Green Card Delays for Advanced Degree Professionals: EB-2 Numbers Retrogress for All Countries
Advanced degree professionals and persons of exceptional ability from Mexico, Philippines, and all other countries will now face delays obtaining employment based green cards similar to individuals from China and India. The Department of State announced in the July 2012 Visa Bulletin that cut off dates for availability of immigrant visas for people in the second preference employment based category (EB-2) have moved back to January 1, 2009 for aliens from all countries except India and China. There is no visa availability for EB-2 applicants from India or China. The backward movement of visa cut off dates is often referred to as visa retrogression.
The retrogression will adversely affect many foreign national professionals working in the United States, especially those from Europe and Canada who have expectations of quick visa processing. EB-2 applicants who start the green card process today may have to wait up to four years before visa numbers are available.
EB-2 candidates affected by the backlog may need to explore alternative options to maintain status in the United States. Those on H-1B nonimmigrant status may be eligible to extend their H-1B status beyond the sixth year. Others may wish to consider seeking a green card under another visa category, including the EB-1 or EB-5 categories.
This visa backlog will adversely affect the ability of United States companies to keep highly skilled employees from Europe and other Westernized nations as professionals may choose to settle in their home countries or countries where immigration backlogs are not as great. It would be wise for Congress to address this issue before it adversely affects American competitiveness.
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