Archive for the ‘Retrogression’ Category

Update on Retrogression

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Many Filipino nurses still have questions about retrogression. Several groups of immigration attorneys are quite optimistic that retrogression will be solved in the near future.  They say that by early April of this year the Senate will introduce a revised Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).  This will include the same Schedule A exemption that the Senate passed in the Spring of 2006.  The revised CIR could be acted on in the next few weeks or drag on indefinitely.

The last year’s version of CIR included the Brownback
amendment.  If the Senate’s CIR includes the Brownback amendment and is introduced in a few week, this would be the most significant step since the retrogression started. Once the Senate takes action, the House would likely follow shortly thereafter.
President Bush would almost certainly sign the legislation.

Possible Further Retrogression

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

retrogress.jpg

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin for March 2007 is identical
to the January and February 2007 Visa Bulletins for the Employment-Based
categories. It also contained a prediction with respect to EB3, stating that
little, if any, forward movement is expected in the near future. In fact, it
is possible that EB3 will retrogress even further.


All countries have cutoff dates. India remains at May 8, 2001 and Mexico is
at May 15, 2001. China, the Philippines, and worldwide continue to have
cutoff dates of August 1, 2002.


 

As stated, the Visa Bulletin predicts that EB3 is unlikely to move forward
in the near future, and that any potential forward movement will be small.
The DOS notes that the demand for visa numbers with priority dates before
the August 2002 cutoff is expected to remain high, because both the
Department of Labor (DOL) and the USCIS are working to clear case backlogs.
These backlog reduction efforts could cause the dates to retrogress even
further in the second or third quarter of 2007.


Predictions for the future, which are not positive, all pertain to EB3 and
are described above. The cutoff dates for the limited supply of visa numbers
are based on actual and anticipated demand for those numbers. This demand
for numbers is, to a large extent, being fueled by the approval of older
labor certifications through the DOL Backlog Processing Centers.

To view the March 2007 Visa Bulletin, click here .

Is H-1C the answer to visa retrogression?

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

areas.jpg
The H-1C is a visa classification under the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Reauthorization Act of 2005.  It applies to a foreign worker coming to the US to temporarily perform services as a registered nurse in a health professional shortage area as determined by the United States Department of Labor.  Since this Act only responds to the needs of the disadvantaged areas, only 500 nurses can be granted H-1C status in a fiscal year nationally. Each state has a numerical limitation based on its population.  If the population of the state is more than 9 million, the cap for that state is 50 per fiscal year.  Then if it is 9 million or less, the cap will be 25 per fiscal year. 

The H-1C visa program has been reauthorized and extended for 3 years to provide non-immigrant nurses to disadvantaged states in the US.  The H-1C nurse is allowed to work for a 3-year period. An extension may be received by the H-1C nurse to complete the 3-year period of admission. However, an extension of stay may not be granted to extend the H-1C nurse’s period of admission beyond the initial 3-year period of time.  Just like the H-1B status, the H-1C nurses’ spouses or unmarried children under 21 years of age are entitled to H-4 status with the same restrictions as the principal.  Dependents may not be employed under the H-4 classification.

Some of the terms and conditions of the H-1C classification includes:

  • Work authorization for H-1C nurses is employer-specific, which means it is limited to employment with the approved employer/petitioner;
  • A change of employer requires a new H-1C petition; new employment (any employment other than the originally approved employment)  cannot begin until a petition for change of employment (Form I-129) is approved by the USCIS.  If an H-1C non-immigrant nurse will work for more then one employer, each employer must file its own H-1C petition on the nurse’s behalf;
  • An H-1C nurse is not precluded from applying for adjustment of status to permanent residence if the nurse is otherwise eligible for adjustment of status;
  • More than one nurse may be included on an H-1C petition.

Good News: Non-immigrant visa, H-1C, is back and now available for Filipino nurses

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

h1c.jpg
In our December articles, Non-immigrant work visa for Filipino Nurses and The US needs a special visa for Filipino Nurses, we discussed the H-1C visa classification, which was created in 1999 to relieve the nursing shortage in the US but which had expired in 2005.  However, due to the increased shortage in nursing and the retrogression of immigrant visas, which the regular temporary work visa or H-1B can not accommodate, the United States has finally made a move to address the problem in the nursing shortage.

Today, February 12th,  the Department of Labor announces the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Reauthorization Act 2005.  The reauthorization took effect on December 20, 2006.  This Act reauthorized the H-1C non-immigrant nurses program, a program originally created by the Nursing Relief
for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999.  The program allows employers to file attestations with the Department of Labor, Office of the Labor Certification (OFLC).

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the eligible hospitals are the same ones listed in the Department of Labor’s Interim Final Rule implementing its portion of the H-1C program published on August 22, 2000.  The OFLC is now accepting applications by qualified hospitals.  They can use the expired ETA 9081 form until the Department of Budget approves a new form. Once the attestation is approved, it will support non-immigrant worker petitions filed with the USCIS.

The can find the content of the Act here .

