20 April 2007
Priority Date for Skilled Workers Moves Up But Visas For Domestics Run Out
By Reuben S. Seguritan, Esq.
The priority date for the worldwide and Philippine
employment-based third preference (EB-3) has moved
forward by about a year, according to the May 2007 Visa
Bulletin of the US State Department.
Benefiting under this latest visa report are skilled
workers or those individuals in positions that require a
minimum of two years of training or experience and
professionals or those who must possess a baccalaureate
degree or foreign equivalent.
On the other hand, the visa numbers for the “Other
Worker” sub-category of EB-3 was reported as unavailable
and will remain so for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Those included in this sub-category are nannies, adult
companions, general houseworkers, home health aides and
other unskilled workers with less than two (2) years of
training and work experiences.
Unskilled workers with a priority date earlier than
October 1, 2001 may still file for adjustment of status
before the end of April. They should rush their
application to get an employment authorization as well.
The EB-3 is probably the most commonly utilized category
for employment-based immigration because this covers a
wide range of jobs, including those that are considered
shortage occupations. Among those that are usually
included in this category are accountants, architects,
engineers, teachers, and medical professionals like
registered nurses (RNs) physical therapists (PTs).
According to the May 2007 Visa Bulletin, the immigrant
visa petitions with priority dates before August 1, 2003
will be processed starting May 1, which is a year
forward from the August 1, 2002 priority date being
processed in April 2007. This is good news to the
thousands of visa applicants whose deployment in the US
had been stalled by the visa retrogression.
Among those who will benefit are foreign RNs and PTs
whose Schedule A visa allocation had run out late last
year. This is particularly good news to the thousands of
skilled workers and professionals who are pining away at
the temporariness of their H-1B status.
In January 2005, the State Department announced that the
EB-3 category for India, China, Mexico and the
Philippines had regressed to January 1, 2002. This, in
effect, stretched the processing time for immigrant visa
applications by about 3 years.
The information on the priority dates being processed by
the State Department is updated on a monthly basis.
Eventually the retrogression affected not just the four
high-volume countries of origin (China, India, Mexico
and the Philippines), but already affected all EB-3
categories on a global scale.
Among the hardest hit when the retrogression occurred in
2005 were employers who recruited foreign RNs and PTs.
Congress heeded the call of US medical facilities and
passed a law directing the recapture of 50,000 unused
visas, specifically allocating them to Schedule A
workers such as RNs and PTs.
Congress is being pressured to address the ill effects
of retrogression by reconsidering the annual quotas.
Last March, STRIVE Act was introduced in the House and
it included provisions that would wipe out the
retrogression. Among these provisions are the increase
of EB visas from 140,000 to 290,000, the recapture of
unused visas from previous years and the exemption from
the numerical cap of Schedule A workers and
professionals with advanced degree.
Meanwhile, President George Bush had expressed his
intention to pass an immigration reform law within the
year. Hopefully the overhaul of the immigration system
will include realistic provisions that will enable the
US to bring in much-needed workers to make it globally
||REUBEN S. SEGURITAN has been practicing law for
over 30 years. He was former immigration editor and is author of a
book on immigrant experiences. He frequently speaks on immigrant
issues and for his advocacy efforts he was the recipient of two
presidential awards by President Ramos and an award by the
Commission on Filipinos Overseas. He previously taught business law
and international politics. For further information, you may call
him at 212 695 5281 or log on to his website at www.seguritan.com