Immigration Lawyer Ari Sauer – The Immigration Answer Man

Memphis immigration lawyer Ari Sauer provides news and information on US immigration law.

EXPLANATION OF MARCH 2018 DOS VISA BULLETIN

00103569The US Department of State has issued the March 2018 Visa Bulletin. The DOS Visa Bulletin lists visa availability to let foreign nationals know when they can file an Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) or Application for Adjustment of Status (I-485) to become a US Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) (commonly known as a green card holder) based upon the immigrant petition filed by their relative, employer, self-petition, or under the Diversity (DV) Lottery. The dates listed are the Priority Dates for immigrant petitions (i.e., I-130, I-140, I-360, I-526, etc.) or the DV Lottery selectees’ case numbers. A visa is available if your priority date is earlier than the date listed for your category and country of chargeability, or if your DV Lottery case number is less than the number listed.

Please note that I-130 petitions for Immediate Relatives (spouse, parent, or unmarried child under 21 of a US citizen) and I-360 petitions for abused children or spouses of US citizens are not subject to the Visa Bulletin, as there is currently no limit on visa availability for these categories.

HOW TO READ THE VISA BULLETIN

To read the visa bulletin:

1) First, find the appropriate section of the Visa Bulletin. If your petition is a family-based petition (i.e. I-130, I-360 for abused child or spouse of Lawful Permanent Resident) then you will be looking at the first two charts, the “Family-Sponsored Preferences” section. If your petition is an Employment Based immigrant petitions (i.e., I-140, I-526, I-360 for Religious Workers) or I-360 petitions for certain other categories (i.e., Special Immigrant Juvenile) then you will be looking at the 3rd and 4th charts, the “Employment-Based Preferences” section. The remaining two charts are for the Diversity Visa Lottery.

2) Next, determine which chart you may use within the section. In both the “Family-Sponsored Preferences” section and the “Employment-Based Preferences” section, there are two charts. The first chart lists the “Final Action Dates” and the second chart lists the “Dates For Filing”. The “Final Action Dates” chart list shows which petitions have visas currently available for them. The “Dates For Filing” chart shows petitions that do not currently have visas available for them but are sufficiently close to having visas available for them that beneficiaries MIGHT be able to file their I-485 or DS-260 application early, in anticipation of a visa becoming available for the petition.

For those who are outside the US (or otherwise not eligible to apply for Adjustment of Status within the US, and therefore will be filing a Form DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application with the DOS National Visa Center), you may use the “Dates for Filing” chart in determining when you will be able to file the DS-260 application.

For those who are within the US and meet all eligibility requirements to file a Form I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status, you will need to consult the guidance provided on the USCIS website’s “Adjustment of Status Filing Charts” page. This page provides monthly instructions on whether applicants may rely on the “Dated for Filing” chart, or whether they must wait for a visa to become available under the “Final Action Dates” chart.

(Edited 2/21/18: According to the USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the Month of March 2018, USCIS is allowing eligible applicants who are beneficiaries of family-based petitions to use the “Dates for Filing Family-Sponsored Visa Applications” chart. For the Month of March 2018, USCIS is requiring eligible applicants who are beneficiaries of employment-based petitions [including certain I-360 petitions] to use the “Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Preference Cases” chart.)

For the DV Lottery cases, the two charts work differently. The first chart, “Diversity Immigrant Category For The Month of [current month]” lists the DV Lottery rank numbers that currently have a visa available. The second chart “The Diversity (DV) Immigrant Category Rank Cut-Offs Which Will Apply In [upcoming month]” list those DV Lottery rank numbers that are predicted to become available next month. An I-485 or DS-260 application can be filed when the lottery rank number is lower than the lottery rank number listed in the second chart (the listing for the upcoming month). But USCIS or DOS cannot approve the I-485 application or issue the Immigrant Visa until a visa is available as shown on the first chart (the listing for the current month).

3) Locate the appropriate column for your country of chargeability. If your country of chargeability is not listed, that means that you would fall within the All Chargeability category.

The DV lottery charts are is listed in rows by region instead of country, although some countries within a region will be listed separately.

4) For the “Family-Sponsored Preferences” charts and the “Employment-Based Preferences” charts, locate the appropriate row for your petition from the visa preference categories listed on the left (F-1 through F-4 for the Family-Based charts or 1st through 5th for the Employment-Based charts).

5) Compare the priority date listed on the Visa Bulletin to the priority date for your petition. If a “C” is listed, that means that visas are “current”, meaning available for all petitions in that listing for that month. If a “U” is listed, that means that visas are “unauthorized”, meaning visas are not available for all petitions in that listing for that month.

For the DV Lottery, compare the number listed on the Visa Bulletin to the number listed on your Congratulatory Notice.

The March 2018 Visa Bulletin becomes effective on March 1, 2018. Until then the February 2018 Visa Bulletin remains in effect. If you file an application for adjustment of status (Form I-485) too early, your application will be rejected or denied.

