Indian Green-Card-Seekers Dealt Significant Setback

By Roy Maurer Oct 15, 2014

Indian professionals waiting on permanent residency availability in the U.S. were dealt a significant blow with the release of the Department of State’s most recent visa outlook.

The November 2014 Visa Bulletin, released Oct. 9, showed a dramatic retrogression in the priority date for Indians in the EB-2 category, from May 2009 all the way back to February 2005. The EB-2 category is comprised of foreign nationals holding advanced degrees and pursuing permanent residence in the U.S.

The Visa Bulletin sets out per-country priority dates that regulate when an individual may begin the final phase of the “green card” process. Those with a priority date that is earlier than the date listed for that visa category and country can proceed with their application.

The priority date is determined by the earlier of either the date an Immigrant Visa Petition (Form I-140) was filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the date a Labor Certification Application was filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Once this date becomes current, the beneficiary is then eligible to file a green card application with USCIS or an immigrant visa petition with a consulate or embassy abroad.

Priority date cutoffs are assessed on a monthly basis by the State Department, based on anticipated demand, and can move forward or backward or remain static.

Visa Upgrades Led to Surge

The retrogression in the EB-2 India category is the result of a significant percentage of Indian nationals upgrading from the EB-3 category for professionals to the EB-2 category. This situation occurs when individuals already holding EB-3 status but not yet granted permanent residency are sponsored by an employer for permanent residence in the EB-2 category. Beneficiaries use their established EB-3 priority dates for subsequently filed immigrant visa petitions in the EB-2 category, creating a sharp surge in demand.

Good News for Rest of the World

Employment-based categories for all countries, except for EB-2 India, advanced:

  • EB-2 China advanced from Nov. 15, 2009, to Dec. 8, 2009.
  • EB-3 China progressed from Apr. 1, 2009, to Jan. 1, 2010.
  • EB-3 India also advanced, albeit only a few days, from Nov. 15, 2003, to Nov. 22, 2003.
  • EB-3 for the rest of the world moved from Oct. 1, 2011, to June 1, 2012.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him at @SHRMRoy

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