses vast segment of its practice on immigration law. This steadfast dedication has resulted in thousands of immigrants throughout the United States.

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