As we previously reported, on June 13, 2007, the Department of State (DOS) released the July 2007 Visa Bulletin announcing that the employment-based first, second and third preference categories were all current for all countries of chargeability. What this meant for thousands of employment-based immigrants was the chance to submit an application for permanent residency after years of waiting for a visa number to become available in their employment-based category and country of chargeability. However, on July 2, 2007, in an unprecedented move, the DOS suddenly announced that visa numbers for all employment-based categories had been used up and visa numbers were no longer available until the beginning of the 2008 fiscal year in October. The DOS stated that the backlog reduction efforts initiated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the month of June resulted in the use of almost 60,000 employment-based visa numbers.

After the update by the DOS, the USCIS also announced on July 2, 2007 that it would reject any applications for adjustment of status filed by foreign nationals whose priority dates were not current under the updated Visa Bulletin effective immediately. Consequently, any Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status (Form I-485), filed in July, including those received July 2, 2007, before the updated visa bulletin was announced, would be rejected. The USCIS confirmed that for those foreign nationals who filed the Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140), and the Form I-485, concurrently, but enclosed separate filing fees, the Form I-140 would be accepted for processing but the Form I-485 would be rejected.

It appears that consular posts will continue to process employment-based immigrant visa cases as they have not been impacted by the unavailability of visa numbers for the month of July 2007. The consular posts had requested and been allocated visa numbers prior to the unavailability. The posts will continue to use their July allocations, and issue immigrant visas to those applicants who were scheduled throughout the month of July.

The availability of employment-based visa numbers on October 1, 2007, the date the new fiscal year for the government commences, will not be known until the middle of September when the October 2007 Visa Bulletin will be released.