Visa Bulletin Update
The State Department has released it's latest Visa Bulletin announcing the retrogression of EB-1 and EB-2. Last month, the State Department warned that the EB-1 and EB-2 numbers would roll backwards for Chinese and Indian nationals "no later than December" but the retrogression this month still will catch many by surprise. The numbers in these categories have been current for many years.
Earlier this year, the EB-3 numbers retrogressed and all new applications for all nationalities in the EB-3 category were rejected in September with the category receiving the "U" label for a category whose numbers are unavailable.
The new cutoff dates take effect beginning October 1st so some people may be able to file adjustment applications before that date and have those applications at least in process so that one has the right to employment authorization and travel documentation while they wait on the dates to advance.
The rollbacks are dramatic. For Chinese nationals applying in the EB-1 category, the State Department is only processing cases filed before January 2000. For Indian nationals, the rollback is to August 2002. Other EB-1 nationalities remain current.
For the EB-2 category, Chinese applicants will only be processed if they have priority dates earlier than May 2000. For Indians, the application must have been filed before November 1999. Realistically speaking, very few Indians and Chinese will have cases filed earlier than either of these dates.
The EB-3 category has been taken out of the "U" status of last month, but the numbers are still seriously backlogged. All nationalities (except Indian, Chinese, Filipino and Mexican) are backlogged to March 2001. Chinese EB-3 applicants have a May 2000 cutoff (the same as the EB-2 category). Indians have a cutoff of January 1998, a date earlier than most H-1B applicants even entered the country. Mexicans and Filipinos are rolled back to 2001.
We remind readers that it is very important to speak to your immigration lawyer about the timing of applying for a green card. Because waits now could run into several years, a failure to begin the process early on could create serious problems later.
For readers on H-1B status, the ability to extend H-1B status in one year increments is still possible based on the date when the green card application process (either the labor certification or the I-140) is FILED. So the retrogression does not affect one's ability to maintain non-immigrant status. Also note that adjustment and H-1B portability is still permitted even during periods of retrogression. Again, check with your immigration counsel.
For information on priority dates and understanding the State Department Visa Bulletin, go to http://www.visalaw.com/04dec2/2dec204.html.
The current State Department Bulletin can be found at /govttimes/department-of-state-employment.shtm.
Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.