Visa numbers for Filipino workers under the employment-based third preference category (EB-3) will be available in July, according to a State Department release yesterday.
The availability of the visa numbers means the visa processing for EB-3 professional and skilled workers from the Philippines, including RNs and PTs, will resume by July and the eventual deployment of these foreign workers will not suffer further delay.
EB-3 workers who are in the US waiting for visa availability will also be able to apply for adjustment of status beginning July.
The availability of the visa numbers puts an end, at least temporarily, to the retrogression that has stalled the deployment of skilled Filipino workers to the US since January 2005.
Retrogression occurs when the demand for immigrant visa numbers exceed the available numbers for a given year. In such a case, the State Department fixes a cut-off priority date, and cases with priority dates falling on or after the prescribed cut-off will not be processed.
Filipino healthcare workers in shortage occupations like registered nurses (RNs) and physical therapists (PTs) were spared briefly from the retrogression by the legislated recapture of 50,000 unused visas on May 11, 2005.
The deployment of Filipino RNs and PTs , however, was halted when the unused visas were exhausted in
November 2006, subjecting these shortage occupations to the EB-3 retrogression as well.
The July 2007 Visa Bulletin issued by the State Department, however, warns about the possibility that not all employment preferences will remain “current” (meaning, visa numbers are available) for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends September 2007.
The State Department cautioned that retrogression could re-occur in September for EB-3 workers from major sending countries like mainland China, India and the Philippines when the demand for visa numbers become heavy in the coming months. It also said “severe cut-off retrogression could occur in early Fiscal Year 2008,” beginning October, 2007.
In contrast, visa numbers for the “Other Worker” category worldwide will be unavailable in July again.
Visa availability for this category, which includes adult companions, personal aides, home health aides, general housekeepers or child monitors, had been alternately unavailable and retrogressed the past several months.
The unavailability of the visa numbers for “Other Workers” means foreign workers in this category currently in the US will not be able to apply for adjustment of status, while those who are outside the US will have to wait for their priority dates to come up.
CRISTINA A. GODINEZ is a Manhattan-based attorney and is the lawyers’ representative of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), the national umbrella group of Filipino American organizations. For comments or questions, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.