** THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON TO MAKE ANY LEGAL DETERMINATION OF CURRENT VISA STATUS OR FUTURE VISA DECISIONS
Although a non-immigrant visa holder (F-1 for example) from any country can file an immigrant visa petition (EB3 for example), non-immigrant visa holders cannot file an I-485 change of status unless they reside from a country that has an available visa allocation at the time of the filing. Currently those countries that do not have a visa allocation available include India and China. Therefore, non-immigrant visa holders can apply for immigrant visas, but they must process their applications from their home countries through Consular Processing and will not be admitted to the US as an immigrant until a visa allocation for their country becomes available. This date is known as the “Priority Date.” Sometimes, this is referred to as a “backlog,” meaning more people are applying for immigrant visas than the US has offered quotas for visas from that country. In other words, if the non-immigrant visa holder is from a country that does not have a current “Priority Date," he cannot file an I-485 change of status application and therefore must process his immigrant visa application from his home country through Consular Processing. If a non-immigrant visa holder applies for an immigrant visa, he will be announcing his intent to migrate to the United States. Once a non-immigrant visa holder announces his intent to migrate, he will no longer qualify for any non-immigrant visa programs. For non-immigrant visa holders from a country that does not have a current priority date, this could force him to return home while he processes his immigrant visa and remain at home until his priority date arrives. In the case of India, China and the Philippines this could be as long as a decade. Although GPS’s Sponsors do not discriminate against anyone for any reason, GPS has elected not to provide its services to immigrant visa applicants from countries that do not have a current priority date because GPS’s services would be unaffordable if GPS maintained the application for a period of more than 3 years.