A Chance for a New Set of Immigrant Visas and Retrogression relief for Filipino Nurses

Friday, February 9th, 2007

us_congress.jpg
On January 4th, the new US Congress started its session and one of the first items on their agenda was to outlined the prospects for a 2007 immigration bill.  Although a specific provision for nurses was not mentioned,  the US government assures that retrogression relief is definitely on the agenda.  We can now say that there is a much better chance for retrogression relief happening in 2007 than when it first began in November of 2006.

Most immigration lawyers as well as health care workers under the Schedule A Worker Visa are hoping for a Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) that will exempt the Schedule A Worker from the immigrant visa cap.  The draft of the bill includes an allocation of 25,000 to 90,000 immigrant visas to the Schedule A Worker by the end of the first quarter of this year, and once the bill is passed all the Schedule A Worker will be exempted from the green card quota.  This would mean an unlimited allocation of immigrant visas to our Filipino nurses.

We must be aware that passing an immigration bill is a long process and needs a lot of funding.  This proposed CIR may sound like a big relief on the retrogression issue and for the future demand for nursing, but it also does not sound very realistic.  The exemption from green card quota of the Schedule A Worker will need a lot of considerations to protect the US government and its people.  Otherwise, everybody would just become a nurse or a Physical Therapist to be able to move to the US.  However, if this bill will be considered in the Congress, this will require a lengthy discussion and several revisions before it will be passed hopefully by the year 2009.

For now, there is a growing chance of recapturing as many as 90,000 immigrant visas unused from 2000 to 2004 if the first part of the proposed bill is passed this Spring.  This is our best chance to be temporarily relieved from the problem on retrogression.

The US Congress needs to act on the retrogression of visas

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Since the retrogression of visas started on November 1, 2006, many Filipino nurses have had their immigrant visa petitions pending.  No one can tell right now for how long it will be pending, but the immigration lawyers are anticipating a five to six years waiting period before immigrant visas will become available.

Now, some Filipino nurses are considering other countries to work, because even if the non-immigrant working visa is available, it is still limited and can not accommodate them all.  For this reason, the US employers are worried about losing Filipino nurses.  Michael Le Monier, CEO of MedPro Staffing in Fort Lauderdale, said " It is estimated that 15 percent of nurses serving sick Americans are foreign-born.  These professionals are in very short supply [and] you will see impending shortages of 800,000 to 1,200,000 nurses by 2014."

Recently, over 900 employers signed a letter complaining to the Congress about the problems in the immigration rules. They warned the Congress that unless the immigration rules are relaxed, the United States will lose the race in the increasingly global economy.

It is not only the Filipino nurses who are affected by the problems caused by the retrogression of visas, but the delays are also hurting the United States.  It is a fact that Americans prefer Filipino nurses to care for them, and the United States can not fill their shortage in nursing.  The Congress should act on the problems caused by the retrogression of visas, otherwise more and more companies and employers will complain and the economy of the US will suffer.

Priority Dates are moving backwards

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

usnurse.jpg
It is very frustrating to know that the priority dates keep moving backwards.  In the article, Retrogression of Priority Dates began on November 1st, we learned that the immigrant visas for Filipino Nurses have retrogressed to October 1, 2005.  However, we mentioned the importance of checking the  Visa Bulletin from time to time, as the priority dates change every month.  The priority dates set for each month are based on the report of consular officers on the number of qualified applicants for numerically limited visas.

For January 2007,  the priority dates for Filipino Nurses (Schedule A Worker) has retrogressed again further.  It has moved backwards to June 15, 2004.  That means they have to finish giving two years worth of immigrant visas first before they can issue a new one.  It could also mean another two years of waiting before one can apply for an immigrant visa.  We don’t really know how long this will retrogression last, and if the priority dates will continue to retrogress more.

Retrogression  will create even more problems if the US will not do something about it.  Some consequences of further retrogression can be:

  • H-1B cap will be filled easily.
  • H-1B has a high tendency to retrogress.
  • More and more Filipino Nurses will be lining up for the next issuance of immigrant visas.
  • Once the retrogression ceases, another retrogression is awaiting due to the bulk of applicants waiting for the immigrant visa availability.
  • Retrogression will remain a problem.

The US will surely find a way to resolve this problem of retrogression.  They have no choice, because the Philippines is one of their biggest sources of Registered Nurses.  And they are admitting that they can not supply enough nurses on their own.

It’s only been a couple of months since the retrogression started.  Check the Visa Bulletin each month for the changes in priority dates.  We can hope that the priority dates for Filipino Nurses will be current soon.

The US needs a special visa for Filipino Nurses

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Becoming a nurse in the US has now become very competitive due to the retrogression of visas.  More and more Filipino Nurses are now anxious to apply for the non-immigrant work visa as the immigrant visa has become temporarily unavailable.  Employers in the US are taking as many non-immigrant work visas available for them to fill their nursing shortage. However, there is a truth that Filipino Nurses and US employers have to accept;  Non-immigrant work visa will soon diminish as well, until both immigrant visa and non-immigrant work visa are not available for Filipino Nurses for a period of time. 

