Tuesday, September 25, 2012


In discussions with clients and friends of MU Law, we have begun to hear that there are nursing shortages in certain disciplines and in certain geographical pockets around the US.  The shortages appear to be in some specialized disciplines (as opposed to Medical-Surgery) and in rural areas in the west and south.  We have even seen reports of nursing shortages in less common areas like Massachusetts and West Virginia.

A reported in Fierce Healthcare’s newsletter, nursing represented the biggest increase (40 percent) in job openings from Q1 to Q2, 2012.  The Occupational Outlook Handbook continually reports that nursing will be among the occupations in shortest supply for this decade.  Nonetheless, foreign-trained RN numbers continue to plummet.  And it remains to be seen if anyone in Congress will show any leadership on this increasingly important issue.

Monday, September 17, 2012


The long-awaited STEM visa bill has been introduced into the House of Representatives by powerful House Judiciary Chair Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).  Versions of the STEM visa bill have been pushed in the past, but this one might be the best effort for enactment. 

The STEM visa bill eliminates the 55,000 visa lottery and reserves these visas for graduates of US Masters Programs in STEM occupations.  STEM occupations include Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  The STEM visa bill includes language that limits its usage by some on-line only and for-profit colleges.  The bill is expected to have wide support from many Congressman and Senators.  Although President Obama has not commented on the bill, the conventional wisdom is that he would support the bill.  Challenger Mitt Romney would almost certainly support the bill.  He has advocated that he would “like to staple a green card to their diploma”.

Although allied healthcare occupations are not listed in the current version of the bill, the bill would help allied occupations by essentially increasing employment-based green card numbers by about 25%.  Also, legislators could add healthcare occupations to the bill prior to enactment or even after enactment. 

The biggest holdup to bill is the Congressional calendar.  The calendar only has a few more legislative days between now and the Presidential election on November 6, 2012.  There may be an active “lame duck” legislative period.  The lame duck period is the period between the elections and the introduction of the new Congress and President in January 2013.

UPDATE (9/18/2012 11:00 AM ET): The Hill is reporting that Sen. Schumer (D-NY) will be introducing a related, although not identical, bill in the Senate.  The report also indicates that Rep. Smith's bill may not only be introduced but passed this week.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Nonimmigrant visa applicants in the Philippines and India have new processes in order to obtain their visas.


Since September 3, 2012, Philippine nonimmigrant visa applicants are required to present a U.S. visa application deposit slip in order to pay the machine-readable visa (MRV) application fee. Applicants should print the applicable U.S. visa application deposit slip and take it to the bank to pay the fee.

Each U.S. visa application deposit slip will contain an expiration date. Bank agents will not accept payments based on expired deposit slips.

Once the bank confirms payment, it will issue a receipt to the Applicant. This receipt cannot be replaced. Applicants will not be able to schedule an appointment without the receipt number. For complete instructions and to print the deposit slip, please visit the on-line appointment webpage.


The United States Embassy in India has announced it is implementing a new visa processing system throughout India that will further standardize procedures and will simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website at www.ustraveldocs.com/in, starting on September 26, 2012. Visa applicants will be able to pay application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or with their mobile phones. Applicants can also pay in cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches.

Applicants will be able to schedule their appointments online or by phone. The new system will also allow companies and travel agents to purchase multiple fee receipts for group travel.

Under the new system, applicants will have to make two appointments. Prior to their visa interviews, applicants will have to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit their fingerprints and a photo. Located apart from the Embassy and Consulates in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai, the OFCs will reduce congestion at U.S. consular facilities and speed applicant processing. Most applicants will need to visit an OFC only once.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


The Department of State has just released the October 2012 Visa Bulletin. It is somewhat more pessimistic than was expected, although some of the retrogression may be based on the DOS’ desire to slow the applications in October 2012. As we explained in a recent post, the visa number demand is greatest every October. By slowing the application flow in October, it allows the DOS and USCIS to efficiently allocate adjudicating officers’ time.

