Visa bulletin April 2017

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CRISPIN R. ARANDA

DESPITE the trumpeted changes that would happen once he assumed the presidency, such as “illegal immigrants are gone on day one!” US President Donald Trump is learning firsthand about the separation of powers, especially the checks and balances of American politics.

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The visa categories in the family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories as well as the total number of visa allocations and per country limit, for example, remain the same as the April 2017 Visa Bulletin below shows.

Family-sponsored preferences
First: (F1) Unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and children, and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

A. (F2A) Spouses and children of permanent residents: 77 percent of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75 percent are exempt from the per-country limit;

B. (F2B) Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of permanent residents: 23 percent of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: (F3) Married sons and daughters of US ctizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and sisters of adult US citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

For professionals, skilled and other workers, including religious workers, special immigrants and immigrant investors, the pace had even quickened somewhat.

Employment-based preferences
First: Priority workers: 40,000 cap, or 28.6 percent of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second: Members of the professions holding advanced degrees or persons of exceptional ability: same percentage or 40, 000, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third: Another 40,000 for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers: (28.6 percent of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “*other workers”.

Fourth: Certain special immigrants: 10,000 or 7.1 percent of the worldwide level.

Fifth: Employment creation: Like the fourth employment-based category, a 10,000 cap, or 7.1 percent of the worldwide level. Of the EB5 total, not less than 3,000 are reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers.

With the same visa allocation and continued filing—despite or in spite of slow processing pace—the cut-off dates for the Philippines have moved rather well compared to last month’s visa dates and five years before that.

Please note that the accompanying chart refers to the “final action dates” for Philippine immigrant visa applicants.

If your priority date is on or earlier than that shown in the specific category, you should have completed documentation and payment of all fees to be considered documentarily qualified, eligible for being scheduled for interview since an immigrant visa is already available for you as well as to each of your eligible dependents (spouse and unmarried children below 21 years of age).

Fast forward to the present. President Trump has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to suspend the fast-track processing of H-1B temporary work visas, starting April 3, 2017.

This means all (65,000 annual quota for) H-1B petitions—including the cap-exempt—will not be adjudicated or completed evaluation and processing within 15 calendar days as required by law for premium processing, specifically under Section 286(u) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The reason given by the USCIS is to “reduce overall H-1B processing times.”
The “Buy American, Hire American!” campaign promise is just a pipe dream.

The Washington Post and CNBC reported last week that the White House has exempted the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Mr. Trump’s executive order days after he took office that domestic or US-made steel must be used for the US-Canada pipe connection.

The reason?

The not-made-in-the-US pipes are “already literally sitting there” since 2013, the White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Air Force One. In short, the campaign bluster was not based on reality.

As for President Trump’s personal choice, he likes non-American two to one. Two of his wives are not US citizens. His first wife, Ivana, whom he married in 1977, was born Ivana Marie Zelníčková in Czechoslovakia.

American actress Marla Maples became Trump’s second wife in 1993. They got divorced in 1999 and the billionaire businessman chose another non-American, his current wife and First Lady Melania Trump from Slovenia whom he married in 2005.

And this brings us back to the topic of US visas, this time on the working category.

During the campaign, Mr. Trump vowed to eliminate the H-1B visas once elected President. If the H-1B visas were non-existent, Donald and Melania would not have met. Mrs. Trump the 3rd said she came over on an H-1B temporary working visa.

In January 2016, the magazine Harper’s Bazaar quoted the soon-to-be First Lady Melania saying: “Every few months, you need to fly back to Europe and stamp your visa. After a few visas, I applied for a green card and got it in 2001. After the green card, I applied for citizenship. And it was a long process.”

Unless the First Lady’s H-1B visa then was valid only for “a few months” like a tourist visa (tourists are not authorized to work legally), she would not have needed to return to Europe “every few months.” The H-1B visa may be issued initially for three years and renewed for another three.

If the same employer or another employer filed an immigrant visa petition for an alien worker under the employment-based categories, Melania Trump would have had to wait five years before she would have been eligible to apply for US citizenship.

The H-1B visa does not require people to get a visa stamped “every few months.” The visa is issued for three years and can be renewed for another three. Visa holders who are seeking a green card can stay beyond the maximum six years.

To get a fast track from green card holder to US citizen, an employment-based immigrant visa beneficiary must either have been sponsored on the EB1 (extraordinary aliens in the arts, business or a priority worker) or the next lower category – the EB2, for an alien who has an advanced degree (masteral or PhD) and the grant of an immigrant visa would be to the national interest of the United States. Otherwise, an EB2 applicant must have a job offer and a permanent labor certification.

Mrs. Trump the 3rd said she got her green card in 2001. She became a US citizen in July 2006—approximately a five-year wait—which matches the residency period required before a green card holder through the employment-based categories have to comply with, two years more than what a green card holder through marriage would have to wait if she is still married to the same US citizen who filed the spouse petition.

The Trump campaign then and the White House now have not released the immigration records of Melania Trump. Neither has the 45th President of the United States released his tax returns.

Abangan ang susunod na visa bulletin.

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1 Comment

  1. If you are so concerned about jobs for Filipinos, why don’t you write about how to create more good paying jobs in the Philippines instead of being so dependent on foreigners ?