USCIS has issued a new online tutorial for immigrants that will help determine when a Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status, can be filed with USCIS.  For those immigrants who have a family-based or employment-based immigrant petition filed or approved on their behalf, the new Visa Bulletin tutorial details how to determine your priority date and how to use the USCIS charts for determining when the Form I-485 can be filed with USCIS.

The tutorial explains that green cards and immigrant visa numbers for immediate relatives (spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried children under 21 of US citizens, and parents of U.S. citizens) are unlimited, and therefore an I-485 can be filed at the same time the qualifying relative files Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative.  It also explains that green cards for family-sponsored and employment-sponsored green cards are limited each year, and thus the Visa Bulletin must be consulted to determine when the I-485 Application can be filed.  The key to determining when the I-485 Application can be filed with USCIS is understanding the “priority date,” which is the date that either the immigrant petition is filed with USCIS or the date that the labor certification application was filed with the US Department of Labor (if applicable).

USCIS’ webpage also explains when to use the “Final Action Date” chart and when to use the “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” chart to determine when the I-485 Application can be filed based upon the immigrant’s priority date.  If USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will state on this page that you may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart. Otherwise, USCIS will indicate on this page that you must use the Application Final Action Dates chart to determine when you may file the I-485 Application.  The State Department updates the Visa Bulletin on a monthly basis, and USCIS also will update its charts on a monthly basis accordingly, so immigrants are encouraged to check these charts monthly to determine if the I-485 Application can be filed with USCIS.