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First: (F1) – Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens

Second (F2A) – Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents

Second (F2B) – Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents

Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens

A) FINAL ACTION DATES FOR FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCE CASES

Family-
Sponsored 
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES 
F1 MAR 22, 2011

(moved from MAR 15, 2011 last month)

MAR 22, 2011

(moved from MAR 15, 2011 last month)

MAR 22, 2011

(moved from MAR 15, 2011 last month)

JUL 22, 1996

(moved from JUL 1, 1996 last month)

OCT 15, 2005

(moved from AUG 01, 2005 last month)

F2A MAR 22, 2016

(moved from MAR 01, 2016 last month)

MAR 22, 2016

(moved from MAR 01, 2016 last month)

MAR 22, 2016

(moved from MAR 01, 2016 last month)

FEB 1, 2016

(moved from MAR 01, 2016 last month)

 

MAR 22, 2016

(moved from MAR 01, 2016 last month)

F2B MAR 1, 2011

(moved from JAN 15, 2011 last month)

MAR 1, 2011

(moved from JAN 15, 2011 last month)

MAR 1, 2011

(moved from JAN 15, 2011 last month)

OCT 15, 1996

(moved from SEP 08, 1996 last month)

SEP 8, 2006

(moved from JUL 22, 2006 last month)

F3 DEC 15, 2005

(moved from NOV 15, 2005 last month)

DEC 15, 2005

(moved from NOV 15, 2005 last month)

DEC 15, 2005

(moved from NOV 15, 2005 last month)

JUN 22, 1995

(No movement from last month)

MAR 22, 1995

(moved from MAR 15, 1995 last month)

F4 AUG 22, 2004

(moved from JUL 22, 2004 last month)

AUG 22, 2004

(moved from JUL 22, 2004 last month)

FEB 1, 2004

(moved from JAN 8, 2004 last month)

NOV 15, 1997

(moved from NOV 8, 1997 last month)

NOV 22, 1994

(moved from OCT 1, 1994 last month)

 

B) DATES FOR FILING FAMILY-SPONSORED VISA APPLICATIONS

Those filing Form I-485 Applications for Adjustment of Status should not use this chart without first verifying whether the USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from the Visa Bulletin allows for using this chart in March of 2018.

Family-
Sponsored 
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES 
F1 JAN 1, 2012

(No movement from last month)

JAN 1, 2012

(No movement from last month)

JAN 1, 2012

(No movement from last month)

SEP 8, 1997

(moved from NOV 1, 1996 last month)

OCT 1, 2007

(No movement from last month)

F2A MAY 1, 2017

(moved from NOV 1, 2016 last month)

MAY 1, 2017

(moved from NOV 1, 2016 last month)

MAY 1, 2017

(moved from NOV 1, 2016 last month)

MAY 1, 2017

(moved from NOV 1, 2016 last month)

MAY 1, 2017

(moved from NOV 1, 2016 last month)

F2B SEP 1, 2011

(No movement from last month)

SEP 1, 2011

(No movement from last month)

SEP 1, 2011

(No movement from last month)

JAN 1, 1997

(No movement from last month)

SEP 1, 2007

(No movement from last month)

F3 DEC 1, 2005

(No movement from last month)

DEC 1, 2005

(No movement from last month)

DEC 1, 2005

(No movement from last month)

APR 1, 1997

(moved from OCT 1, 1995 last month)

JUN 15, 1995

(No movement from last month)

F4 JAN 22, 2005

(moved from NOV 15, 2004 last month)

JAN 22, 2005

(moved from NOV 15, 2004 last month)

JUN 22, 2004

(No movement from last month)

FEB 8, 1998

(No movement from last month)

MAR 1, 1995

(No movement from last month)

 

EMPLOYMENT-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First (EB-1A, EB-1B, EB-1C):  Priority Workers

Second (EB-2):  Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability

Third (EB-3):  Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers

Fourth (EB-4 and Special Immigrants):  Certain Special Immigrants

Fifth (EB-5):  Employment Creation Investors

A) FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES

Employment-
based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st Current (C) Current (C) Current (C) Current (C) Current (C) Current (C)
2nd Current (C) DEC 8, 2013

(Moved from OCT 1, 2013 last month)

Current (C) DEC 15, 2008

(Moved from DEC 8, 2008 last month)

Current (C) Current (C)
3rd Current (C) NOV 15, 2014

(Moved from APR 15, 2014 last month)

Current (C) JAN 1, 2007

(Moved from DEC 1, 2006 last month)

Current (C) MAY 1, 2016

(Moved from MAR 1, 2016 last month)

Other Workers Current (C) MAR 1, 2007

(Moved from FEB 1, 2007 last month)

Current (C) JAN 1, 2007

(Moved from DEC 1, 2006 last month)

Current (C) MAY 1, 2016

(Moved from MAR 1, 2016 last month)

4th Current (C) Current (C) DEC 1, 2015

(No movement from last month)

Current (C) JUL 1, 2016

(Moved from JUN 22, 2016 last month)

