May 2017 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for May 2017. The table below shows “Final Action (Approval)” cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For historical data, predictions and more information please refer to our Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2013-02-08 24
India Second (EB2) 2008-06-22 0
ROW Third (EB3) 2017-03-15 28
China Third (EB3) 2014-10-01 47
India Third (EB3) 2005-03-25 1
Mexico Third (EB3) 2017-03-15 28
Philippines Third (EB3) 2013-01-01 108

The Department of State also made the following annoucement with regard to EB1 and EB2 future movement:

Employment First Preference: A Final Action Date will be established for both CHINA-mainland born and INDIA in the near future. Once such a date has been established, there is some chance that it might advance slowly through September. The date for these countries will once again become CURRENT for October, the first month of fiscal year 2018.

Employment Second Preference: Worldwide, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the Philippines can be expected to become oversubscribed no later than July. It is possible that there could be some forward movement of the established Final Action Date by September. The date for these countries will once again become CURRENT for October, the first month of fiscal year 2018.

USCIS I-485 Statistics – January to March, 2015

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the latest performance data of I-485 Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Below is a summary of the total number of I-485 cases by category. For more detailed statistics including service center and field office data, please click here.

 I-485 Applications Performance Data (1/1/2015 – 3/31/2015) : Received Approved Denied Pending
Family-based 71,400 58,697 8,203 188,987
Employment-based 30,846 26,232 1,667 122,812
Humanitarian-based 37,846 35,802 1,162 94,316
Others 6,240 6,440 784 16,964
Total 146,332 127,171 11,816 423,079

Notes:

  • Family-based: Applications based on a family relationship with an LPR (legal permanent resident, a.k.a. green card holder) or a U.S. citizen.
  • Employment-based: Applications based on employment status, or as an entrepreneur to create a commercial enterprise.
  • Humanitarian-based: Applications covered by Refugees & Asylum, Battered Spouse, Children & Parents and other special humanitarian programs.
  • Received: The number of new applications received and entered into a case-tracking system during the reporting period.
  • Approved: The number of applications approved during the reporting period.
  • Denied: The number of applications denied, terminated, or withdrawn during the reporting period.
  • Pending: The number of applications still awaiting a decision as of the end of the reporting period.
  • Source: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Performance Analysis System (PAS) , March 2015

Green Card Application Timeline for Parents of U.S. Citizen

After nine months, my parents’ green card applications were approved today. They didn’t have to go to an interview. Below is a brief timeline for their adjustment of status process.

  1. February 2013:
    • Completed medical exams.
    • Sent both applications (in separate envelopes and clearly labeled) in one package to USCIS in late February.
    • Each application included concurrently filed I-130 and I-485, as well as I-131, plus supporting documents.
  2. March 2013: Received I-797 receipt notices in early March and biometric appointment notice in late March.
  3. April 2013: Competed fingerprinting.
  4. May 2013: Received Advance Parole (travel documents). Since we didn’t apply for EAD, this just came in as a paper document – not a card.
  5. August 2013: Received a Notice of Potential Interview Waiver Case and warning of additional six-month delay.
  6. November 2013: Received email about improvement on I-130 processing.
  7. December 2013: Both I-130 and I-485 were approved on 12/4.

Since March 2013, their case status on the USCIS online status check system never changed until today. The I-130 was stuck at Initial Review and I-485 at Acceptance. On December 4, however, I-485 status was updated and jumped directly to step 5: Card Production Ordered (last step on the status graph). Four hours later, the status went back to step 3 – Decision – with the following message:

On December 4, 2013, we mailed you a notice that we had registered this customer’s new permanent resident status. Please follow any instructions on the notice. Your new permanent resident card should be mailed within 60 days following this registration or after you complete any ADIT processing referred to in the welcome notice, whichever is later. If you move before receiving your card, please call our customer service center at 1-800-375-5283.

The first status update for I-130 was a message I’d never seen before:

On December 4, 2013, your Alien Registration Number was changed relating to your I130, IMMIGRANT PETITION FOR RELATIVE, FIANCE(E), OR ORPHAN.  Please check our website at www.uscis.gov for further updates on your case.  Please wait until the end of normal processing time before calling customer service at 1-800-375-5283 for live assistance.

