Update on ‘Visagate’ Filing Date Fiasco: Temporary Restraining Order Denied
On October 7, 2015, a judge rejected a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in a class action challenging a new change to the October Visa Bulletin. By moving many filing dates back, the update to the bulletin radically restricted a previously announced benefit offered by a revised procedure for determining immigrant visa availability and filing adjustment of status applications. The class action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle on September 28, 2015.
The complaint noted that in the absence of relief, plaintiffs and class members, “who have spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars preparing adjustment applications in reasonable reliance on the binding agency policy statements DOS published, will be irreparably harmed and left without any remedy for Defendants’ unlawful actions.” The complaint asks the court to declare, among other things, that the September 24 revision of the October 2015 Visa Bulletin constitutes unlawful agency action in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL) filed a declaration supporting the complaint, and individual ABIL lawyers also filed declarations as experts. ABIL also plans to file an amicus brief in the litigation.
Varied explanations for the latest change, which some are calling “Visagate,” were floated. For example, in a statement announcing the change, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) explained that following consultations with the Department of Homeland Security, the dates for filing applications for some categories in the family-sponsored and employment-based preferences were adjusted “to better reflect a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process.” USCIS also reportedly said that the agency was correcting a mistake and there was no way it could comply with the law without fixing the bulletin. USCIS also said that a retrogression in cut-off dates was not accounted for when the first October bulletin was issued.
- Attorneys for the plaintiffs have set up a Facebook page to track the litigation
- The order denying the TRO
- The class action complaint (PDF)
- The USCIS announcement
- The latest chart, along with information on when to file
- The November Visa Bulletin (PDF)