Current (C)
Certain Religious Workers Current (C)* Current (C)* DEC 1, 2015* Current (C)* JUL 1, 2016* Current (C)*
5th Non-Regional Center
(C5 and T5)
Current (C) JUL 22, 2014

(No movement from last month)

Current (C) Current (C) Current (C) Current (C)
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
Current (C)** JUL 22, 2014** Current (C)** Current (C)** Current (C)** Current (C)**

*  Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR): On February 9, 2018, Congress signed a continuing resolution which extended the non-minister special immigrant program until on March 23, 2018. If Congress does not extend the non-minister special immigrant program by then, the final action date would immediately become “Unavailable” for March for all countries. No visas could be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after midnight March 22, 2018. Visas issued prior to this date will only be issued with a validity date of March 22, 2018, and all individuals seeking admission as a non-minister special immigrant must be admitted into the U.S. no later than midnight March 22, 2018.

**  Employment Fifth Preference Categories (I5 and R5): The continuing resolution signed by Congress on February 9, 2018 extended this immigrant investor pilot program until March 23, 2018. If Congress does not extend this immigrant investor pilot program by then, he final action date would  immediately become “Unavailable” for March for all countries. The I5 and R5 visas could be issued until close of business on March 23, 2018, and may be issued for the full validity period. No I5 or R5 visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after March 23, 2018.

B) DATES FOR FILING OF EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISA APPLICATIONS

Those filing Form I-485 Applications for Adjustment of Status should not use this chart without first verifying whether the USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from the Visa Bulletin allows for using this chart in March of 2018.

There was no change made in this chart from last month.

Employment-
based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO  PHILIPPINES 
1st Current (C) Current (C) Current (C) Current (C) Current (C) Current (C)
2nd Current (C) FEB 1, 2015 Current (C) FEB 8, 2009 Current (C) Current (C)
3rd Current (C) JAN 1, 2016 Current (C) JAN 1, 2008 Current (C) OCT 1, 2016
Other Workers Current (C) JUN 1, 2008 Current (C) JAN 1, 2008 Current (C) OCT 1, 2016
4th Current (C) Current (C) APR 15, 2016 Current (C) Current (C) Current (C)
Certain Religious Workers Current (C) Current (C) APR 15, 2016 Current (C) Current (C) Current (C)
5th Non-Regional Center
(C5 and T5)
Current (C) SEP 1, 2014 Current (C) Current (C) Current (C) Current (C)
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
Current (C) SEP 1, 2014 Current (C) Current (C) Current (C) Current (C)

 

DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY

A) DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT (DV) CATEGORY FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH

USCIS and DOS can approve pending Form I-485 applications and Form DS-260 applications under this chart during the month of March 2018.

Region All DV Chargeability Areas Except
Those Listed Separately
AFRICA 17,700 Except:
Egypt:      12,400
Ethiopia:  16,600
ASIA 4,400 Except:
Nepal:     3,875
EUROPE 13,800
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) 8
OCEANIA 800
SOUTH AMERICA,
and the CARIBBEAN
800

B) THE DIVERSITY (DV) IMMIGRANT CATEGORY RANK CUT-OFFS WHICH WILL APPLY IN APRIL

This chart should be used by eligible applicants to determine if a Form I-485 application or Form DS-260 application can be filed during the month of March 2018.

Region All DV Chargeability Areas Except
Those Listed Separately
AFRICA 21,100 Except:
Egypt:      14,500
Ethiopia:  20,100
ASIA 5,300 Except:
Nepal: 4,550
EUROPE 15,950
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) 10
OCEANIA 875
SOUTH AMERICA,
and the CARIBBEAN
925

 

By Ari Sauer.

Submit questions to Ari Sauer – The Immigration Answer Man by emailing your question to immigrationanswerman@gmail.com. Questions submitted by email will be posted without personal information unless specifically requested. Due to the volume of questions received, not all questions submitted will be answered. Only general questions can be answered on this blog. For answers to specific questions about your situation, please schedule a consultation appointment with attorney Ari Sauer. Sending in a question by email or any other means does not create an attorney-client relationship.

* This is an advertisement. Ari Sauer is an attorney with the Siskind Susser law firm. www.visalaw.com/ari. On this blog we answer questions as a service to our readers, but we cannot assume any liability related to reliance on anything herein, and responses to questions are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Immigration laws and regulations are constantly changing, and the rules stated may not apply to your situation. Readers are cautioned to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer before acting on anything stated in this blog. This blog is not intended to substitute for a consultation with a qualified immigration law attorney. Ari Sauer is licensed to practice law through the states of Tennessee, New York, and New Jersey but is eligible to assist clients from throughout the US. Certification as an Immigration Specialist is not currently available in Tennessee, New York or New Jersey. Siskind Susser limits its practice strictly to immigration law, a Federal practice area, and we do not claim expertise in the laws of states other than where our attorneys are licensed. the opinions expressed here are those of Ari Sauer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Siskind Susser law firm.

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