FY 2009: Will it be a year of retrogression?

For the many green card aspirants who were waiting with baited breath for the October 2008 Visa Bulletin, hoping for it to breathe new life into the retrogressed visa categories, it turned out to be a sorely disappointing beginning of a new Fiscal Year.

Who Got the Short end?

Nationals of India and China in the Employment Based Second category for green cards woke up to a shock of severe retrogression, from August 1st 2006 in September Visa Bulletin to April 1, 2004. And since EB-2 was steadily moving forward in FY 2008, such severe retrogression not really expected right at the beginning of a new fiscal year.

The Employment Based Third Category was not spared either.  This category was unavailable during whole of 2008 summer and the October 2008 Bulletin was expected to make the numbers available. The category became available of course, but with the severely retrogressed cutoff dates – for China October 1, 2001; for India July 1, 2001 and Mexico fared marginally better at July 1, 2002. The Worldwide category slipped to January 1, 2005.

Why the Retrogression so early?

The reason given in the Visa Bulletin is that since FY2008 saw the categories having cutoff dates moving forward steadily, the resulting flow of applications have now jammed up the backlog line and eaten into the estimate of available visa numbers. So the dates are being retrogressed to manage the numbers. Haven’t heard this before? It seems that despite facing the same situation again and again, the glitches in the green card processing systems refused to be solved.

With US economy tittering at the edge of financial crisis and employers being forced to layoff, these four and five years wait could become very costly for employees. Even employers who are sponsoring these candidates expecting them to get green cards in a year or two will now be facing the reality that their employees may be stuck in the system for years. The October Visa bulletin does not predict any forward movement in near future either. All we can tell our readers is that keep your fingers crossed and proactively pursue your local senators to push for new reforms and legislations sitting in the back burner that can ease the situation for some.