Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Availability
In the monthly Visa Bulletin, the U.S. Department of State announced that employment-based (EB) immigrant visas in the following categories are available subject to priority date cut-offs during the following months:
Qualifying beneficiaries under the following EB immigrant categories with priority dates before the listed date may file Form I-485 adjustment applications for permanent residence in March with USCIS:
Qualifying beneficiaries under the following EB immigrant categories with priority dates before the listed date may file Form I-485 adjustment applications for permanent residence in February with USCIS:
What is a priority date?
Your priority date is the date on which your permanent labor certification application was received by the U.S. Department of Labor OR, if you did not require labor certification, the date your I-140 petition was received by USCIS.
What if I was born in China/India, but am now a citizen of another country?
Visa numbers are based on your country of birth, regardless of your current citizenship. However, if your spouse was born in another country that is not subject to the backlog at this time, you can "cross-charge" your I-485 application to your spouse’s country (this is known as "alternate chargeability").
What if my I-485 is already pending with USCIS?
If you already have a pending I-485 application with USCIS, you will continue to be able to apply for and/or to renew your work and travel permits while the backlog continues.
What if my labor certification application is still pending?
Your priority date determines when you will be able to file your I-485. If your labor certification application is still pending, you may be able to file your I-140 and I-485 after the labor certification is approved, depending on what the backlog date is for your country at that time. Also see next question below.
What if I'm about to reach the 6-year maximum in H-1B status?
If your labor certification application or your Form I-140 immigrant petition has been pending for at least 365 days, UH can extend your H-1B status for one year at a time beyond the normal 6-year maximum in H-1B status.
Once your I-140 has been approved, if your country is still backlogged so you cannot file your I-485, your H-1B status can be extended for up to 3 years.
Will these backlog dates change?
Yes, they will eventually change. It is also possible that they may retrogress further. To stay informed about the dates, you may wish to check the monthly Visa Bulletin published by the Department of State.
[Sources: C. Burke, NAFSA:AIE; DOS Visa Bulletin]