In September of 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started to allow those with an approved immigrant visa petition to file I-485 applications according to the Dates for Filing Applications chart. The dates on this chart are the earliest dates that a person can file an I-485 application; USCIS stated that these dates may be used when they determine that there are enough immigrant visas available to accommodate the filing of additional I-485 applications. The benefit of filing according to the date on the Dates for Filing Applications chart is that the dates on the Dates for Filing Applications chart are often much earlier as compared to the dates on the Application Final Action Dates chart; as such, many applicants have been able to file I-765 and I-131 applications with their I-485 applications and thus receive an employment authorization document (EAD) or advance parole travel document much earlier. This was especially beneficial for our clients with approved EB-1 petitions, since the priority dates for the EB-1 category have retrogressed for all countries.
However, USCIS has more recently indicated that, given current trends and the number of visas available, they anticipate that applicants will need to file their I-485 applications in accordance with the dates on the Final Action Date chart and not the Dates for Filing Applications chart. While USCIS has not indicated precisely when this change will go into effect, it could happen as early as February 2019. People with an approved immigrant visa petition—especially an approved EB-1 petition—should continue to monitor both the Dates for Filing Applications chart and the Final Action Date chart to determine if they are eligible to file an I-485. Those who are able to file an I-485 based on the dates in the Dates for Filing Applications chart should strongly consider filing their I-485 sooner rather than later in order to take advantage of the potentially earlier date.