Filing of Certain Green Card Applications Delayed

By Jeffrey S. Bell

On September 25 USCIS rolled back the program granting certain foreign nationals the ability to file to adjust status to permanent resident (Form I-485).  Previously, USCIS had announced a coordinated effort with the Department of State (DOS) to revise the procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file for employment-based or family-sponsored preference adjustment of status.

The earlier pronouncement and announced filing dates would have permitted many employment based Chinese, Indian, and Filipino immigrants to file to adjust status.  A foreign national filing to adjust status is eligible for temporary work and travel benefits while the case is processed, and spouses and dependent children are able to file for these benefits as well.  Over the past two weeks many foreign nationals and their families have been busy preparing applications in anticipation of the I-485 filing window opening on October 1.

Unfortunately for many of these individuals, the rollback announced on September 25 will delay their ability to file for permanent residence and to receive work and travel authorization.  For example, the original pronouncement would have allowed Indian nationals with advanced degrees (EB2 category) to file to adjust status if their priority date was prior to October 1, 2011.  Under the new cutoff dates announced on September 25, only those Indians in the EB2 category with priority dates before July 1, 2009 may file.  Similar rollbacks in the I-485 filing dates are present for Chinese and Filipino professionals.

Although many employment based immigrants will be disappointed to learn of the filing delay, we are hopeful the filing dates will advance over the coming months as USCIS and DOS work out the kinks in the new program.  Check back with us as we will continue to monitor developments in this important area that impacts so many employees who have been waiting years to complete the permanent immigration process.

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