Visa Bulletin for March 2007 – Little movement, not enough

Visa Bulletin Department of State released the Visa Bulletin for March 2007, which reflects retrogression in the family-based third preference category for Mexico and the Philippines. Also, little forward movement is expected in the employment-based third preference category in the near future.

Visa numbers: The U.S. government makes only a certain number of immigrant visas (green cards) available each year and these are allocated among the various immigrant visa categories and countries from which applicants seek to emigrate.

Retrogression: For the past few years, the number of immigrants approved for employment-based immigrant visas has been lower than the number of visas available, resulting in no backlog in visa numbers. Recently, the DOS has seen far more immigrants approved for employment-based immigrant visas and has run out of visa numbers in certain categories, causing a temporary backlog or “retrogression” of visa numbers.

EB-3: This visa category includes employment-based immigrant visas for:
1) professionals with a bachelor’s degree
2) skilled workers in positions requiring two or more years of experience or training
3) unskilled workers
Chargeability: Immigrant visa numbers are further apportioned among the various countries from which applicants seek to emigrate. Each country has a limit and each approved applicant is “charged” against his or her country’s limit. Most countries have fewer applicants than available visa numbers. However, certain high-emigration countries often meet or exceed their chargeability limit. These countries include China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines.

Priority Date: Immigrant visa numbers are given out according to a “first come, first served” policy. The date an applicant first begins the green card process (often a Labor Certification Application filed with the U.S. Department of Labor or an I-140 or I-130 Petition filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) becomes that person’s priority date, which will determine the order in which that person will receive a visa number and thus be further processed for an immigrant visa or adjusted to immigrant status. When a retrogression occurs in visa numbers, applicants will have to “wait in line” until their priority date becomes current before they can be adjusted or receive an immigrant visa.