The thought of visa retrogression can spark panic among anyone pursuing an EB-3 employer-sponsored US visa. When retrogression happens, thousands of social media posts appear almost instantly, and this is not atopic you want to see trending. Every foreign-educated nurse and allied health professional seems to share their frustrations with a situation beyond their control. Some individuals wrongly blame their agency or recruiter and the current US political administration. Some individuals even claim to have ways they've heard of to beat the system.
What should you do during visa retrogression, and who can you trust for information? This article shares seven mistakes we see healthcare professionals repeating during each period of EB-3 visa retrogression. And we have seen this occur multiple times during our almost twenty years operating as a leader in US careers for foreign-trained healthcare professionals.
Mistake #1 - Losing Sight of Your Dream
Staying motivated when your dreams are on hold is easier said than done. We get that. But Health Carousel International has helped individuals overcome seven visa retrogression periods since our founding. Each time we hear the same thing: "It's over," "There's no use," and "What's the point in trying?" The point is to ensure you've done everything you can on your end so when retrogression ends, and it always ends, you're at the front of the line and ready to resume your journey to the United States.
Mistake #2 - Doing Nothing
You must fight the urge to surrender. Beyond the reasons alreadycovered, consider this: plenty of nurses in your situation are counting on youto do nothing. Their chances of reaching America improve as you put less effortinto your own journey. If you dream to come to America, you must stay activeand ensure you've done everything your agency or visa sponsor asks. Have youpassed NCLEX? Have you passed IELTS, or another accepted English proficiency exam?Retrogression doesn't make these tasks any less important.
Even if you are from a country experiencing a period of US visa retrogression,Health Carousel International can file your visa petition with USCIS. *You’ll be given a visa priority date, which reserves your place in the visaqueue. We can continue to process your immigration filing, and when your casehas been made “documentarily qualified” by the National Visa Center, you willbe able to attend your embassy interview as soon as your priority date iscurrent. The important part is to have your visa petition filed and get yourplace in line!
* Health Carousel International isnot currently processing visas for healthcare professionals whose country ofchargeability is India
Mistake #3 - Letting Clinical Skills Get Rusty
The need for experienced nurses and allied health professionals inAmerica continues even if visa retrogression hits. No one can fault you if,while waiting to arrive in the US, you must work at a job that pays more than nursingin your home country. First, however, take action to keep your RN experiencecurrent. A day or two of volunteering each week at a nearby hospital is a goodidea. This experience will separate you from much of your competition when it'stime to interview and select the US healthcare organization where you willwork.
Mistake #4 - Signing With A New or Non-Certified Recruiter
Select carefully if you have not yet signed up with a recruiter oragency. Our best advice is to seek out recruiters who have received the status ofCertified Ethical Recruiter (CERs). CERs have established that they comply withthe standards outlined in the Alliance for Ethical Recruitment Practices Code.More information, including a list of CERs, can be found online at cgfnsalliance.org.
There are risks in trusting your American dream with a new ornon-CERs agency, but it is reasonable to understand why some visa-seekers do.Unfortunately, the news of retrogression is so disheartening that candidatescan be misled or tricked into believing promises that are too good to be true.Don't fall into this trap.
Mistake #5 - Paying for Services
Visa retrogression can bring desperation, and some bad people prey on this. For example, an unreputable agency or recruiter may ask you to pay a fee for a fix to retrogression or speed up your visa application. But there is no fix. No matter what someone tells you, no amount of money will affect your priority date. If you are dealing with a recruiter that mentions paying them to speed up your visa, you should cease working with them immediately. They're hoping you're desperate enough to ditch common sense. But you're not. Stay away from these crooks.
Mistake #6 - Nurses Applying for H-1B Visas
If you can't get an EB-3 visa, then an H-1B visa is a good alternative. Right? Unfortunately, often, this is another opportunity for scammers to prey on the desperate. If you are a nurse, be wary if you are working with a recruiter who states they can get you a US visa other than anEB-3. Using alternative visa types for nurses is only possible in a few circumstances.
DETAIL ON H-1B VISAS FOR NURSES: To qualify for an H-1B visa, your job in the United States must require a bachelor’s degree or five years of experience. Becoming a registered nurse in the United States requires only a two-year associate degree. However, some nursing jobs, like administration, require the nurse to have a bachelor’s degree. But it is not likely that an international nurse will step directly into a nursing management role. That's not to say that international nurses don't become managers - that happens constantly, and they become great nurse leaders! But right away?
If a recruiter encourages you to apply for an H-1B visa during a retrogression period, we advise you to reconsider. They're likely sending you on a wild goose chase. They intend to profit from your journey that ultimately leaves you where you started. Further, the odds of getting a cap H-1B right now is about 20-25 percent, simply because the number of petitions outpaces the current allotment. So be aware of spending more money on an implausible solution.
Mistake #7 - Walking Away from a Good Agency
We may sound selfish here, but we see this all the time. Upset and dejected, candidates will blame their agency or recruiter for their retrogressed priority dates. But aim your frustration properly and avoid hurting your chances of working in America. Know this about staffing agencies - they're frustrated by retrogression too! Retrogression affects them, their US healthcare organization clients, and the patients needing care.
It's important to realize that not all so-called recruiters have your best interests in mind. But when you've signed with an agency you feel comfortable with, is responsive to your needs, and keeps the lines of communication open, stand by them during this time because you'll realize, once retrogression ends, that they've stood by you the entire time.
What to do next?
Healthcare professionals already contracted with Health Carousel International should get in touch with their currently assigned representative with any visa, processing, or retrogression-related questions.
If you dream of living and working in the US as a nurse but have yet to start your journey, we encourage you not to let visa retrogression put your dreams on hold. The process of coming to the US is complicated and lengthy. Even when there is no visa retrogression, it typically takes months before our candidates even meet the criteria to file their EB-3 visa application. There is a good but unknown chance that the US Visa Bulletin will again report an end of visa retrogression for many countries before you reach the visa filing milestone.
Retrogression does inevitably end. And the individuals who follow the advice in this article will be at the front of the US immigration line when it does.