by Chris Musillo

Employment Based Green cards are processed by “priority date” in a FIFO (first-in, first-out) manner. A nurse’s “priority date” is established on the day that the nurse’s immigrant visa petition is first filed. A nurse retains her priority for the rest of her life, even if she files a later Green card case with a subsequent employer.

From 2005-2008 the industry saw massive numbers of nursing petitions. These petitions were fueled by: (a) enormous demand for foreign-trained nurses and (b)a special piece of legislation that exempted nurse green cards from the overall green card quota in 2005-2006. The special legislation ended in 2007.

Many of these nurses received their green cards and are now working in the US. However a large number of nurses did not receive their green cards because in 2009 the demand slowed for foreign-trained nurses and because retrogression spiked.

From 2009-13 there was a paucity of nurse immigration petitions. Starting in 2013 we saw a rebound for foreign-trained nurses. Industry leaders sought out nurses with priority dates from the 2005-2008, who had never received their US green cards. Since 2013 the industry has seen thousands of nurse’s green card petitions “re-filed” using the 2005-08 retained priority date.

My sense is that the population of nurses Filipino nurses who can retain their 2005-2008 priority dates are close to exhausted. Accordingly, I expect that once the Philippine EB-3 priority date Visa Bulletin reaches 2010, it will quickly accelerate through to at least 2013 and perhaps to 2015.

Nurses born in countries other than India, China, or the Philippines (Rest Of World) have no visa retrogression problem. Green cards are being issued for these nurses in under one year, as demand for the Worldwide nurses has yet to impact the Visa Bulletin. Because of the calculus involved in the Visa Bulletin computation, I expect the ROW EB-3 Visa Bulletin to be near “current” for the foreseeable future.

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