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Priority Dates under Employment-Based Immigration May Become Current By End of 2014


After the elections in November 2014, President Obama may announce an executive order redefining the count for green cards, which would mean that the priority dates for employment-based Green Cards would become current and the last step of the green card application process – I-485 – can be filed for foreign workers with approved I-140s.

The U.S. immigration system puts a limit on the number of immigrant visas (i.e. green card) that can be granted to aliens in a given year. The annual numerical limit for the employment-based preference categories is 140,000. You may not file an I-485 adjustment of status application until your priority date becomes current. Immigrant visas for high-demand countries such as India and China are heavily backlogged. The current practice of the Department of State is to count the principal Beneficiaries and their dependent spouses and children toward the annual limit. The result of this practice is that many Beneficiaries will have to wait years before they can apply for a green card. The President’s executive order will change the practice so that only the principal Beneficiaries will be counted toward the annual limit. As a result, visa backlogs in the employment-based preference categories will be eliminated and the priority dates will become current.

Three months ago, the President promised to take unilateral measures by the end of this summer if Congress fails to act on immigration reform. During a speech in June, he said, "If Congress won't do their job, at least we can do ours." However, President Obama has decided to postpone the executive action on immigration reform until after the midterm elections in November.

We anticipate that the President will take executive action by the end of this year. If the executive action goes into effect by the year’s end, there will likely be a surge in I-485 filings, which will cause significant delays in USCIS’s processing of the I-485 applications. We therefore advise that applicants should have the I-485 application ready well in advance so that they can be filed as soon as the President’s executive action goes into effect. If you need assistance in completing your I-485 application and thereafter preparing the AC21 documentation, please call our office at (408) 436-1010 or email us at and see how we can help you.

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