This post is to alert you of new developments that may affect you or your employees’ ability to file for green cards. It requires your immediate attention and action.
The U.S. State Department has released the Visa Bulletin for October 2020, and there is a significant development. Priority dates for the EB-3 category for skilled/professionals for Indian and Chinese nationals have advanced significantly and are now more advanced than the EB-2 advanced degree category.
Also, USCIS has stated that they will use the dates of filing (instead of final action dates) to allow people to file those green cards in October 2020.
For Chinese nationals, EB-2 advanced degree category has advanced to October 16, 2016, and the EB-3 category for skilled/professional advanced to June 1, 2018.
This means that you or your employees who could not file I-485s (green card applications) before (because you were waiting on priority dates to become current) may be eligible to do so now.
Employees with approved I-140s in the EB-2 category would need to file a new I-140 in the EB-3 category concurrently with their I-485s (This “downgrade” is allowed).
The advantages of filing the green card application now are that you may save on fees on renewing nonimmigrant visas each time. This is because the employee will get an EAD (work card) a few months after we file (although we usually still recommend renewing them to maintain valid nonimmigrant status until the green card is approved). The employee may also receive an advance parole document as part of this filing and may travel abroad with it and return without a visa.
Currently, consulates abroad are closed due to COVID, and visa stamping appointments are not being scheduled for 2021. This means overseas travel without a current visa is not possible. Also, the employee may have a spouse (or children) who cannot work in the U.S. This filing for their family members will allow them to work once an EAD is approved for them.
This may be a small window of opportunity as the dates may not be available in November or after. At this time, we have no idea how long this availability will last.
Our recommendation is to file in October, to avoid losing the chance to file and possibly having to wait years again. It is also foreseeable that the dates for final action for green cards could retrogress significantly after October due to the number of applications likely to be submitted, which means that the actual green cards would still take many years to be approved. You need to act now as this opportunity may not be available in November and beyond.