October 26, 2015
The monthly Visa Bulletin is issued by the Department of State, but USCIS (a division of the Department of Homeland Security) also uses the cutoff dates listed on the Bulletin to determine which green card applications it will accept in a given month. In September, when the DOS made the somewhat drastic change to begin reporting two distinct cutoff dates for each chargeability category – a “Filing” date, when applications can be submitted, and a “Final Action” date when an application is actually eligible to be approved – USCIS provisionally went along with the new system. But USCIS was clear that this policy was subject to change.
Now, after two months, great confusion, and a few lawsuits, USCIS has announced its long-term adaptation to the new Bulletin: it will decide each month whether to accept cases based on the “Filing” or “Final Action” cutoff dates, and it will announce its decision on its website within a week of the DOS issuing the Visa Bulletin. Of course, this policy may well change again, so we’ll be sure to communicate future changes on our monthly Visa Bulletin updates.
For the recently-issued November Visa Bulletin, USCIS confirmed that it will accept cases based on the “Filing” dates. The below chart contains both sets of dates for all chargeability categories (click to enlarge):