Again, four hours later the message changed to the approval notice:

On December 4, 2013, we mailed you a notice that we certified our approval of this case and sent it to the appropriate appellate body for review. They will notify you directly when they make a final decision. If you move while this case is pending, follow the instructions provided in the notice and use our Change of Address online tool to update your case with your new address or call our customer service center at 1-800-375-5283.

USCIS I-130 Processing Times to Improve in Coming Months

In a recent post I talked about USCIS’ significant delays in processing I-130 petitions filed by U.S. citizens for their immediate relatives. I also proposed a potential reason for the issue. Apparently USCIS has been fully aware of the situation.

In an email sent to stakeholders today, USCIS promised to speed up the adjudication of I-130 forms in the coming months. In fact, USCIS said the processing had already improved, with USCIS currently processing February 2013 petitions instead of October 2012, as published in most recent processing guidelines. By May of next year, USCIS expects to return to an average processing time of five months for these Forms.

Here is the letter from USCIS:

Dear Stakeholder,

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received communications from the public expressing concerns regarding extended processing times for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed by U.S. citizens for their eligible immediate relatives. USCIS provides information below in response to the concerns expressed.

USCIS is ever-mindful of the need to process a U.S. citizen’s immediate relative Form I-130 carefully and expeditiously. The need is defined by the immigration system’s goal of preserving family unity. It is for this fundamental reason that USCIS has been focused on addressing delays in the processing of these Forms I-130 for several months.

Through concerted efforts, USCIS is now adjudicating U.S. citizens’ immediate relative Forms I-130 filed as early as February 2013. This is a significant step forward, as previously published guidance reflected the processing of these Forms I-130 filed in October 2012. Furthermore, USCIS expects the processing of these Forms I-130 to be increasingly timely in the ensuing weeks, culminating in the return to an average processing time of five months for these Forms I-130 by May 2014.

USCIS has focused on these Forms I-130 for the very reason that affected members of the public have expressed their concerns; the importance of family unity. Last month, in an effort to expedite the adjudication of these cases, USCIS began transferring stand-alone Forms I-130 filed by U.S. citizens for their immediate relatives from USCIS’s National Benefits Center to its Nebraska, Texas, and California Service Centers. This shift improves USCIS’s ability to adjudicate the cases in a timely manner.

….. (standard language on checking/tracking case status)

We appreciate the concerns that members of the public have expressed on this important subject. We are mindful of those concerns and are addressing them with great diligence.

Kind Regards,
USCIS Public Engagement Division

USCIS Pending I-485 Inventory (10-01-2013) Released

USCIS today released the pending employment-based I-485 inventory with data as of October 1, 2013. Our green card tracker has now been updated with the new inventory data. If you have questions about the data or how the tracker works, please visit our FAQ section and/or leave a comment below.

The Consular Processing (CP) inventory is supposed to be published by the Department of State very soon. New information will be included in the tracker as soon as they are released.

Below is a graph showing all pending cases for the past two years, for China EB-2:
China EB2 Pending I-485

India EB-2:
India EB2 Pending I-485

India EB-3:
India EB3 Pending I-485

Is DACA Linked to USCIS I-130 Processing Delays?

Recently many I-130 petitioners have received a USCIS letter stating that their case would be further delayed by about six months. The letter also says the delay is caused by workload factors not related to their case. A reader suggested DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) as the reason, so I dug up some data published by USCIS. Since the start of DACA in August, 2012, the total number of pending I-130 petitions has jumped from 208K to 320K, a 60% increase. This number only includes immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and new filings for the same period of time have remained steady.

Below is the pending I-130 data for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, published by USCIS:

Pending I-130 vs DACA

On the other hand, more than 500,000 DACA applications have been processed relatively quickly, especially when compared to typical USCIS processing times.

Although this data point is hardly conclusive, it does suggest that USCIS may have pulled a considerable amount of resources away from handling regular immigration cases. It is possible that USCIS had no other choice, considering the surge of DACA applications last Summer. In addition, DACA was implemented under an executive order, rather than a new law passed by Congress, so it probably left USCIS very little time to get ready. What is unclear is whether USCIS was also ordered to assign top priority to DACA cases, at the cost of others that have already been waiting in line.

