Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) November 5, 2015 - The Department of State (DOS) has retracted the Visa Bulletin of Sept. 9, 2015, which listed a set of filing dates for which immigrants could apply for an adjustment of status or immigration visa.
A revised Visa Bulletin has moved these dates further back in time — the EB-2 Priority Date is now July 1, 2009. If an individual’s priority date is after that date, they cannot file in October. Additionally, the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) suspended all employment applications for all countries until Oct. 1, 2015 as they had used their entire quota. As a result, hundreds of thousands of immigrants instantly became victims of government indifference and mismanagement.
“This isn’t the first time something like that has happened,” said respected Houston immigration attorney, Annie Banerjee. “It happened in 2007 when USCIS and the DOS issued a visa bulletin, retracted it, and then approved it again, all within a month’s time frame. Who knows if this is going to happen again? It’s simply not fair.”
In early September 2015, the visa bulletin that had a new, second set of dates. The first set of dates was relevant to those who could be approved for permanent residence. The second set, greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm and hope, were dates for those who, while not currently approvable, could file for adjustment of status to be approved in the near future. In some cases the difference between filing and final action dates was several years. Furthermore, the second set of dates meant those who could file for adjustment of status could then get work permits and/or travel papers not linked to an employer/spouse. This action was seen as a nod to President Obama’s prior executive action, a partial fulfillment of his promises.
“Instead of fulfilling the President’s promise, USCIS and the DOS changed the dates they would accept for filing. In other words, in less than three weeks from the initial release of the first visa bulletin with the exciting changes and new filing dates, the rug was pulled out from under hundreds of thousands of people who had now suddenly become ineligible to apply. Visagate looked like a new take on the bait and switch con,” said Banerjee.
It was not long before the immigration bar mustered a cadre of seriously concerned attorneys who brought a class action lawsuit against the USCIS, DOS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Even the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers offered its assistance. Part of the lawsuit strategy is requesting a temporary restraining order to permit immigrants to file applications while the court deliberates on the matter.
Additionally, other lawsuits are also being prepared. A petition has been launched to provide any individuals with an interest in having the original October visa bulletin dates restored in a way to advocate for fairness. The petition may be found here: (https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/uscis-and-dos-changed-priority-dates-categories-all-sudden-and-causing-financial-and-mental-loss.
“There is a good chance grassroots advocacy will work again this time,” said Banerjee. “It worked in 2007 when a visa bulletin with favorable dates was issued, revised/retracted and eventually restored. It can work again.”
Law Offices of Annie Banerjee
131 Brooks Street, Suite #300
Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Phone: (281) 242-9139