Do’s and Don’ts During Retrogression of Priority Dates05 April 2012
Waiting for priority dates to become current takes longer for certain visa applicants. The lengthy wait is worsened by “retrogression of priority dates.” This happens when the visa priority dates move backwards rather than moving forward. It is not unusual to hear of cases where wrong decisions are made that jeopardize future visa issuances.
No Good News
The Department of State’s Chief of Visa Control, Charles Oppenheim, recently issued a projected movement of the priority dates until July 2012. There is no good news for visa applicants in the family preference categories. Petitions by U.S. citizens for their adult children will move up by approximately 3 to 6 weeks per month. U.S. citizen petitions for brothers and sisters will move 3 to5 weeks per month. Petition by green card holders for their spouses and children will move forward by 2.5 months every month until July 2012.
In the employment-based categories, applicants for visas from the Philippines enjoy a priority date that is current for all preference categories except the third preference. The third preference category includes both skilled and unskilled workers. Nurses and physical therapists, among others, fall under this third preference category. Mr. Oppenheimer projected that there will be an approximate movement of 3-5 weeks every month until July 2012 for this category. Still a very slow process considering that they are just issuing visas for petitions filed in 2006 for this category.
The proposed bill in the House that will increase the quota for family-based petition was not taken in the Senate and, hence, no law has yet been enacted on this matter. When the House approved the bill sometime in November 2011, most family-based petitioners were excited about the possibility of having the waiting period decreased. No luck. In an election year, it is doubtful whether an immigration bill will be passed into law; more so with a bill that will increase family based visa quota.
Do’s and Don’ts
For those applicants who must stay single to obtain a visa (referring to permanent resident parents petitioning their adult children), marriage is a critical issue. The visa application for those who marry while their petition is still pending is automatically terminated. On the other hand if the petitioner is a U.S. citizen parent petitioning an unmarried adult child, marriage of the child will result in downgrading of the petition resulting in longer wait times. For these applicants note the following: (1) DO understand the consequence of marrying on your visa petition; (2) DO consider staying single if you really want to pursue your visa petition; (3) DO NOT engage in ‘secret marriage’, there is no such thing and it will still have the effect of a marriage; (4) DO NOT misrepresent you are single to the consul if you are already married. They have a way of determining whether you are saying the truth, as the consequence will catch up with you when you least expect it. Deportation is a possibility if immigration authorities discover your lie later on.
For children who have already aged out (turned 21 years old) and are left behind while their parents and siblings are in the United States take note of the following: (1) DO spend productive time while waiting by using it to finish your education or get some useful trade skills or get a job; (2) DO NOT simply rely on remittances from your parents and explore ways to be productive yourself; (3) DO NOT take illegal drugs because this will have a consequence on you future visa application and will bar your from receiving your visa; (4) DO NOT be tempted by others to engage in fraudulent visa applications and most especially (5) DO NOT change your name or use an assumed name to try and get a temporary visa.
Petition by U.S. citizens on behalf of their siblings suffer the longest backlogs. For applicants in this category, take note of the following: (1) DO NOT put your hopes too high; (2) DO accept that it will take approximately two decades for your visas to become current, and (3) DO spend productive time while waiting as you may or may no longer be interested in migrating after a 2 decade wait.
Those affected by the retrogression issue are mostly the nurses. The movement of the backlog is only 3 to 5 weeks each month and it will take many years before this category becomes current again. For newly graduate nurses: (1) DO accept other opportunities from other countries; (2) DO find U.S. petitioners if you can and have them petition you so you have a priority date and you will have a visa petition to look forward to becoming current; (3) DO get an advance degree so you can qualify for a higher visa category and you will not have as long a wait for a visa priority date to become current. Getting a U.S. employer to petition for a nurse may be difficult these days. But the economy is getting better, so who knows?
Sometimes, no matter how bad the situation is, we cannot continue to dwell on the negatives. The U.S. immigration system is certainly far from ideal. Backlogs will be there and may only get worse. But the best advice is not to allow the “waiting” game of visa petitions take control of one’s future. There are other legal options and precautions to take. If time is spent productively, then hopefully time will pass quickly.
(Tancinco may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 887 7177 or 721 1963)