The only good thing about the non-immigrant work visa is that the US replenishes the number of visas to be given to each country per year.  It is the same with the immigrant visa, except for the fact that there are thousands of immigrant petitions already lined up for the new set of visas.  As of now, the non-immigrant work visa can still accommodate the Filipino Nurses every year, but who knows if the non-immigrant work visa will also retrogress with so many nursing spots to be filled.. 

Retrogression of both immigrant and non-immigrant work visas can be viewed as an opportunity in a way.  If both visas for Filipino Nurses become unavailable for a period of time, the US health care system will be effected.  They are relying on Filipino Nurses to fill their nursing shortage, which continues to grow.  Filipino Nurses remain to be in demand.  We can hope that the US will create another visa classification just for foreign nurses.  Like how H-1A and H-1C visas were created when the US was unable to support their nursing shortage before.  This was stated in the previous article, Non-immigrant work visa for Filipino Nurses.

Let us hope and pray that the retrogression of visas cease as soon as possible.  If not, we can hope and pray that the US will create a special visa for foreign nurses, so that Filipino Nurses can continue to apply for work in the US without fear of visa shortages.


Retrogression is temporary and has a solution

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

If you have been following our articles on retrogression of visa priority dates, here is the continuation of the Who are affected by the Retrogression of Visas

"Whenever a door closes to you, a window opens."

Retrogression of visa priority dates may have affected some of our fellow Filipino Nurses,  but this  retrogression is only temporary.  Besides, retrogression of visas happen almost every year.  We should know that there is always a solution to a problem.  If we see retrogression of visas as a problem, that means we have a solution to the retrogression of visas.

Retrogression of visas only effects the number of immigrant visas available.  It does not effect the non-immigrant visas available for the Filipino Nurses.  The most common non-immigrant visa for Filipino Nurses is the H-1B or working visa.  This is available for those who have employers in the US who are willing to sponsor you.  The credentials and requirements for a working visa is almost the same as the immigrant visa.  In some cases, J-1 or Visitor Exchange Visa can be arranged as well.  However, you have to keep in mind that each category for non-immigrant visa has alloted number of visas per year as well.  But, as of right now, non-immigrant visas remain available for Filipino Nurses.

Non-immigrant working visa does not give you all the benefits of an immigrant visa.  In fact,  the only benefit you can get from working visa is that you can go to the US to work.  That does not allow you to live there permanently.  Also, a working visa has a validity period, but you can always renew it for as long as your employer is willing to continue to sponsor you.  Nowadays, since the number of visas is scarce,  it is sometimes difficult to get your wife and children an H-4 or dependent visa for them to go with you in the US.  If your goal is only to go to the US to work as a Nurse,  then you can consider a non-immigrant visa as an option. 

Who are affected by the Retrogression of Visas

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Will you be affected by the retrogression of visas?  Before you continue reading this article, you might want to read our articles on  Retrogression of Priority Dates began on November 1st  and Retrogression Explained  to help you better understand what we are going to discuss here.

The answer to this question is Yes and No.

Yes if you are in the Philippines and:

  • your employment-based petition was filed after October 1, 2005.  Even if your petition is approved, you will not be interviewed at the embassy until a visa becomes available for you.  You are affected in that you will need to wait longer to obtain your immigrant visa.

Yes, if you are on a working visa in the US and:

  • have filed for adjustment of status to become a US immigrant after October 1, 2005. (1) If you have an approved labor certification, you will have to wait longer to obtain your immigrant visa. (2) If your labor certification is not approved yet, the USCIS will not continue to process it until immigrant visas become available. (3) If you haven’t filed for adjustment of status to become an immigrant worker, you can not file until immigrant visas become available. (4) Those who have remained on a working visa after November 1, 2005 and have a pending status for the application of adjustment of status will be eligible to obtain employment authorization document (EAD) during the waiting period to remain in the US legally. And (5) Those who have not filed for adjustment of status will have to renew their working visa to be able continue to work in the US legally.

Yes, if you are in the US and:

  • have a sponsor who wants to file for an employment-based petition for you.  USCIS will not accept your application until the retrogression ceases.

No, if you are in the US and:

  • do not have a pending petition, but have an employer willing to sponsor your working visa in the US.

No, if you are on a working visa in the US and:

  • have filed for an adjustment of status to become an  immigrant worker and application for green card on or before October 1, 2005. If you did not apply for green card along with your adjustment of status, you are eligible to file for it as long as your priority date for adjustment of status is on or before October 1, 2005.

No, if you are in the Philippines and:

  • your employment based petition was filed on or before October 1, 2005.  All those who have approved petitions, with priority dates on or before October 1, 2005, will be eligible to receive immigrant visas starting November 1, 2006.
  • do not have a pending petition, but have an employer willing to sponsor you to work in the US.

For those who are affected by the retrogression of priority dates of visas for Filipino Nurses, besides the options I have mentioned above, there is no other option but to wait for the immigrant visas to become available.  We will discuss the options available for those who are not affected by the retrogression of visas in our next article.