On November 1, 2006, the Department of State enacted retrogression for Schedule A nurses and physical therapists. Retrogression refers to the resulting delay in obtaining an immigrant visa when there are more people applying for immigrant visas in a given year than the total number of visas available. The applicant cannot file an Application to Adjust Status (Form I-485) or obtain an immigrant visa by attending an immigrant visa interview at a U.S. Consulate abroad. Applicants must wait in line until the immigrant visa becomes available.
For Schedule A petitions, the priority date is the date the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (form I-140) was received by the USCIS. Each month, the U.S. Department of State issues a Visa Bulletin which announces the priority dates eligible for immigrant visas in each category. This information can be found at the U.S. Department of State website http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin/bulletin_4177.html
Immigrant visa petitions for Schedule A occupations generally fall within the EB category. This category has been retrogressed since 2005. An applicant in this category must have a priority date of April 22, 2001 to July 1, 2005 depending upon their country of birth. However, legislation passed in 2005 allocated an additional 50,000 immigrant visas specifically for Schedule A petitions and created a new EB-3 subcategory, EX for these visas. Unfortunately, this special allocation of 50,000 immigrant visas is exhausted. The priority date for the EX category is October 1, 2005. Therefore, as of November 1, 2005, an applicant for an immigrant visa based upon a Schedule A petition would have needed to have filed the I-140 petition on or before October 1, 2005 to be immediately eligible for an immigrant visa.
U.S. Consulates will not assign interview dates and will not be able to issue immigrant visas to Nurses and Physical Therapists until retrogression for Schedule A category (â€œEXâ€) is resolved. As of November 1, 2005, the ability to â€œconcurrently fileâ€ the I-140 and I-485 will be temporarily unavailable. An I-140 petition can still be filed, but the Application to Adjust Status (Form I-485) which provides authorization to remaining the United States and eligibility for employment authorization cannot be filed.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. www.uscis.gov
Before contacting the USCIS, USCIS may be able to help you if you have a question about immigration procedures, or need clarification, by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833). This toll-free call center has additional information and, during their specified office hours, can connect you to live assistance in English and Spanish. The NCSC will be able to answer most questions – although they cannot provide information about the status of your case over the telephone.
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