What do ‘dates for filing’ and ‘Application filing dates’ mean on the monthly visa bulletin?
IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel (The Philippine Star) - December 9, 2018 - 12:00am

Since October 2015, the monthly Visa Bulletin (priority dates) was revised, adding a new column or chart called the “Application Filing Dates or “Dates for Filing.” (There is also a column or chart called “Final Action Dates” or “Visa Issuance Dates.”)

But what does the Application Filing Date mean? How does it affect the issuance of an immigrant visa or granting of adjustment of status?  Many people are confused between the Application Filing Date and the Final Action Date.

Final Action date: This is the column or chart for what had been the actual priority dates, when a visa could be issued or adjustment of status approved and to calculate a child’s age under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).  

Dates for Filing date: After the State Department publishes the monthly Visa Bulletin, USCIS decides whether it will use the Dates for Filing or Final Action Dates for accepting adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions.  If USCIS uses the “Dates for Filing” chart for a particular month, and the person’s priority date is earlier than the priority date on the Dates for Filing chart, they can already file for adjustment of status and work authorization (provided they are otherwise eligible). This could allow people to obtain work authorization much sooner than when they had to wait for the priority date to be current (in the Visa Issuance or Final Action Date column) to file for adjustment and be eligible for a green card.

The Dates for Filing column would also be about the time the NVC would send out forms to the beneficiary to be filled out, if the person is applying for an immigrant visa abroad.  The Dates for Filing column also reflects when the State Department expects the Final Action Dates to be current 8 to 12 months in the future.  In other words, if a person’s priority date is listed in the Dates for Filing column, their priority date would be current in the Final Action Date column in less than a year.  However, if a person priority date is current in the Dates for Filing date column, it does not mean they are eligible for a visa or adjustment of status right now.  Instead, they might be eligible 8 to 12 months later.

If you have a priority date, and it is close to being current, and you have questions as to which chart applies to you and whether you are eligible to apply for immigration benefits in a particular month, you should seek the advice of an attorney, to make sure you’re not missing out on a critical filing date.

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