On September 9, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State (DOS) indicated that they would begin to release a Revised Visa Bulletin containing two sets of dates for both family-based and employment-based immigrant visas. The first set of dates lists the “Application Final Action Dates,” indicating when an applicant’s immigrant visa or green card can be issued. The second set of dates lists “Dates for Filing Applications,” indicating when applicants would be able to file their adjustment of status applications. Although the "Filing Dates" were expected to be earlier than the "Final Action" dates, under the initial system, the applications would not be adjudicated until the “Final Action” date became current. In addition to providing a significant benefit to individuals faced with long backlogs by allowing them to file their applications for permanent residence earlier, the hope was that this new process would allow DOS to better predict immigrant visa demand.
Today, however, USCIS issued updated instructions for utilizing the new Visa Bulletin System which are a departure from the original process. Beginning with the November 2015 Visa Bulletin, applicants can only use the "Filing Dates" to determine whether they are able to file their adjustment of status applications if USCIS specifically indicates this option is available for that month. Unless otherwise stated, the "Final Action" dates will control. USCIS will make the determination on a month to month basis based on whether there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than known applicants for such visas. USCIS expects to post the information within one week of DOS’ publication of the Visa Bulletin.