As we mentioned in an earlier blog post this week, the viability of HR3012 hangs in the balance. Congress will work until August 4 and then take a month off. The legislative calendar has some openings in September, although many Senators and Representatives focus will be on their own re-election campaigns and supporting other’s re-election efforts. The close Presidential campaign also means that much political momentum will be drawn away from immigration legislation and toward President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney.
Several comments to this blog have raised the very fair question of why Congress chose to pinch immigrant visa numbers away from the Rest of World in order to equalize the Employment Based categories. It’s a very fair point that has been made. HR 3012’s effect will be to delay EB2 and EB3 visa numbers for non-Indian and non-Chinese natives. It is unclear at this time what it means for Philippine natives, although the best guess is that Philippine EB3 will also be hurt by HR3012’s enactment.
MU Law’s position is that this is unfair and that solving one unfair policy (retrogression dates determined by birth) by creating another unfair policy (delaying approval for scores of applicants who have played by the rules) is wrong. The correct thing to do would be for Congress to guarantee reasonable processing times for all EB-2 and EB-3 visa applicants who presently have approved I-140s.
One way to do this would be to create a better phase-in plan than the current three year phase-in plan. HR’3012’s three year phase-in gradually raises the per-country caps until all EB applications are in the same retrogression schedule. The math on the phase-in is complex. It is nearly impossible to guess where the EB-3 priority dates will eventually settle if HR 3012 becomes law. Adding to the complexity is the real-world fact that no-one, including the Department of State, knows how many of those pending EB-3 applications are still viable.
A better plan would guarantee all EB-2 and EB-3 applicants that their retrogression would not increase as a result of HR 3012. So for instance if a ROW EB-3 has a priority date of September 2008 on the day that HR3012 becomes law, and the ROW Visa Bulletin is September 2006, then that applicant would be guaranteed a green card two years from the date of the enactment of HR3012. This plan would be simple to institute and could be crafted in a way as to not increase visa numbers.
Unfortunately, Congress has chosen to use the three year phase-in, which is more complex and ultimately serves neither constituency. It’s neither fair, nor easily applied.