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May 30, 2005
Demystifying the EB-3 Retrogression
- Atty. Reuben S. Seguritan Email this article

The US is currently in the throes of a critical health worker shortage. The US Department of Labor has identified RN as the top occupation in terms of job growth through 2012. The nursing shortage is so serious that tens of thousands of hospital deaths have reportedly been attributed to it.


In the meantime, the Philippines, arguably the world’s largest exporter of human labor is churning out thousands of nursing graduates who are willing and able to fill the US demand for their services.


So if supply is willing to meet demand, why are Filipino nurses having a hard time coming to the US now?




As early as October 2004, the Department of State already flagged the probability of retrogression. This has been widely misunderstood as a law or regulation passed to restrict the entry of foreign workers.


Retrogression is actually a means by which the Department of State copes with the oversubscription of immigrant visa numbers allotted by law for a particular category and a particular country. 


Since the Philippines is one of the largest suppliers of nurses to the US over the past several years, the increased demand for immigrant visa numbers resulted in the oversubscription of its employment-based third preference (EB3).


When immigrant visa numbers are oversubscribed, as what happened with the EB3 category for the Philippines, India and China, the Department of State imposes a cut-off date beyond which immigrant visa applications will not be processed until visa numbers become available or “current.”

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