On December 14, 2015, USCIS released an updated Visa Bulletin chart listing the dates to file adjustment of status applications starting in January, 2016. Applicants can use the charts issued by USCIS as a guide to determine whether visas in particular categories are available for them and whether they are eligible to file I-485 adjustment of status applications.
As we previously reported, earlier in September 2015, USCIS and DOS revised the procedures for determining visa availability for individuals looking to file adjustment of status applications. The Visa Bulletin now has two categories of cut-off dates:
- Application Final Action Dates (dates when visas may finally be issued); and
- Dates for Filing Applications (earliest dates when applicants are eligible to apply).
The two categories listed in the Visa Bulletin are Family-sponsored immigrant visas and Employment-based immigrant visas. The Visa Bulletin charts jointly released from USCIS and Department of States are listed below:
DATES FOR FILING FAMILY-SPONSORED VISA APPLICATIONS
As indicated in the chart for Family-Sponsored visa categories, applicants may use the Dates for Filing Visa applications chart for January 2016.
Recent Procedural Changes by USCIS
On October 14, 2015, USCIS again changed its instruction for the adjustment of status process. Under the new guideline, applicants will only be permitted to use the Dates for Filing chart if USCIS first determines there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than available applicants. This decision is made each month by USCIS, and applicants must use the Application Final Action Dates chart unless USCIS states otherwise. The Visa Bulletin in January 2016 reflects this newly implemented instruction, and applicants must use the Application Final Action Dates. The chart below lists the dates for Employment-Based preference visas:
APPLICATION FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES
 See Dept of State, Visa Bulletin For January 2016, Number 88, Vol. IX, available at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2016/visa-bulletin-for-january-2016.html; see also USCIS, When to File Your Adjustment of Status Application for Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based Preference Visas: January 2016, available at: http://www.uscis.gov/visabulletin-jan-16.
 USCIS, Updated Instruction for Using the DOS Visa Bulletin, available at http://www.uscis.gov/news/updated-instruction-using-dos-visa-bulletin.
*Not admitted to the practice of law.