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Which Visa Bulletin Cut-off Date Should be Used

The Visa Bulletin Cut-off Date has become more complicated since October 2015. Get to know which cut-off date applies to your immigrant visa petition.

Crispin Aranda, Jennifer ArandaOriginally posted on December 15, 2015; updated November 24, 2016

Which Visa Bulletin Cut-off Date Should be Used

In October 2015, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a revision on the procedure for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to apply for their visas under the family-based and employment-based categories.  This modification however, does not apply to individuals with petitions under the Immediate Relative (IR) categories.

The new column called the Application Filing Date, has confused petitioners and visa applicants alike.  The burning question is this: what is the difference between the Application Filing Date and the monthly Priority Dates being issued by the National Visa Center?  And even more importantly, what should the applicants use as a guide for the visa application?  The cut-off for the priority date or the Application Filing Date?

The answer is this: the priority date was reworked into the new system and is now known as the “Final Action Dates.”  Simply put:

  • Dates for filing applications (earliest date when a person may file for adjustment of status or for an immigrant visa)
  • Application “final action dates” (dates when visas may finally be issued.)

So just think of the “priority dates” of the Visa Bulletin as the "final action dates."  When your priority date is included in the “Final Action Dates” chart, your visa can be issued (if you live outside of the U.S.) or your adjustment of status application may be approved (if you are residing in the U.S.) and you may receive your “green card” shortly.

The Dates for filing applications is actually not really a totally new concept. 

The Department of State (of which the National Visa Center is a part of) has been following this practice for years for people applying for their immigrant visas abroad. The usual practice is that the Department of State starts sending a letter or instruction to the applicants even before their priority date becomes current.  Applicants are required to pay the affidavit of support fees and immigrant visa fees, after which forms and documentation follows.

Once applicants become “documentarily qualified,” all they have to do is wait, sit back and relax for their priority date to actually become “current”.   Then all they have to do is wait for their interview schedule.

This concept also applies to people who are already living in United States and are qualified to file for adjustment of status. People will be able to file for adjustment of status (and work authorization) months (or sometimes years) before their priority date (or final action date) is actually current. Once the adjustment application and work authorization are filed, the person could be issued the work authorization and renew it each year, until the final action date is current and the adjustment of status is granted. 

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.

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer S. Aranda is the COO of IVC Immigrant Visa Center, Inc.

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