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Hurry Up, Ready, Get Set....Wait.

The dilemma of completing a process to be in the incomplete line.

Crispin ArandaOctober 10, 2015

Hurry Up, Ready, Get Set....Wait.

When to File, Submit and Pay Now,  Be Interviewed Later.


The twin priority-date reporting system designed by the U.S. State Department hews close to the “Clean and Green” movement.


No the phrase “Clean and Green” does not refer to environment or global warming.


The phrase is applicable to immigrant visa applicants and their petitioner who would have to pay more green bucks while waiting for the visa issuance, in some cases cleaning out the petitioner or applicant’s pockets.


The new system could also be called the “Hurry Up and Wait” syndrome.


Under the new reporting system, the Visa Office puts out two dates for each of the Family and Employment-based categories.


The first chart referred to as “Final Dates” shows priority dates for each category. A visa applicant whose priority date falls on or before the date on a specific category should have received a notice for the immigrant visa interview.  Not taking action for a year after being notified that a visa is available could result in the cancellation of the visa application.


The second chart “Date of Filing” basically provides the dates by which a visa applicant may start submitting documents and subsequently pay the visa fees until his or her priority date becomes current.  An immigrant visa becomes available if an applicant’s priority date is current.  This date is on the first chart “Final Dates.”


As illustrated in the October and November Visa Bulletin (see table), there is a huge gap between the “Filing” and “Final” dates.


For October 2015, an applicant in the F1 category should have received the interview notice from the National Visa Center if his or her priority date falls on or earlier than June 1, 2001.


An applicant in the same F1 category on the other hand, may start submitting the documents or initiate visa processing if his or her priority date is on or before September 1, 2005.


Note that there is more than a 4-year gap between the two dates.


However, some documents that must be submitted to establish eligibility – and admissibility – expire in 6 months more or less, such as the NBI clearance and documents from the National Statistics Office.


The dilemma lies in the fact that unless ALL documents are submitted and fees paid, an applicant will not be considered “documentarily qualified” (DQ).  Hence to be a DQ, an applicant must pay for the documentation and cost of transmitting the documents to the National Visa Center.  Yet, by the time the interview is scheduled, the submitted documents may have expired and the applicant must obtain new ones, especially since the U.S. Embassy requires original documents during the interview.


And how long  - really – has been the waiting period for each category given the see-sawing supply and demand statistics?


Retrogression Not Factored In?


It is not clear what is the basis for setting the gap between the Final and Filing dates, but it seems the calculation did not take into consideration the retrogression of priority dates based on oversubscription by countries traditionally having more applicants than there are visas available.


Add to that the fact that several countries in the European Union are under threat of war and ethnic/tribal religious conflicts and it is more likely than not that the per country allocations of those countries would be oversubscribed.


When oversubscription happens, there are less visas to trickle down or up to some categories.  


For example visas not used in the 4th Family preference categories (F4) are to be used for F1 visa applicants if the F4 numbers are not used within a fiscal year.  The F3 category (married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) could be allocated visas unused in the F1 and F2 categories while the F4 may use any and all visas not used in the first 3 categories (F1, F2 and F3).


Please take note of the allocation in the Family Preference categories, below:


§  First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens:  23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

§  Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents:  114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

§  (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents:  77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

§  (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents:  23% of the overall second preference limitation.

§  Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens:  23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

§  Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens:  65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.


Until the system is replaced, revised or fine-tuned, visa applicants and petitioners should always take the two charts in mind.

Authors & Contributors

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

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