Each month, the Department of State (“DOS”) publishes current immigrant visa availability information in its Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin indicates when statutorily limited visas are available to prospective immigrants based on their individual priority date.
Typically, the priority date is the date when an immigrant visa petition was filed on an applicant’s behalf with USCIS or, if a labor certification is required, when the labor certification application was accepted for processing by Department of Labor.
“Availability of an immigrant visa” means an applicant is able to take the final step in the process of becoming U.S. permanent resident.
Beginning with the November 2015 Visa Bulletin, if USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, it will state on www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo that applicants may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart. In other words, the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart may only be used if USCIS states that it can be in its monthly update. Otherwise, the Application Final Action Date chart (formerly, the Priority Date chart) should be used to determine when individuals may file their adjustment of status applications.
USCIS anticipates making this determination each month and posting the relevant chart on its website within one week of DOS’ publication of the Visa Bulletin.