Health Carousel Philippines would like to better educate our readers on the specifics of employment-based (EB) visas. Read on to become more knowledgeable on all things related to employment-based visas.

EB-3: The Trusted Visa for Nurses

Why do almost all visa petitions for nurses use the EB-3 visa type? It’s simple. The EB-3 visa maximizes your chance of having your visa petition approved. Here is a bit of information on two other visas types we have seen some agencies attempt to use for foreign-trained nurses.

Do I qualify for an EB-2 visa?

Occasionally, nurses may qualify for an EB-2 visa, however the U.S. position they will be filling must require an advanced degree and several years of experience. This is not the case for 99% of nurse immigration cases filed for staff nurse positions. Ask yourself, would a U.S. nurse be required to have a Master’s degree in nursing to hold the position? If not, then an EB-2 visa is not the best choice.

Why is my friend who is a physical therapist or in IT being filed for an H-1b visa?

H-1b visas are reserved for occupations that require at least a Bachelor’s (four-year degree) to qualify to work in that profession. Although nurses in many parts of the world are required to have a 4-year degree, in the USA the minimum education requirement to become a registered nurse is an Associate’s degree (2-year program). Hence, staff nurses typically do not qualify to file under the H-1b regulations.

The Bottom Line

If an immigration attorney or staffing agency proposes using a visa type other than an EB-3, you need to find out why and inquire about their success at getting alternative visa types approved.

The EB Family of Visas

The EB-3 is but one immigrant visa preference category for United States employment-based permanent residency. It is intended for “skilled workers”, “professionals”, and “other workers”. Also, in the employment-based visa “family” are the EB-1 through EB-5 visa preferences detailed in the table below.

Additionally, EB-3 applicants require a sponsoring employer such as PassportUSA or a U.S. hospital for example. The EB-3 visa eligibility requirements are less stringent than the EB-1 or 2, but the backlog may be longer as a result.

The Employment-Based Visa Supply is Limited

Many foreign workers realize that the supply of H-1b visas is limited to only 65,000 each year. Conversely, relatively few nurses understand that EB-3 visas are also limited.

Here is how it works. The annual numerical limit for all employment-based visas is 140,000. On top of this the number of EB-3 visas are limited to just 28.6% of all employment-based visas (EB-1 through EB-5). So, the number of EB-3 visas available each year is limited to 40,000.

IN ADDITION, a per-country limit exists as well. No country may use more than 7% of the worldwide cap, regardless of the population of the country.

Based on the limits and rules above, the supply of available EB-3 visas for individuals from the Philippines works out to be just 3,000-4,000 per year. And that is for all occupations that qualify for the EB-3 visa – not just nurses!

We have taken certain liberties and made some assumptions in the above equation as there are several “technicalities” that go into determining the actual number of EB-3 visas available per country each year. However, the main point is clear that a seemingly large pool of 140,000 employment-based visas quickly shrinks to around 4,000 or so usable by any single country!

Hence, why visa retrogression, or the “waiting list” for the issuance of approved visa petitions, is all too frequent! Especially for countries with large populations like India and China.

EB-3 Retrogression and the Government Fiscal Year

As detailed above, visa retrogression is simply the waiting period for the issuance of approved visa petitions based on priority dates due to a backlog of visa filings. The U.S. Department of State publishes a monthly Visa Bulletin that provides the most recent date for when a visa is available for different categories of visas by country, including for employment-based visas. Since a visa must be available to be issued and the number of prospective immigrants is greater than the number of visas that are available each year, the waiting period depends on your priority date, type of visa and your home country. As the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency notes on its website explaining visa retrogression, the cut-off dates in each monthly Visa Bulletin usually move forward in time, but not always.

Commonly we see that this waiting period becomes longer in July, August, and September and then shrinks in October through the end of each calendar year.

Why? The U.S. government’s financial cycle is as confusing as many of its laws and regulations. The fiscal cycle and quotas for visas all reset on October 1 at the beginning of the U.S. government’s fiscal year; not January 1 as one might logically think.

As a result, the visa priority dates oftentimes shift back in the summer to avoid exceeding the approved visa quotas. Then on October 1 or shortly thereafter the waiting period declines.

Visa Questions and Assistance

The U.S. immigration process is complex, time consuming and ever-changing. As such, you need to very thoroughly vet your choice of an employment-based visa sponsor.

Whether you have selected Health Carousel Philippines as your sponsor or not, we are here to help. Just post your visa sponsorship question in the comments below or send a private email to ph.recruiter@passportusa.com

We look forward to being your trusted source of U.S. visa and career information!


Health Carousel Philippines is the authorized provider of the PassportUSA program to healthcare professionals in the Philippines and select content on this website has been re-posted with permission from PassportUSA.com.

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