Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Business Committee Chairs met with the Department of State’s Charles Oppenheim last week. Based on the meeting, AILA predicts that EB-2 numbers will jump another six months when the March 2012 Visa Bulletin is published in mid-February. This jump of priority dates comes after several months of rapid progression of priority dates in the EB-2 category. The EB-2 progression will stop at that point until the summer. There was no prediction about the progression of EB-3 petitions.

Charles Oppenheim is the Department of State’s Chief of the Control and Reporting Division. He is the officer who is responsible for producing the Visa Bulletin each month. Both Mr. Oppenheim and the USCIS are surprised at how low the demand has been for employment-based green cards in 2011-12. Mr. Oppenheim says that about 10-15% of all employment-based green cards are Consular Processed and 85-90% are Adjustment of Status petitions.

There has been anecdotal evidence that there are many EB-3 to EB-2 upgrades, although the true impact on EB-3 priority dates is still unknown. The slow advancement of priority dates in early Fiscal Year 2011 was due in part by these upgrades. Mr. Oppenheim’s office does not clear an upgraded EB-3 number until the upgraded EB-2 petition is approved.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


To little fanfare, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy has announced that there will only be four National Physical Therapy Exam testing dates offered in 2013. The exam dates for 2013 are expected to be released in mid-2012.

The FSBPT is offering five exams in 2012 and offered three exams in the second-half of 2011. FSBPT notes that:

We understand and appreciate that more test dates – not fewer – is what our stakeholders would like. However, in order to maintain the validity of the exam and maintain the current score reporting process, we are able to offer only four dates in 2013.

FSBPT began fixed date testing on July 1, 2011, as a result of concerns over the security of the exam. The NPTE is only offered in the United States and is the only one of the three major healthcare licensing exams to have adopted a fixed date testing schedule. The NCLEX-RN (Registered Nurse) and the OTR (Occupational Therapy) exams are offered around the world and on most business days. Both the NCLEX-RN and the OTR exams have not had notable security breaches, unlike the NPTE.

Monday, January 16, 2012


During most of the 2000s, internationally trained nurses made up about 10-15% of all new RNs that came on-line in the US. These numbers disappeared with the onset of retrogression in January 2008. The retrogression, now in its fourth year, has eviscerated the number of foreign-trained RNs.

In 2008, about 51,373 internationally educated RNs passed the NCLEX exam. In 2011, that number has been more than halved to 23,266, a drop of about 28,000. Fortunately for US healthcare users, US-educated RNs have filled half of the gap; about 14,000 more US-educated nurses now take the NCLEX-RN then did in 2008.

While the US nursing shortage certainly has eased in recent months, economists and government officials all agree that this is a temporary condition. By the end of the decade the US could be short 250,000 to 1 million nurses, depending on whose estimates you read.

NCLEX-RN Test Takers
US EducatedInt'l EducatedTotal
2010167,597 30,178197,775
2011172,04123,266 195,307

Source: NCSBN Fact Sheets

Sunday, January 8, 2012


The Department of State has just released the February 2012 Visa Bulletin. The February Visa Bulletin is the fifth Visa Bulletin of US Fiscal Year 2012.

This Visa Bulletin again showed much improvement in the EB-2 categories. The China and India EB-2 numbers jumped another 12 months, and now stand at January 2010. In the last two months these EB-2 numbers have improved almost two years. The February Visa Bulletin notes that:

China and India: Reports from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicate that the rate of new filings for adjustment of status in recent months has been extremely low. This fact has required the continued rapid forward movement of the cut-off date, in an attempt to generate demand and maximize number use under the annual limit. Once the level of new filings or USCIS processing increases significantly, it will be necessary to slow or stop the movement of the cut-off. Readers are once again advised that an eventual need to retrogress the cut-off date is also a distinct possibility.

The EB-3 categories had much more modest gains -- a few weeks in all instances.

February 2012 Visa Bulletin
All Other CountriesChina IndiaMexico
EB-2Current 01JAN1001JAN10Current

Friday, January 6, 2012


On Monday CGFNS will begin to offer an Expedited Review Service for their Credentials Evaluation Service (CES). This is an optional service for faster review. CGFNS will charge $150 for Expedited CES, unless the Application has previously been filed and is pending with CGFNS. Applicants with an existing CES can upgrade their CES to Expedited Review for $250.

The Expedited Service will result in a complete report within ten business days, provided that all requisite documents are at CGFNS. If all required documents are not with CGFNS, CGFNS will notify the applicant of any missing or insufficient documents. Once this deficiency is cured, CGFNS will issue the report.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


There are several business immigration legislative initiatives that were proposed in Congress in late 2011. Whether some of these will be signed into law is an open question.

The US Senate presently is the tougher of the two chambers of the US Congress. The Senate is split half: there are 51 Democrats and 47 Republicans (and two Independents, who tend to vote with the Democrats). Because of the Senate’s procedural machinations, any single Senator can delay any bill by placing a “hold” on a bill.

The US House of Representatives is overwhelmingly Republican, 242-192. This allows bills to move much quicker through the House, provided that the Republican leadership is in favor of the bill.

For several years gridlock in the “do-nothing” Congresses has forestalled any meaningful immigration legislation. There are three bills that had action taking on them in December. While the odds are against these bills passing are long, they represent the best chance of positive immigration legislation in the first quarter of 2012. They also represent the best chance for positive immigration legislation in several years.

HR 3012 – The Fairness For High-Skilled Immigrants Act. This bill seeks to eliminate the individual per-country numerical quotas that exist in the allocation of employment-based green cards. The per-country restrictions would be eliminated over three years. The House passed the bill in November. The Senate seemed poised to pass the bill, until Sen. Grassley (R-IA) placed a hold on the bill in December. Sen. Grassley seeks to include several other amendments to the bill, all of which seem aimed at creating a more restrictive business immigration environment. Sen. Grassley’s history suggests that the chances of this bill passing are low unless he can be appeased.

S. 2005 - Irish Recognition and Encouragement Act of 2011. The IRE Act authorizes the Secretary of State to issue up to 10,500 E-3 visas per year to Irish nationals. In the last few years several “trade” visa programs have exempted special classes of nonimmigrants from the usual visa quotas and process. Since the middle part of the last decade, trade visa programs have been carved out for nationals of Chile, Singapore, and Australia. The IRE Act is being pushed by Sen. Brown (R-MA). Massachusetts traditionally is a strong-hold for pro-Irish immigration measures. Sen. Brown’s predecessor, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), had long championed Irish visa programs. With Sen. Brown facing a tough campaign, he may use this bill to curry favor with his deep cadre of pro-Irish constituents.

S. 1986 - STEM Visa Act of 2011 (S. 1986). This bill was introduced just before Congress began its latest holiday. A version of the STEM Act repeatedly has been introduced in several prior Congresses. While the STEM Act would be good for America and great for American business, the STEM Act has failed to gain traction in the past and is not expected to do so in this Congress.