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Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration


  1. USCIS Will Accept Bachelors PT/OT

    by , 05-27-2009 at 07:41 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)

    I am pleased to report that we have been successful in the goal of or PT/OT lawsuit! As you can see from this Memorandum, going forward the USCIS will approve all PT/OTs provided that the beneficiary holds at least a Bachelors degree.

    Later today or tomorrow, the USCIS is going to formally release this Memorandum. (UPDATE: It has been posted). An advance copy was sent to us last night by the DHS' lawyer in our lawsuit. The Memorandum says exactly what we hoped it would: if a PT/OT (or any healthcare worker) holds a valid unrestricted license, then the USCIS adjudicating officer should not look past the license and "the beneficiary will be considered to meet the qualifications to perform services in a specialty occupation."

    The Memorandum also clarifies what happens if the worker is not in possession of a state license. The USCIS adjudicating officer must first determine the state requirements. Then if the only thing prohibiting the worker from obtaining the license is a SSN or valid immigration status and/or being physically present in the US, then the USCIS should approve the case for one years' time.

    We knew the law was on our side and so it is good to see the USCIS make the proper determination. All cap-subject H-1 cases should be approved, as we'd hoped when we started this.

    -Chris Musillo
  2. ENSRA Next Steps

    by , 05-26-2009 at 06:58 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    Last week Reps. Wexler (D-FL) and Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act (HR 2536). While this is but one step in the legislative process, it is a critical first step. The American system has many built in "checks and balances" designed to insure that legislation is aptly considered.

    The Bill will be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. That Committee may refer it to subcommittee(s). This process is at the complete discretion of the leaders of that committee.

    After the Committee has passed the bill, the bill can get offered for a vote to the House of Representatives, which is the lower American legislative body. Whether a vote is taken or not is subject to the Speaker of the House. If approved by the House, the Senate must then consider the legislation.

    Upon approval from both the House and the Senate, the bill is immediately offered to the President who will almost certainly sign the bill into law. From time to time, the President can veto bills that have been passed by the Senate and the House, but this is a controversial political move and not one likely to be used against the ENSRA.

    As you can tell the process is lengthy. For smaller legislation it is often difficult to clear all of the hurdles in one two-year Congressional term.

    However, there is a second "shortcut" process. A bill may be attached to a bigger piece of legislation. This is the process that was used in 2005 to get the Schedule A EX visa bill passed. The Schedule A EX visa bill was attached to the 2005 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act.

    The process of attaching a smaller bill to a larger one has a formal process of an amendment being offered and accepted. The formal process is, however, secondary to the informal process, which includes much behind the scene dialoging with powerful political leaders.

    To some degree, the informal process began three years ago when it became apparent that the retrogression would resurface. The efforts have continued.

    If you would like to aid in this process, and it is imperative that everyone who has a vested interest in the process does so. Please take the following steps:

    If you are a hospital, long term care facility, please email your Representative. Here is a link to the Representative list. Here is the template email that you can send.

    If you are a staffing company, please email your Representative. But use this template email.

    If you are an international nurse or Physical Therapist, then please contact your sponsoring hospital and/or staffing company and make sure that they are sending in these emails.

    If you are an US citizen who believes that increased funding for domestic nurse schooling funded by a short-term visa program for these healthcare workers, then please send in this email to your Representative.

    -Chris Musillo
  3. ENSRA Introduced

    by , 05-21-2009 at 08:37 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)

    Yesterday Rep. Wexler (D-FL) introduced the Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act (HR 2536). The preliminary copies that I have seen show the bill to be largely similar to last term's HR 5924. Once the GPO officially publishes the bill, I will provide a link and explain what the next steps are/ timing / etc.

    -Chris Musillo
  4. H-1B Thoughts

    by , 05-20-2009 at 06:13 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    On May 15 the USCIS announced that it has received 45,500 H-1B petitions counting toward the Congressionally-mandated 65,000 cap; this is only 500 more than the April 27 figure. This implies that H-1B petitions continue to slow. It also implies that the idea that the H-1B is used to lower wages and replace US workers is wildly overblown. As I've previously said, if that was the case there shouldn't be any material drop in H-1B usage.
    The Masters cap has received the full subscription of 20,000 petitions. USCIS continues to accept Masters cases since their experience is that not all accepted cases will be approvable. As students graduate from university in late May and June, it is expected that there will be an uptick in H-1B usage. The degree of the uptick is unknown at this point. If the uptick is smaller than expected, there is a chance that the H-1B cap could remain open all summer and maybe even into the fall. On the other hand, the economy does show some flares of stability and so H-1B usage by May/June graduates could be notable.
    For the healthcare industry, the H-1B remains an option to fill employment gaps in occupational shortages. As a general rule if the position requires a Bachelors degree for licensure, then the position is appropriate for an H-1B visa. Of course, the proposed worker must hold the requisite degree.
    Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists remain viable for H-1B visas. Cases filed at the Vermont Service Center are being approved as they should be. However inconsistent results out of the California Service Center continue to frustrate employers.
    USCIS Chief of Service Center Operations has recently confirmed that "USCIS does not currently have a policy that employers filing H-1b petitions for physical and occupational therapists must require the minimum of a Masters Degree for such positions to qualify as specialty occupations." This pronouncement was made in early May, and so it remains to be seen whether or not the California Service Center will adhere to the statement from their superiors in Washington D.C.
    Some registered nursing positions are appropriate for H-1B visas as well. In broad strokes, the H-1B is appropriate for RN positions if either:
    1. The hospital is offering the nurse a position as a Clinical nurse specialist (CNS), Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), Certified nurse-midwife (CNM), or a Certified nurse practitioner (APRN-certified) Critical care and she holds the certification;
    2. The nurse will be working in an Administrative position ordinarily associated with a Bachelors degree, such as Charge Nurse or Nurse Manager;
    3. The nurse will be working in one of these specialties: peri-operative, school health, occupational health, rehabilitation nursing, emergency room nursing, critical care, operating room, oncology and pediatrics.
    The hospital must attest that these roles are only offered to those with Bachelors degrees.
    -Chris Musillo
  5. May BIM

    by , 05-17-2009 at 12:04 PM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)

    HLG has just published its Business Immigration Monthly for May.

    May 2009 Headlines:
    Feature Article: The New DOL iCert System
    June Visa Bulletin
    H-1 Cap News
    ...and more

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