The March 2020 retrogression of EB-3 has significant consequences for those who are in the immigrant visa process. It is expected that between March 1 and September 30 of this year, immigrant visas/green cards will only be issued to immigrants who have a 2016 priority date or earlier. When the first bulletin of the next fiscal year is released in late September, we expect the Rest of World EB-3 to return to current and the Philippines EB-3 to have a roughly 18-24-month retrogression.
Below are strategies for EB-3 immigrant applicants in various stages of the immigrant visa process:
Immigrants who will be adjusting status
USCIS has indicated that the dates for filing chart can be used in March. This means that the I-485 can only be filed if the immigrant has a priority date earlier than January 1, 2019. This applies to both Filipino and Rest of World immigrant applicants.
Immigrants currently at NVC phase with fee bill
If the applicant has already received fee bills, then the case can continue to be processed until the documentarily qualified notification is received from NVC. An embassy interview will not be scheduled until the immigrant’s priority date is current under the final action chart which for March is January 1, 2017. This applies to both Filipino and Rest of World immigrants.
Immigrants with approved I-140 but no fee bill
Immigrants should only receive the fee bill if the priority date is earlier than the date for filing of January 1, 2019, only we often see the NVC issue fee bills to those who have priority dates later than the dates of filing chart. Those immigrants with 2019 and 2020 priority dates will receive a letter from NVC explaining that the case cannot move forward and a fee bill issued until the priority date is current under the date for filing chart. Rest of World immigrants will continue to receive fee bills and be able to proceed through the NVC process but will not be able to receive an embassy interview until current under the final action chart.
Immigrants with embassy interviews scheduled for March
We expect these interviews will be rescheduled by the Embassy or Consulate until the priority date is current under the final action chart.