FOUR of the five countries with permanent migration programs – and are the top five residency destinations for Filipinos – accept immigrants based on point-factors: age, education, experience, language proficiency, civil status.
The immigrant applicant also earns extra points for having family members in the country of intended migration. Having studied, worked and/or resided in that country provides bonus points as well.
Only the United States continues to select immigrants based mainly on family connections or employment. Yet, the US allocates more immigrant visas or permanent residency places than all the four countries combined.
In addition, US immigration laws lean toward family unification. Of the one million permanent residency place allocated yearly, 226,000 are for Family-petitions. Qualified family members – spouses, minor and adult children, parents, siblings are issued their immigrant visas regardless of their academic qualifications, work experience, skill, talent or language proficiency.
Employment-based applications are set at 140,000. The five employment-based categories are set aside for those in the professions, skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled workers. The best and the brightest in their fields – priority workers (under the First Employment Preference or EB1) have a quota of 10,000 visas yearly.
Those with Masters or PhDs are also entitled to 10,000 green cards in this category if they can establish that issuance of visas would be to the national interest of the U.S.
The third or EB3 is where members of the professions and skilled workers are classified. With more (much, much more applicants) than the 10,000 visa allocation, the waiting period in this category is approximately 5 to 7 years.
With Australia, Canada and New Zealand getting the best talents and skills based on their points-based migration, the US Congress has been toying with the idea of setting a hybrid family-occupation points system.
Last year, the US Senate passed a Merits-based migration bill, 68-32– (S.744 – Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act). The House of Representatives did not pass a similar bill, hence the first points-based migration scheme in the US failed.
To effectively compete for the professionals, talents and skilled workers of the world, a bill was re-introduced in the lower house last week which:
–Increases employment-based immigrant cap numbers from 140,000 to 235,000
–Increases the temporary work visas (H-1B category) from 65,000 to 155,000 as well as
increase the visas for those in the Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM visas).
–Creates new Employment-based categories to accommodate the most number of professions, occupations, skills and entrepreneurs.
–Eliminates the per-country limit for employment-based migration (the current cap is set at only 25,620 a year).
–Increases the per country family-based immigrant visas.
The bill, H.R. 2131 is entitled “Supplying Knowledge-based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act or the SKILLS Visa Act” and was first introduced last year but failed to get support from Republicans who oppose a comprehensive immigration reform law.
Republicans (Grand Old Party, GOP) now control both the House and Senate. In addition, they are miffed by the unilateral immigration action of President Barack Obama deferring deportation of undocumented immigrants while expanding the deferral to the parents of children who were the beneficiaries of the first deferred deportation executive action.
The GOP people are aware that they are unpopular with the immigrant votes and exhibit no tendency to compromise, betting on the popularity of the anti-immigrant votes among their electoral base, the conservatives, playing the anger against “immigrant-job-stealers” card.
It is more likely than not then, that the US will maintain its point-less migration program.
If this status quo of immigrant visa allocation remains, Filipino professionals and skilled workers would most likely migrate to Canada where an occupation-based system is in place, assuring a six-month processing time instead of the 5 to 7 year wait in the United States. Stay tuned.
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Textion of the week. “My US citizen father retired n PH 4 2yrs now. He petitioned me when he was a green card holder. My priority date is now current. Will his status and absence from the US affect my petition?”
When a green card petitioner becomes a US citizen, the petition also changes category – from F2B (over 21 unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens) to F1 (over 21 unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens). If the beneficiary (person being petitioned gets married, the category changes to F3 (married sons and daughters of US citizens). Should the beneficiary’s spouse die, the petition reverts to the F1 category.
However, if the beneficiary gets married before the petitioner becomes a US citizen, the petition gets revoked automatically since there is no category for the married sons and daughters of green card holders.
In any case, the petitioner must prove that he or she retains domicile (permanent address and residency) in the US. Otherwise, the immigrant visa would be refused. The good news is that the petitioner and beneficiary may leave at the same time instead of the petitioner going back to the US first as a condition for visa issuance.
You may text your visa or migration concern to 0919-998-8472. You may also call or text during the airing of “Amerika, Atbp.” on Radyo Agila 1062 AM, every Monday from 8 to 9 pm or post your concern on “Amerika, Atbp.” Facebook account.