As every reader of the HLG Healthcare Immigration Blog is surely aware, the EB3 Visa Bulletin dates just leapt forward, which is great news. Essentially the reason that the DOS did this is because the US fiscal year is nearly half over (the fiscal year runs Oct 1- September 30), and the DOS is concerned that all of the visas will not be used. It was this phenomenon – lack of using all visas – that caused the Visa Gate scandal of 2007. By moving the dates ahead now, instead of waiting for June or July like last year, the DOS hopes to avoid having to over-progress the dates this summer.
By way of background, there are two ways that visas can be claimed -- (i) domestically via the I-485 Adjustment of Status and (ii) internationally via the DOS' Consulate system. Ideally the US government wants the visas to be used on a priority date basis, which is to say that it shouldn't matter if the I-140 is filed for an AOS or CP; the approval of the immigrant visa should be the same.
The USCIS, which is the agency that works the AOS cases, has likely indicated to the DOS that it cannot process as many cases as necessary. Therefore by moving the dates aggressively ahead, it is allowing the Consulates to use more of the visas (which is good for the PTs and RNs!).
Note however that Section D of the Visa Bulletin in Section D says that if the USCIS improves its processing of AOS cases, the DOS may re-retrogress the EB3 date. On the other hand if the USCIS continues to be unable to timely process AOS cases, there is a chance sometime this spring for the dates to continue to move forward.
None of this reduces or eliminates the need for legislation aimed at curing the retrogression of numbers for Schedule A workers. We're still working on it. We're making slow but steady progress. I'm optimistic that we can get something done this year, but it is slow-going. If any staffing companies, hospitals, clinics, recruiting companies, or other end users of healthcare workers are interested in joining the CTIHS, please email Chris Musillo.