Earlier this week, the DOS released the March visa bulletin. The EB2 category for persons born in India or China saw another significant advancement of 4 months whereas all other categories continue to see slow but steady movement forward.
In the January Visa Bulletin released by the DOS, EB2 numbers for India and China moved ahead over nine months making priority dates current for all of 2008 and before. It is interesting to note the Bulletin’s comments on the relatively few new I-485’s that have been filed in recent months in spite of the rapid forward movement of dates. I bet if they go ask anyone who had a vacation planned but then cancelled in the summer of 2007, they could explain it to them.
Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act by an overwhelming vote of 389-15. This bill would change the way employment-based (EB) green cards are allocated by eliminating the per country quotas. If the bill becomes law, it will equalize the waiting times for employment based permanent residence, which would result in significant advancement in EB green card availability for India and China. Unfortunately, it would also create retrogression for persons from other countries, specifically those in the EB2 category, who now enjoy a “current” status. The seven percent limit per country would be eliminated by 2015. Instead of separate queues for each country in each employment based green card category, there would be eventually be a single queue for each employment-based green card category.
Until 2015, per-country limits on green cards would still exist, but a certain number of immigrant visas would be immediately allocated to India and China and away from other countries. As a result, priority dates for India and China would quickly advance in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories. However, for other countries EB-2 could retrogress and EB-3 could see further retrogression. By 2015, the EB-2 and EB-3 categories would all be backlogged, but there would be a single priority date for all countries in each category.
Although, certainly not a perfect solution, this bill is a step in the right direction and corrects one glaring defect in the employment based green card system. It is hoped that the positive reaction that this bill received in the House would motivate other immigration bills including: special treatment for STEM and Schedule A occupations, an overall increase in the level of employment based immigration, the elimination of counting dependents toward the overall EB quota, a re-capture of unused immigrant visa numbers from prior fiscal years, and/or a market based approach to the H-1b quota. As this bill is considered by the Senate, it is hoped that further positive amendments could be added.
The bill will not become law until it passes the Senate and is signed by the President. We expect the Senate to take up this bill soon however, no time table has been set. We will keep you updated as developments occur.
The Department of State has released the December visa bulletin and EB2 India and PRC dates have surged ahead to March 15, 2008. This is a movement of over 4 months from the November bulletin and an almost 2 year improvement over the December 2010 bulletin. In spite of dire warnings from the DOS that a slowdown of movement and even possible retrogression is in store for the EB2 category, at least for now, there are smiles all around.
This week, the DOS released the November Visa Bulletin and the dates jumped once again for EB2 India and Chinese nationals but, remained painstakingly slow for all others. The National Foundation for American Policy recently released a study in which it calculated that the wait in the EB3 category had reached 70 years for Indian and Chinese nationals. Yes, that says 70 !
The DOS released the September Visa Bulletin and the EB2 categories for India and PRC showed no forward movement whereas the EB3 categories for all countries once again showed slow but, steady movement forward. It is not uncommon for the final Visa Bulletin of the fiscal year to show some slow-down or even retrogression so there should not be too much read into the lack of movement in Sept. dates for EB2 categories.
Recently, Erik Anderson, an immigration attorney and friend of our firm wrote a nice article calling for Congress to act to relieve the EB2 backlog for Indian nationals. Check out the full post here but, please return to our blog when you are finished reading.
The Department of State released the May visa bulletin and as promised, there was some forward movement in all categories including India EB2. Also included in the bulletin were predictions of future movement and an interesting (if you are an immigration attorney, an Indian national in the EB2 category or simply crazy about numbers) explanation on how the unused numbers from EB1 will trickle down to EB2, etc.
The Department of State has advised AILA that due to a lack of demand for the EB1 category, there will be a trickle down effect that will positively impact the Indian EB2 category and move dates forward. They estimate that an additonal 12,000 visas will be available to the Indian EB2 category. This is great news as this category has not moved since Sept of 2010 and the prior prediction from the DOS was that no movement should be expected in FY 2011. We expect to see this forward movement as early as the May Visa bulletin which will be released in mid April. This good news should not derail efforts for long-term legislative relief and reasonable wait times for all employment based categories.
The AAO, one of the Courts of Appeals in the immigration system, recently approved an EB2 I-140 for an individual with a full MS degree that had been attained following a 3 yr. Bachelor’s program. This is a major victory as the USCIS Service Center (particularly the Nebraska Service Center) had been issuing denials in such cases and had in fact, created their own policy, commonly referred to as the “6 year rule”, requiring that an individual have 6 years of education to gain EB2 approval when using the Masters degree standard. In the AAO decision, the Court ruled that if a credible education evaluator evaluates the Masters degree as the equivalent of a US Masters degree that the preceding education is not relevant. We praise the AAO for its decision striking down yet another, in a long line of Service Center policies that have no basis in any statute or regulation but, are simply overreaching examples of a bureaucracy run amok. It is not believed that there will be in effect on EB2 cases where the basis of the labor certification is a Bachelor’s plus 5 years of experience and the individual holds a 3 year bachelor’s degree. It should also be noted that the Service Centers routinely choose not to follow AAO decisions and your individual case may need to be litigated in order to achieve the desired result.