U.S. Immigration Q and A

20 April 2007 


Priority Date for Skilled Workers Moves Up But Visas For Domestics Run Out

By Reuben S. Seguritan, Esq.

Statue of Liberty 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 competitive.

Reuben S. Seguritan 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
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