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July 2019 Priority Dates Advanced to “Current” for Filipino Nationals Under the F2A & EB3 Visa Categories: What This Really Means to Visa Applicants

There is good news for visa applicants under two visa categories. For the July 2019 Visa Bulletin, applicants from the Philippines who are waiting for their priority dates to become current under the F2A and EB3 category will benefit from the “current” availability of priority dates.

F2A visa categories are spouses and minor children of lawful permanent resident while EB3 categories are the professionals, skilled workers and other workers. The published July 2019 visa bulletin indicates that the F2A and EB3 categories’ priority dates are current.

Generally, a visa applicant may initiate the application for visa and be interviewed for his/her eligibility when a priority date is current. The immigration process undertaken may either be an application for adjustment of status for those who are already present in the United States or through consular processing for applicants who are still in the Philippines.

Perplexing – Current But With Cut Off Date?

The spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents who have approved I-130 petitions with priority dates that are current may initiate either adjustment of status or consular processing. The fact that is it current means that a visa is available. However, if one reads the July 2019 visa bulletin, what is noticeably unusual is the date under the ”filing” chart. While the “final” chart clearly shows that priority date under F2A as current, the filing chart indicates a cut off date of March 8, 2019. So even if the priority date is current, F2A beneficiaries with March 2019 are the only ones who may adjust or undergo consular processing.

Charles Oppenheim of the U.S. Department of State stated that the cut off date of March 2019 “filing” chart was done intentionally to avoid completely opening floodgates to consular filings under this category. He also explained that moving the final action date to current is intended to spur responses to the NVC letters but it is not expected to have any impact on the number of usage for the current fiscal year (FY2019). What this means is that F2A beneficiaries from the Philippines may start the consular processing but since the number of visas are still the same, there may be a possibility that this F2A category will retrogress again in the coming months. Those who are mostly likely to benefit are those with priority dates of March 8, 2019 under the F2A.

EB3- Visas Available But Only for a Limited Time

Employment-based third preference, or most commonly known as EB3 category, is the classification for professionals, skilled workers and unskilled workers. Most healthcare professionals fall under this category like the registered nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Other workers under this category includes unskilled workers or those who do not require bachelor’s degrees such as the caregivers.

Unlike the F2A visa categories, the filing and final charts under the EB3 category indicate that the status is “current”. Filipinos who have EB3 visa petition approvals are now ready for visa processing this month of July 2019.

Given these positive changes this month of July, Filipinos with approved petitions under the F2A and EB3 categories must take immediate action to take advantage of this noteworthy update on the visa bulletin. There is a short window to file between now and the end of July 2019. According to Mr. Oppenheim, It is anticipated that the final action date for EB3 will retrogress again next month.

(Atty. Lourdes Santos Tancinco, Esq. is an immigrant advocate and a principal partner at the Tancinco Law Offices, a San Francisco CA based law firm. She may be reached at 1 888 930 0808, law@tancinco.comfacebook.com/tancincolaw, or through her website www.tancinco.com)

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