What is more, DACA is valid for two years and renewable. If Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) doesn’t pass, it means that every two years there will be a rush of DACA applications and the temporary delay of processing other cases could very well become permanent.

For people not familiar with immigration issues, I-130 is the only way a U.S. citizen can bring an immediate relative – such as a spouse, parents or children – to live in the U.S. as a permanent resident. DACA is a government policy to defer removal action and grant work authorization to certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines.

DACA statistics:

DACA Statistics

USCIS Notice of Potential Interview Waiver

I’m currently sponsoring my parents for permanent residency and the process has been very slow. We filed I-130 and I-485 concurrently back in February, 2013. Seven months later it appears that we have to wait a few more months to get the green cards. Since parents of a U.S. citizen don’t need visa numbers, this used to be a quick process – not any more.

Today I received a Notice of Potential Interview Waiver from USCIS with the good news first:

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has identified your application as a potential interview waiver case. This means that we may not need to interview you to complete your application. However, if we later determine that an interview is required, we will schedule an interview appointment and notify you.”

Before we had time to celebrate, here came the bad news:

“Due to workload factors not related to your case, USCIS anticipates a delay in completing your case. Presently, we anticipate that delay to be approximately 6 months from the date of this letter. If you do not receive a decision or other notices of action from USCIS by that date, please contact our National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at the number below.”

Essentially USCIS is saying that your case looks good, but we’re so busy working on other stuff that you have to wait longer than we originally told you.

This letter brought back memories, or nightmares, of my own experience waiting 5 years in the dreaded EB queue, wondering what else was going to come up.

USCIS-Notice-of-Potential-Interview-Waiver

Vaccination Requirements of Adjustment of Status Applicants

Green card applicants filing for adjustment of status (Form I-485) are required to submit Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. The form must be completed, signed and sealed by a designated civil surgeon. Form I-693 is used by USCIS to determine whether an applicant is inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds.

Form I-693 includes a vaccination record. The civil surgeon will indicate whether the applicant has met the vaccination requirement and whether a waiver is requested. CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – is the government agency responsible for setting the specific requirements. Below is a table that lists current requirements for vaccination, based on the applicant’s age at time of medical examination. For more information, or for updated vaccination requirements, please go to the CDC page here.

Table: Requirements for routine vaccination of adjustment of status applicants who are not fully vaccinated or lack documentation.
Vaccine Age
Birth-1 Month 2-11 Months 12 Months-6 Years 7-10 Years 11-17 Years 18-64 Years ≥65 Years
DTP/DTaP/DT NO YES NO
Td/Tdap NO YES, if 7 years and older (for Td); if 10 years through 64 years (for Tdap-see ACIP schedule); if 65 years and older (for Td)
IPV NO YES NO
MMR NO YES, if born in 1957 or later NO, if born before 1957
Rotavirus NO YES, if 6 weeks to 8 months NO
Hib NO YES, if 2 months through 59 months NO
Hepatitis A NO YES, if 12 months through 23 months NO
Hepatitis B YES, birth through 18 years NO
Meningococcal (MCV4) NO YES, if 11 years through 18 years NO
Varicella NO YES
Pneumococcal NO YES, if 2 months through 59 months (for PCV) NO YES (for PPV)
Influenza NO YES, 6 months and older (annually each flu season)

Note that since 2010, the flu vaccine is required for all applicants 6 months of age and older, but only during the flu season. For immigration purposes, the flu season is Oct 1 – Mar 31 annually.

More fine prints can be found here:

DTP=diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis vaccine; DTaP=diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine; DT=pediatric formulation diphtheria and tetanus toxoids; Td=adult formulation tetanus and diphtheria toxoids; Tdap=adolescent and adult formulation tetanus and diphtheria toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (Boostrix for persons 10-64 years old; Adacel for persons 11-64 years old); IPV=inactivated poliovirus vaccine (killed); MMR=combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine; Hib=Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccine; MCV=meningococcal conjugate vaccine; PCV=pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; PPV=pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.