The biggest surprise is that the India EB-2 number has retrogressed all the way back to September 2004. This is likely a very conservative visa number and we would expect the number to move forward in the next few months. As a point of reference, the November 2010 Visa Bulletin was May 2006 and there simply cannot be that many EB-2 immigrant visas pending from 2004-2006, in spite of a likely uptick in EB-2 conversions from EB-3 priority dates. Applicants with India EB-2 priority dates from 2004-2006 have been able to apply for their Adjustments of Status without much impediment for two years.

The All Other and Philippine EB-2 date (January 2012) is where we expected it to be. Our sense is that this date will also move forward in the upcoming months and may become current.

The EB-3 numbers continue their very slow progressions. These numbers are only noteworthy by their consistency. MU Law expects this trend to continue into the future.

October 2012 Visa Bulletin
All Other CountriesChina IndiaPhilippines
EB-201JAN12 15JUL0701SEP0401JAN12

Thursday, September 6, 2012


The Department of State manages the Visa Bulletin program, which is the system for the allocation of immigrant visas (green cards). The system was designed by Congress to allocate visas according to a preference system based on the applicant's country of birth and their visa category (e.g. EB-1, EB-2, EB-3). New immigrant visas are allocated at the beginning of the US fiscal year, which is October 1, 2012. The EB-2 and EB-3 visa categories are used by many healthcare occupations including: registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists.

AILA has met with the Department of State to obtain the projections for the upcoming 2013 fiscal year (October 1, 2012 - September 30, 2013). Several important notes came out of the meeting.

EB-1 usage is increasing. This indirectly impacts the EB-2 and EB-3 categories because unused EB-1 numbers are allocated to EB-2 and EB-3. Increasing EB-1 usage means fewer numbers to trickle down into the lower EB categories.

EB-2 India will be 2006. This is bad news for Indian natives who had hoped to see numbers similar to the favorable numbers that were posted in early 2012. The DOS expects slow movement in this category. China EB-2 will be retrogressed, although not as badly as India.

EB-2 Worldwide (Other) should be current. Other Eb-2 countries should be current for most of the year, although it will retrogress Summer 2013, as it does in most summers. Readers should not be alarmed in the October 2012 Visa Bulletin EB-2 number is not Current; it will be current in November 2012. The DOS may do this to slow the applications in October 2012. The visa number demand is greatest every October. By slowing the application flow in October, it allows the DOS and USCIS to efficiently allocate adjudicating officers’ time.

EB-3 Numbers. EB-3 Numbers will move at about the same pace as they did in 2012.


Some of MU Law’s attorney staff will be featured lecturers in September. On September 13, 2012, MU Law's Chris Musillo will be leading the Cincinnati Bar Association’s Immigration Law Committee’s Monthly Roundtable. Chris' discussion will be centered on healthcare immigration issues. Later in the month, MU Law's Chris Musillo and Maria Schneider will be Guest Lecturers at the University of Cincinnati's College of Law. Chris and Maria's lecture to the UC law students is focused on employment-based immigration law. Their Guest Lecture is on September 25, 2012 and will be in front of UC Law’s immigration law class.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Because of the H-1B cap, American employers file cap-subject H-1Bs in April, for start dates in October. Generally, USCIS is able to have these H-1Bs approved by August, so that overseas H1-B approved Beneficiaries have ample to time to schedule their Consular/Embassy appointments and obtain their visas. Likewise the H-1B approvals must come by October 1, or else some students’ work authorization may lapse through no fault of their own.

AILA is reporting that the USCIS Service Center Operations has made adjudication of these cases by October 1st a top priority by adding additional resources as available. AILA’s Service Center Operations (SCOPS) liaison committee has reminded the USCIS Service Center Operations. MU Law clients and friends may want to upgrade their H-1B petitions under the premium processing program in order to be sure that the H-1B approval is timely issued.