The U.S. State Department announced yesterday it is accepting no more employment-based permanent-resident ("green card") visas for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends on 30 September. A bulletin on the State Department's Web site says that almost all of the 60,000 employment-based visa authorizations for this fiscal year have been used up, a situation it calls "unexpected". An Associated Press story says that the abrupt announcement affects tens of thousands of skilled immigrant workers and their families in the United States.
Only a month ago, State Department issued a visa bulletin that spelled out family and employment preferences, including two employment-based categories affecting many scientists, engineers, and academics. In the June bulletin, 28.6% of the employment-based visas were allocated for "Priority Workers" that include foreign nationals of "extraordinary ability" in science, education, the arts, business or athletics. This category also covers outstanding professors and researchers, as well as business executives subject to transfer to the United States.
Another 28.6% of the employment-based visas were allocated to foreign professionals
with advanced degrees and other persons considered to have "exceptional
ability." This category includes foreign nationals with exceptional
ability in the sciences, arts, and business. It also covers advanced
degreed professionals and physicians that agree to practice medicine in
underserved areas of the United States.
A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web page, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, describes these employment-based visa categories.