The US State Department Visa Bulletin is highly anticipated each month and shows which applicants in the employment-based and family-based categories have an immigrant visa available. Each month USCIS publishes an update informing the public which of the two charts, the “Date for Filing” chart, or the “Final Action Date” chart controls whether an applicant’s priority date is current and accordingly, whether they are eligible to apply for Adjustment of Status (AOS) that month. Tracking the bulletin so you are aware of when a visa is available for your clients is essential to ensure you’re applying for their AOS in a timely manner.
It does mean that someone in your firm likely has to check the visa bulletin as soon as it comes out, which for a busy lawyer without much support staff, may become one more thing to keep up with in your seemingly endless list of tasks. Moreover, you have to go client-by-client to figure out who may be eligible to finally submit their AOS application.
This inefficiency prompted us to go to the drawing board and ultimately build a tracking tool for the visa bulletin into Docketwise’s platform to make case tracking even easier. By including visa bulletin tracking into each of your eligible cases on Docketwise, you are able to stay on top of eligibility for your clients and file in a prompt manner to get the process rolling. You should know that you can use this tracking feature in both new and existing clients you have on your Docketwise database.
Here is why tracking the visa bulletin is important and how our visa bulletin tracking system works.
Why does timely visa bulletin tracking matter?
There are two main reasons why it’s important to track your clients’ status on the visa bulletin:
- Helping clients get started with their Adjustment of Status application: Adjusting status is a crucial stepping stone toward permanent residency in the United States. And given that AOS requires a separate application process with which your clients will likely need your support, keeping track of the date means you can better communicate it with your clients and better ensure that they choose your firm to help them with it.
- Maintaining consistent and relevant follow ups with your clients: Taking the step to ensure that you as a lawyer are keeping up with your clients’ status updates shows your commitment to your clients; that you are available and aware of the importance of being timely in your follow ups. As a business owner, taking an action such as tracking the visa bulletin shows your understanding of a customer’s lifetime value and the potential work one client could bring you throughout their immigration journey, their family members or professional referrals.
How to add visa bulletin tracking to your cases on Docketwise for current Docketwise users
Cutoff dates from the visa bulletin are updated toward the end of each month in Docketwise for the upcoming month. To set visa bulletin tracking in Docketwise, you’ll need to add the Priority Date and the Preference Category for each matter. After adding that information for each matter, you can receive in-app notifications, which you can check under the bell icon on the top-right of your Docketwise screen.
To set Priority Date tracking, you can either create a matter or edit an existing matter. To create a new matter, click on Create New on your Docketwise dashboard, and add the priority date and preference category for your case. To save your changes, click on Create Matter. For existing matters, you’d be updating existing information instead of creating a separate matter. Simply go to the Matter you want to update by finding it by name, and click on Update Matter Details under the Matter name to enter the priority date and the preference category, and finish by clicking Update Matter.
Tracking visa bulletin status after adding priority date
Once you add the priority date to your cases on Docketwise, you’re not only able to track updates from the visa bulletin, but those updates occur in real time. You can see these updates on the Case Tracking tab of either the Matter Overview page or the Contact Overview page. Both of these pages will have a Case Tracking tab that will break down the Visa Bulletin update into four pieces of information: preference category, priority date, priority date case status (the most important, since this is where updates will show when your client’s priority date becomes current), and the name of the matter as it’s saved on your Docketwise database.
Using reports to organize your caseload
At different points in time, you may find yourself with multiple cases with a priority date that becomes current, which will necessitate some organizing to ensure you are completing timely filings. To help you stay organized, you can create a report using the Create New button on your dashboard, and choosing the Report option, then selecting Matter Reports and selecting Matters by Preference Category.
This report option organizes every case you have with a current priority date by preference category, which can help you organize your case work by categories and address all filings of the same category. It also allows you to see which cases in your docket don’t have a current priority date so you can anticipate next steps on your work based on what you are seeing in the visa bulletin.
Visa bulletin tracking is part of your immigration law toolkit with Docketwise
The ability to track the visa bulletin in real time for each of your immigration cases is only one of the many features Docketwise includes to make your immigration casework more efficient and easy to track. From a comprehensive forms library covering every immigration case, to built-in communication tools for easy client contact and leads outreach, Docketwise consolidates the work of immigration lawyers in one place.