By: Attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Joseph I. Elias
In a previous article we discussed the availability of additional green card visa numbers for Registered Nurses (RNs) and Physical Therapists (PTs) under the Real I.D. Act. We informed readers that that immigrant visa processing for Filipino RNs and PTs overseas, and adjustment of status applications for those in the U.S., would soon be available. Earlier this month the State Department published visa numbers and announced that the Visa Numbers for RN’s and PTs are now current and available.
This means that RNs and PTs who had to wait approximately three years or longer due to the recent retrogression can now start processing their green card applications again. Many RNs and PTs in the U.S. who filed their adjustment of status applications before January 1, 2005 were placed in a holding pattern waiting for visa numbers to become available. The CIS will now complete these applications and start approving green cards. Consular processing of immigrant visas will also now resume since there are sufficient visas to meet the current demand for RN and PT visas.
The State Department has predicted, however that the demand for these visas will soon exceed the supply available for Indian and Chinese nationals. For the time being there are sufficient visas available for Filipinos, but due to the critical shortage of nurses and physical therapists, visa numbers will run out unless Congress allocates substantially higher quotas.
Unfortunately, the State Department’s Visa Bulletin for July 2005 shows that visas for Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers known as the Employment Based Category 3 (EB3) have became unavailable worldwide. The demand for these visas has exceeded the yearly allocation to such an extent that no numbers are available. In prior months, the intense demand resulted in an approximately three-year waiting list. The demand now is so high that the State Department cannot even accommodate a waiting list. Typical occupations affected by this include accountants, bookkeepers, engineers, administrative assistants, medical technologists, programmers, systems analysts, cooks, chefs, carpenters, wholesalers, secretaries, budget analysts, etc. This list is not exclusive and there are a host of other occupations for which there are no visas available.
Visas should become available again in the next fiscal year which begins on October 1, 2005. The new fiscal year will see a resumption of the waiting list which may extend further back than three years. The CIS will accept adjustment of status applications before July 1, 2005 for those Filipinos whose priority date is June 1, 2002 or earlier. Those who can file before July 1, 2005 should because no applications will be accepted until October.
Filipino EB3 (other than RNs and PTs) immigrants who have a priority date earlier than June 1, 2002 should file their applications for adjustment of status now. Due to the complexity and rapidly changing laws, we recommend that all employment based applicants retain an experienced and trustworthy immigration attorney to represent them in these matters.