AGenerally, the cut-off dates in the Visa Bulletin indicate exactly where the front of the line is. If you have an application date earlier than the cut-off date, then you can apply for a green card. There is a catch/a condition though where the cut-off date could be moved backward.
According to the USCIS, there are some months when more people apply for a visa in a specific category than there are available visas for that month. This is when the cut-off date may move backward. This backward movement (a priority date that is valid one month but not the next) is called visa retrogression. The most common retrogression month is September when the fiscal year for the government ends.
Visa retrogression is usually caused because the “annual limit for a category or country has been used up or is expected to be used up soon.” Usually, things return to normal (the cut-off dates shift back to where they were before the retrogression) when the new fiscal year begins on October 1. A new supply of visas is available when the new fiscal year begins.
Ideally, the Visa Bulletin warns applicants of an upcoming retrogression – which gives green card applicants some time to adjust. There are times, though, when a monthly Visa Bulletin announces a retrogression without warning – causing some applicants to move backward inline instead of forward.
That’s why it’s critical to move (to have all your green card applications ready as soon as possible) so you can file when a monthly Visa Bulletin says you have a good date to apply. That date may move backward in the next month – preventing you from applying for your green card.
According to Boundless, “If you’ve already filed your green card application and there’s a visa retrogression, USCIS or the State Department will hold your application until you get back to the front of the line. You don’t need to do anything other than ensure that your contact information is up to date.”
According to the USCIS, in the past, DOS [Department of State] “has notified USCIS that several visa preference categories have become fully subscribed within days of publication of the monthly Visa Bulletin. Despite this fact, applicable regulations prevent USCIS from rejecting applications within that particular month, regardless of the actual availability of visa numbers.”
“If an officer encounters a case in which a visa was available at time of filing but is not available at time of final adjudication, the case should be retained, pre-processed, and adjudicated up to the point of final approval. If a particular applicant is ineligible for adjustment due to an issue not related to visa availability, the case may be denied accordingly because visa availability is not relevant.”
“All otherwise approvable employment-based and family-based cases located at a USCIS field office that does not have a visa available at the time of adjudication must be transferred to the appropriate USCIS office or Service Center once the case has been adjudicated up to the point of final adjudication.”
“Final adjudication cannot be completed until a visa has been requested and DOS approves the visa request. Once a visa number becomes available, a USCIS officer will complete a final review of the adjustment application to ensure the applicant continues to meet eligibility requirements at the time of final adjudication.” Security updates and Requests for Evidence may be needed before a final adjudication can be granted. If the delay is too long, the adjustment request may be denied.
To learn more about retrogression, shifts in your priority date, call Herman Legal Group at 1 (800) 808-4013 or fill out our contact form to speak with us.