A Blog reader called me the other day and wanted to know when his priority date will become current. His I-485 adjustment was filed in August 2007 when visas opened up for 30 days, and since that time retrogressed. The applicant is from India and like many others in his shoes is eager for answers. So how do visa numbers become available?
In order to approve an application for adjustment of status (I-485), there must be a visa number available in the particular category. This, in turn, depends upon the country of chargeability and the priority date of the case. Once the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reviewed a particular I-485 application, a request is submitted to the DOS for a visa authorization. If the USCIS makes the request for a visa number to the DOS when the priority date of a particular case is current, and an immigrant visa number is available, the authorization is transmitted and the USCIS can approve the I-485 application. This is all tracked through the DOS Immigrant Visa Allocation Management System (IVAMS).
If an immigrant visa number for a particular individual is requested from the DOS by the USCIS, but none is available, the request is moved to the “pending” file with the DOS. Data from this pending file is used by the DOS to calculate the appropriate cutoff dates for the backlogged categories in the Visa Bulletin each month.
Cases placed in the pending demand category are processed as immigrant visa numbers become available. The DOS communicates with the USCIS regarding the A numbers of the cases for which visa numbers have been authorized. These cases are then processed to completion and green cards are then issued by the USCIS.
As you can see, this is a very complicated and streamlined process, with actual visa numbers tracked, issued, and assigned to particular green card cases as part of the approval process. Clients often do not understand why they have to wait, sometimes years for visa numbers to open, even after USCIS approvals. We hope that both agencies will find a better way to talk to each other and make the Immigrant visa process and much smoother one.