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Retrogression in Philippine Family Preferences

The December 2010 Visa Bulletin released by the Department of State shows a significant retrogression of the Family 2B, Third, and Fourth preference categories for the Philippines. The retrogression is due to the sudden increase in the demand for visa numbers from applicants with very early priority dates.

The cut-off dates will move back as follows: 2B preference – 2 years and 6 months (from September 1, 2002 to March 1, 2000); 3rd preference – 2 years and 8 months (from March 1, 1995 to July 1, 1992); 4th preference – 3 years and 3 months (from April 1, 1991 to January 1, 1988).

Because of the annual numerical limitation of visa numbers, cut-off dates are established for oversubscribed categories. If an applicant’s priority date is before the cut-off date stated in the monthly visa bulletin, a visa number is immediately available. If the priority date comes on or after the cut-off date, the applicant needs to wait until the priority date becomes current.

The 2B preference category refers to unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or older) of lawful permanent residents. The 3rd preference refers to married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. The 4th preference pertains to brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.

The 1st and 2A family preferences will not retrogress. The 1st preference category, which refers to unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, will show the same cut-off date of April 1, 1997 as it was in the November visa bulletin. The 2A preference, which refers to spouses and children (less than 21 years old) of permanent residents, will advance to August 1, 2010.

The retrogression will occur after monthly jumps that started last April. Because of the low demand for visa numbers in the previous months, the Department of State increased the allocation pace and this was intended to generate visa number demand so that the annual numerical limits could be fully utilized.

The family 2B, 3rd and 4th preferences greatly advanced as a result, but this rapid advance could not continue indefinitely. At some point, it must slow down, stop or retrogress. It is hard to predict how long this retrogression will last.

In light of this development, beneficiaries of Philippines family-based 2B, 3rd and 4th preference who have priority dates earlier than September 1, 2002, March 1, 1995 and April 1, 1991, and who are currently in the U.S., must file their adjustment application on or before November 30, 2010 in order to get certain interim immigration benefits such as employment authorization. Those with pending adjustment applications will be allowed to remain in the U.S. and work here until the adjudication of their adjustment applications.

Eligible to file for adjustment of status are those lawfully present in the United States or those who are beneficiaries under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. To be covered under Section 245(i), an alien must be the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition or labor certification filed on or before April 30, 2001. If the visa petition or labor certification was filed between January 14, 1998 and April 30, 2001, the alien must prove that he/she was in the U.S. on December 21, 2000.

Among the documents required to file for adjustment of status, in addition to Form I-485 and related forms, are the applicant’s photographs, medical examination report, affidavit of support, copy of passport and I-94, copy of birth certificate, and if applicable, copy of the applicant’s marriage certificate and official proof of termination of any prior marriage.

One thought on “Retrogression in Philippine Family Preferences

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