May Visa Bulletin: EB-2 Stays Current, EB-3 Now Unavailable (U)

April 9, 2009

The May Visa Bulletin shows that all employment-based third preference (EB-3) category visas are listed as "U," or "unavailable."  This means that the USCIS cannot issue any immigrant visas (greencards) to people who are being sponsored under the EB-3 category until next October, when the new fiscal year begins and when immigrant visa numbers are replenished.  This will affect hundreds of thousands of applicants who have been waiting for their greencard cases to become "current" for several years.  Some applicants have been waiting since 2001 and even longer!  What many applicants do not realize is that they could be eligible for an EB-2 or "second preference" category greencard if they meet certain requirements.  Most people who are eligible for the EB-2 category are people who hold a master's degree but some applicants who have more than 5 years of experience in their field may also qualify.

You should contact an immigration visa attorney if you believe you are eligible for an EB-2 category greencard application.  Experienced immigration attorneys who regularly represent employers in the labor certification process (PERM) can identify strong second preference greencard cases.  Although this is considered a more difficult case to present to the Department of Labor and to the USCIS, the benefits are immense.  Instead of waiting 7 or more years for a greencard through the EB-3 category, waiting times under the EB-2 category can be reduced to 2-3 years, possibly less if you use a competent immigration attorney.

I am most proud of a case involving a professional worker who had many years of experience in her field of work.  Even though she did not have a Master's degree, we decided to pursue a more difficult EB-2 PERM case because one of her children was turning 21 years old within the year.  If we chose the EB-3 route, this child would be considered "aged-out" upon her 21st birthday and that child would never derive a greencard from her mother's petition.  We decided to take a chance on the more difficult PERM case and earlier this year, the entire family (eldest child included) received their greencards thanks to our decision to file the EB-2 case and also because we benefitted from the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) which can "freeze" a child's age for immigration purposes.

Some clients think that if they already have an EB-3 case pending, they cannot also file for an EB-2.  This is not true if certain requirements are met.  If you have a long-pending EB-3 case, check with an immigration attorney to see if you qualify for an EB-2 second preference application.  

--ecf