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Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration

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  1. Legislative Update for MDs

    by , 09-29-2009 at 06:00 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    by Chris Musillo
     
    Last week the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution that if passed will extend the doctor's Conrad 30 program, which provides a common path for doctor immigration. The Conrad 30 program provides each U.S. state with 30 waivers for J-1 physicians each fiscal year.

    The legislation also includes extensions of the EB-5. E-Verify, and Religious Worker programs. These extensions, which are embedded in the annual government funding legislation is now headed to the Senate where it is expected to be considered today. The legislation is expected to pass before October 1, 2009, or else the government's funding will dry up.

    The legislation does not contain any "new" legislation, such as H.R.2536 - Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act. Nursing and allied healthcare occupational visa reform is more likely to happen in early 2010.
  2. New USCIS Site

    by , 09-24-2009 at 05:36 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)

    by Chris Musillo
    On Tuesday I was asked to participate in a call with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. The Director reached out to several prominent bloggers. The purpose of the call was to get feedback on the new USCIS website. To the Director's credit, he participated directly on the call. He answered questions directly from the bloggers and had several USCIS officials there to help him with some of the details that the director of a huge agency could not possibly know.

    The new site has some very nice features. The most immediate improvement is that the site is clean and user-friendly. The updates to the Case Status section are commendable. Looking ahead, the Director explained that in May 2010 the site will alllow for interactive email service queries.

    The site is still buggy. Many of the new links are not operable at this time; USCIS expects to fix the bugs in the next few days/months. Curiously the webpage URL's are still unusually long. In the future, USCIS expects simplified URLs (e.g. www.uscis.gov/forms instead of http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD. This URL is not a joke!).

    The Director showed a self-deprecating sense of humor. After acknowledging that the link to the Leadership Biography page was not yet fully operable, he coyly remarked that the reason for the delay was because his biography was lengthy and he had not yet finished it.

    But the best message that I heard is that the USCIS took the time to reach out to the community. In the past, USCIS announcements often come with a simple Press Release. This "new" USCIS approach to community outreach is laudable. The Director and his team deserves kudos.
  3. Fewer International Nurses Interested in the US

    by , 09-22-2009 at 06:28 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    by Chris Musillo
    During most of the 2000s, internationally trained nurses made up about 10-15% of all new RNs that came on-line in the US. These numbers disappeared with the onset of retrogression in January 2008. In spite of the retrogression, internationally-trained and educated nurses remained faithful to the US, as evidenced by the fact that internationally-trained RNs continued to take the NCLEX in great numbers.

    In 2006, about 20,907 internationally educated RNs passed the NCLEX exam. In 2007, the volume jumped; 22,827 internationally educated nurses passed the NCLEX exam. With the onset of retrogression, 2008 saw a slight decline; 18,905 internationally educated RNs passed the exam.

    But the latest numbers point to a massive drop in the numbers of internationally educated nurses passing NCLEX. Through June 30, 2009, only 7,236 have passed the exam, which annualizes to 14,472.

    While the US nursing shortage certainly has eased in recent months, economists and government officials all agree that this is a temporary condition. By the end of the next decade the US could be short 250,000 to 1 million nurses, depending on whose estimates you read.

    It is obvious that reasonable visa opportunities for international nurses must happen or else the US is going to find that it has a massive nursing shortage and international nurses are no longer there to fill the gap.




    All statistics in this posting are from the NLCEX Fact Sheets, which are published on NCSBN's webpage.
  4. The Most Optimistic Scenario

    by , 09-14-2009 at 06:09 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    by Chris Musillo
    I was recently asked by a client to offer my opinion on the most optimistic scenario of when we might see healthcare visa reform in the US.

    Sen. Schumer (D-NY) is one of the Senate's leading members and has long made immigration reform a legislative priority. With Sen. Kennedy's passing, the Democratic leadership informally has tapped Sen. Schumer to draft the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) bill. Earlier this summer, he listed his principles for comprehensive immigration.

    Sen. Schumer has long been a proponent of sensible immigration reform, including liberalized visa numbers in occupations that have been in short supply. In 2005 he helped pass the EX visa, which offered 50,000 visas for applicants holding Schedule A occupations and their immediate family members. Schedule A occupations are those occupations that have been certified in short supply by the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL takes its role seriously and looks long-term before it lists and delists occupations from Schedule A. Schedule A presently includes Physical Therapists and Registered Nurses.

    Democratic leadership already has decided that CIR will not be on the agenda until 2010. Whether that happens largely is dependent on President Obama and the Democratic leadership's popularity ratings at the end of 2009. Both ratings have slipped in recent months.

    If the Democrats and Pres. Obama can stabilize or improve their popularity, then it seems likely that they will be able to pass CIR in early 2010. US mid-term elections will take place in November 2010, and so any CIR bill must be done by the spring. No politician will want a CIR bill to drag into the summer of 2010.

    Given that Sen. Schumer's historical position on employment based immigration, it seems more likely than not that the CIR bill will include nurse visa reform. But there still are many hurdles to clear before we get to spring 2010.
  5. October Visa Bulletin Released

    by , 09-09-2009 at 02:45 PM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)


    by Chris Musillo
    The October Visa Bulletin has been released. This is the first quarter of the 2010 US Fiscal Year. The news is not positive.

    EB1: All Current
    EB2: All Current, except China (22MAR05), India (22JAN05)
    EB3: All 01JUN02, except China (22FEB02), India (15APR01), Mexico (01MAY02).

    Based on these processing times, a typical EB3 Nurse takes over 7 years to arrive in the United States, and even longer if the nurse was born in China, India, or Mexico. The US nursing shortage certainly has abated in the last few months, but all credible economists opine that the nursing shortage will reemerge with a vengeance shortly after the economy turns and employment numbers stabilize.

    MU calls on Congress to review the employment based visa immigration policy in this country and offer up an alternative to these ridiculous processing times. There is an excellent piece of legislation that, if passed, will create a special immigrant visa category for nurses. The legislation is H.R.2536 - Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act and is sponsored by Rep. Wexler (D-FL) and Rep. Sensenbrenner (R- WI). The ENSRA is a good place to start.
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