Have Foreign Applicants Jumping Through Bureaucratic Hoop

July 2007 – Visa Bulletin Adjustments (re-printed from the August 2007 edition of the Weston Express)
By Keil Hackley

A large number of foreign nationals sponsored for a green card by a U.S. employer in recent years have experienced long waiting periods before being able to file the third and last step in the green card process, the I-485 Application for Adjustment to Permanent Residency Status. This backlog promised to come to an end last month with an announcement that the July Visa Bulletin would be current for all five employment-based immigrant preference categories. This monthly bulletin, issued by the Department of State, indicates who among the green card hopefuls has an immigrant visa number available and can therefore apply for a green card.

Congress annually allots 140,000 immigrant visas, which are distributed among the five preference categories, the most overrun being the third preference category reserved for ‘professionals’, ‘skilled workers’, and ‘other workers’. The demand for visas over the last few years has become so high in some of the preference categories that waiting periods have at times extended to five years for foreign professionals from countries with a high demand for U.S. immigrant visas, such as the Philippines, China, India, and Mexico. The cut off dates or retrogressed dates that until this month would inform potential green card applicants whether their priority date had become current are determined by the first application that was not able to be processed the previous month depending on dates and quota.

With the July bulletin announced as current for all foreign workers seeking permanent residency in the employment based categories, the rush to file I-485 applications was immediate. In order to make sure the application is considered, it has to be filed before the end of the month of July. Then, on July 2nd came the announcement by US CIS that all 140,000 immigrant visa numbers available for issuance in a year had been exhausted. This backlog reduction effort led to a moratorium on filing green card applications, leaving applicants frantic. Then, on July 18th, the CIS announced that anyone eligible to apply under the July Visa Bulletin would be allowed a full month’s time to do so. It is anticipated that after August 18th, all immigrant visa categories will be unavailable until October 1st, 2007.

M. Keil Hackley is a partner in the immigration law firm of Hackley & Robertson, P.A. and can be reached at (954) 349-4994 or kh@HackleyRobertson.com