The USCIS has announced that it will not honor the Department of State "Dates for Filing" chart contained in the October Visa Bulletin. Instead, they will utilize the "Final Action Date" chart and only accept 485 filings that have a priority date that is current using said chart.
The Department of State (DOS) has recently released the October Visa Bulletin. This is a critical bulletin as it is the first bulletin for the new fiscal year and provides a glimpse into expectation of priority date movement for the entire fiscal year. In spite of speculation to the contrary, the bulletin includes both the final action and dates for filing charts. We expect the USCIS to announce within the next 2 weeks which chart they will use for October I-485 filings. As expected, the temporary retrogression experienced in a number of categories in August and September were resolved and returned to current and/or positive advancement.
Recently, the USCIS began to deny advance parole applications if the person traveled internationally while the AP application was pending. For many years, the USCIS had continued to adjudicate and approve AP's if you traveled as long as you were on an H or L visa however, that policy has now changed (without any notice). The American Immigration Lawyers Assoc. (AILA) contacted USCIS HQ and they responded with "the denials were proper; the policy is that traveling internationally while an application for advance parole is pending will result in the denial of that application notwithstanding prior practice to the contrary" Please be aware of this change.
In the January Visa Bulletin released by the DOS, EB2 numbers for India and China moved ahead over nine months making priority dates current for all of 2008 and before. It is interesting to note the Bulletin's comments on the relatively few new I-485's that have been filed in recent months in spite of the rapid forward movement of dates. I bet if they go ask anyone who had a vacation planned but then cancelled in the summer of 2007, they could explain it to them.
The USCIS has announced that it will now begin issuing employment authorization documents and advance parole documents on a single card for certain I-485 applicants. The card looks similar to the current employment authorization document (EAD) but includes a text that reads, "Serves as I-512 Advance Parole". Employers may accept the new card as a List A document when completing the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. To receive the single card, an applicant must file for EAD and Advance Parole at the same time. An applicant, who already has an EAD and AP, can apply for the single card only if: (1) the current EAD has less than 120 days validity left; and (2) the Advance Parole has less than 120 days validity date or is for a single entry. Generally the single card will be valid for one or two years, depending upon the availability of an immigrant visa although USCIS retains the discretion to issue it for a shorter period or a longer period depending upon the circumstances of the particular case.