On Friday, September 25, 2015, the U.S. Department of State released a revised October Visa Bulletin, significantly cutting back the new “filing cutoff date” for applicants in backlogged immigrant visa categories to file their Applications to Adjust Status. On Monday, September 28, 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington seeking declaratory and injunctive relief that, if granted, would enjoin enforcement of the revised October Visa Bulletin and reinstate the original October Visa Bulletin issued on September 9, 2015.
In July 2007, the U.S. Department of State took similar action in publishing a revised July 2007 Visa Bulletin that deprived thousands of applicants of the opportunity to file their applications during Fiscal Year 2007. Under threat of litigation and in response to widespread protest and condemnation, in mid-July 2007 the U.S. Department of State withdrew the revised July 2007 Visa Bulletin and reinstated the original July 2007 Visa Bulletin, which restored filing eligibility to thousands of families.
The impact of the current lawsuit remains to be seen. The details of the current circumstances are different, because the October 2015 Visa Bulletin is the first bulletin published under a new format that establishes separate “filing cutoff dates” and “final action cutoff dates”. Because the Department of State rescinded the revised July Visa Bulletin in 2007 without a court ruling on the matter, there is no direct precedent decision that might be said to dictate the outcome of the present debacle. Accordingly, affected applicants must wait for the Government to rescind the revised October Visa Bulletin on its own initiative, or for a Federal court to force it to do so by awarding the injunctive relief sought in the class action lawsuit filed yesterday.