• US visas for October: Balot, PNoy?


    October is the January of US Immigration—an important date to know if you have an approved US Family-sponsored or Employment-based petition.

    In a manner of speaking, when the petition is filed, an egg is laid. Then the incubation period begins. Visa applicants (the persons being petitioned for) watch the movement of priority dates every month. The published dates from the US State Department shows whether one’s egg has turned into a chick or duckling ready to face a new world.

    So what does PNoy have to do with it?

    The Filipinos voted for President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd: in essence the voters laid a presidential egg. The incubation period is six years, a fixed term for elected Presidents pursuant to the 1987 Constitution which was created under the watch of PNoy’s mother, former President Cory Aquino.

    After hints of running for another term (effectively extending the presidency incubation period for another six years) PNoy backtracked.

    On August 28, 2013, the Manila Times reported that President Benigno Aquino 3rd “admitted consulting some people about a proposal to amend the Constitution but made it clear he is not interested in seeking another term.”

    In a separate interview with Bombo Radyo, Aquino said he looks forward to stepping down in 2016.

    “In one year and 10 months, I will be with (Undersecretary) Rey Marfil and (Assistant Secretary) Jun Delantar. On July 1, the day after we step down from office, we will eat well with Kalayaan [Freedom] written on our backs,” the President added.

    To a detainee, especially the political activist group, freedom is the exact opposite of incarceration, being kept in jail or prison without charges or the flimsiest of conjured law violations. Does PNoy consider the presidency a detention?

    At the time I wrote and sent this to the Times editor, President Aquino 3rd seemed amenable to pack his bags: in Tagalog, Magba-balot na. Hence, Balot, P-Noy! But news yesterday (Sunday) again told of PNoy saying “…but I cannot ignore what the people want.”

    As to eggs hatched, our Pateros readers would agree that it is better to have a balut, even a penoy, but not an abnoy. Though abnoys could be cooked ala-rice cakes, disposing of them is a hard sell.

    Let us get back to our priority dates, the eggs laid when a petitions are filed.

    The US allocates a finite number of visas in the Family and Employment-based categories annually: 226,000 for the Family-sponsored and 140,000 for the Employment-based applicants.

    Each country has an allocation of 25,620 a year. Only 25,620 chicks or ducklings hatched would be allowed to be with their mothers—the petitioners. The others would have to wait their turn year after fiscal year.

    To be considered for immigrant visa interviews, an applicant must have submitted all requirements to the National Visa Center. Immigrant visa applicants are those seeking to get their place within the 25,620 allocation yearly. They are competing with other visa beneficiaries who are in the US – legally or otherwise. Those in the US are called applicants for adjustment of status. They do not need a visa to go to the US They were already admitted earlier in a different category or status such as on tourist, working or student visas.

    A person whose authorized stay has expired becomes TNT or out of status. His ability to stay in the US depends on very limited choices. One of them is applying for adjustment of status from no-status to that of a lawful permanent resident or green card holder.

    TNTs, therefore, compete with immigrant visa applicants who are in the Philippines.

    Every month, Consular officers and US immigration officers are required to report to the Department of State a list of documentarily qualified (DQ) applicants for numerically limited visas or annual quota. An applicant is considered DQ if he or she has submitted all the documents required for the specific category, has paid the appropriate visa fees and the priority date is current, or within the cut-off date as reported in the Visa Bulletin.

    Visa numbers are assigned to DQ applicants, in chronological order of reported priority dates, for demand received within a specific month. If visas in all categories have been assigned but there are more applicants in line, “the category or foreign state in which demand was excessive was deemed oversubscribed. “

    So, if you are the 25,621st visa applicant from the Philippines, you have to wait next month to see if your priority date would be current.

    Priority date is the date of filing of a Family-sponsored petition. For the Employment-based categories, the priority date is when the permanent labor certification request was accepted or received at a US Department of Labor agency, the Employment and Training Administration.

    This date should be matched with the priority dates indicated in the specific category of each month’s Visa Bulletin. In State Department lingo, the priority dates published monthly is called the “cut-off” dates.

    If you have not received your interview date, two things are very probable: you have not yet completed the requirements or you have moved to a new address and you have not informed the US Embassy, or the National Visa Center of this change. If you do not act after being notified of the visa availability, there is a chance of the visa application being revoked or cancelled.

    All those years of waiting will not just put you back to square one. You no longer have a square to go to.

    October is the start of the US Government’s fiscal year also known as budget year. The US Congress passes legislation to fund the government’s budget for each fiscal year. Hence, the US Fiscal Year for 2015 starts October 2014 and ends September 2015. Visa allocation follows the same pattern.

    Traditionally, the priority dates should move forward faster from October to the first few months as there are plenty to distribute. Priority dates move slower as the fiscal year ends since visas are used up. Some visas are returned, others lost forever. But that is a topic for another time.

    If you have not received your interview notice and need assistance in determining the status of your Family-sponsored or Employment-based petition, you may send your inquiry to options@visacenter.org


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    1 Comment

    1. I long for the day when aremikan visa applicants from New York, LA or Austin as well as those from the Eastern European countries would be lining up at our POEA offices to queue as work applicants in our BPO offices, to say the least – or queue as “domestic helpers” or euphemistically called INTERIOR ASSISTANT. Surely, that will not be far too long for it will begin when Senyor Simyon steps down from his overstaying board and lodging arrangement at Mendiola Street.