On December 28, 2004, AILA Infonet published an undated Interoffice Memo from William Yates, the Associate Director of Operations of the USCIS, to the Directors of regional, service center, and district offices. The memo pointed out that the January 2005 Visa Bulletin published by the Department of State indicates that visa availability under the EB-3 category for applicants from mainland China, India, and the Philippines has regressed to January 1, 2002. The memo also rescinds the 03/03/04 memo from Fujie Ohata, Director of Service Center Operations, regarding procedure instruction for concurrent adjudication of concurrently filed I-140 and I-485.
What the regression means is that only applicants with priority date prior to January 1, 2002 can file I-485 now. As a result of the regression, EB-3 applicants from those three countries will have to file their I-140s first after obtaining labor certification approval. I-485s filed before December 30, 2004 will not be affected by the regression, but all I-485 for EB-3 filed or concurrently filed after December 30, 2004 will be returned. Consequently, the applicant will not be able to change employment soon as allowed by AC21 Act, which provides that an applicant can change employment 180 days after the I-485 has been pending.
As the memo points out, the regression was caused by the limits on the allocation of immigrant visa numbers to applicants from these three countries during the second quarter of FY 2005 due to the high demand for EB-3 category visas in these countries. Without further notice, we are not able to predict when the visa bulletin for this category will be current again. With the implementation of PERM, however, there is a possibility that the regression will get worse