More on Immigrant Visa Delays for Certain Filipino, Chinese and Indian Professionals
December 22, 2004

If you are a “professional” or “skilled worker” from the Philippines, China or India and are just starting the U.S. immigrant visa petition process or your immigrant visa filing is now pending, chances are you will be impacted by recent U.S. State Department news of limited availability of visas in certain employment based categories. The news applies to professionals and skilled workers from the Philippines, China and India, and workers affected include most types of health care workers (e.g. registered nurse, physical therapists, medical technologists, etc) and other professionals such as engineers, programmers and teachers.

According to the most recent U.S. State Department Visa Bulletin (January, 2005), as of January 1, 2005, a “cut- off” date of January 1, 2002 has been established for the Employment Based, Third Preference (also known as “EB-3”) category for professionals and skilled workers from the above countries. The reason: there are only a limited number of visas available yearly for this category, and the demand for such visas, particularly from these countries, has significantly outnumbered the supply. That means, only applicants whose immigrant visa petitions were filed prior to January 1, 2002, can expect to receive their immigrant visa in the coming months. The same is true for applicants undergoing processing in the U.S. (adjustment of status applicants), except that those whose cases are already pending continue to be eligible for employment authorization while they await visa availability.

The Impact on New or Pending Applicants: for those waiting overseas, visa issuance will likely be delayed 6 to 12 months as a result of the establishment of this new cutoff date.

Also significantly impacted by the new cutoff date are prospective applicants who are present in the U.S. and who were planning to start the permanent resident process in the coming months. For example, after January 1, 2005, although an I-140 petition can be commenced on behalf of certain eligible registered nurses or physical therapists, applications for adjustment of status and employment authorization cannot – that is until visas become available. As a result, such applicants will not have immediate eligibility for employment authorization and will have to worry about maintaining lawful status while awaiting visa availability. Individuals with adjustment of status applications already pending by January 1, 2005, again, do not have to worry since they will continue to be eligible to receive and renew their employment authorization while they await further processing and visa availability.

In a recent communication to representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the State Department has stated that movement in visa availability can be expected by March or April, 2005. How much movement will take place is anyone’s guess.

Newsflash: CIS Chicago Scheduling AOS Interviews Within 8 Months of Filing

CIS Chicago, by way of CIS’ new National Benefits Center in Missouri, is scheduling Chicago area applicants for permanent residence (also known as I-485, “adjustment of status”) for interview within only 8 months from the date of filing. This is a substantial improvement from the 2 ½ year wait applicants in the Chicago area have been facing in the past couple years. Individuals most impacted are foreign nationals already present in the U.S. and applying for permanent residence based on their marriage to a U.S. citizen or who are visa petition beneficiaries with a current priority date.

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