Commentary – What do the EB-3 Green Card Cutoff Dates Published Mean?
As we have warned previously, the EB-3 green card category for skilled and professional workers is going to retrogress in January. We now know how far back they will roll back. Beginning next month, nationals of the Philippines, China and India will not be able to receive immigrant visas unless they have a priority date that is earlier than January 1, 2002. Generally, the priority date is the date the I-140 application was filed for the applicant. Nationals of other countries are not affected - YET. We expect the priority dates to retrogress for all nationalities in a few months.
Why is this happening? Well, there is considerable pent up demand for EB-3 green cards due to the 245i surge in applications file in 2001. A lot of these cases recently have moved to the point of being able to process them. Also, the “banking” of extra slots from 1999 and 2000 provided for by Congress in AC21 is now not enough to meet the current demand.
So what to do? First, for applicants in the US, it is crucial that adjustment applications be filed before the end of the month. For applicants abroad, those who can be interviewed and processed this month will be safe. So definitely don't seek postponements of any interviews if possible.
There are still non-immigrant visa possibilities available to many and for H-1B visa holders, extensions should be possible until a current EB-3 priority date is available. Of course, for applicants like nurses who do not have a non-immigrant option readily available, this news is particularly bad and could lead to delays in processing for several years.
Otherwise, the best solution will be to get this problem fixed legislatively. That means getting Congress to pass a bill that will allow unused green card numbers in other categories to be used by EB-3 applicants. A law that passed four years ago allowed unused slots from 1999 and 2000 to be used by EB-3 applicants and that is one of the reasons why the EB-3 numbers have been current for the last several years. We need Congress to extend that law to allow unused numbers since 2000 to continue to be used.
Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided as a public service and not intended to establish an attorney client relationship. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk.