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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

BIPARTISAN NURSING IMMIGRATION RELIEF BILL INTRODUCED

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Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) have introduced H.R. 5924, the Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act. This bill has long been overdue. The US has a dire nursing shortage that is a serious threat to the nation's health care. Nurses lack a non-immigrant visa category and are now stuck in multi-year backlogs to get green cards.



I've been involved behind the scenes with advocacy work on Capitol Hill on this issue for several years and can tell you that an incredible amount of work by a number of people has gone in to producing this bill. And it is no small feat getting Congressman Sensenbrenner, known for being tough on immigration, to be a co-sponsor.



The bill will take nurses out of the green card caps until 2011 with a limit of 20,000 principle applicants per year. This means that nurses will not take green cards away from others currently queued up and if the green card recapture legislation I wrote about last week passes, removing nurses from the competition for those recaptured visas is even better news for those currently waiting on a green card.



Nursing unions and others concerned about training more US nurses will also be pleased with the addition of a $1500 fee in nurse immigration cases that will go toward nursing education initiatives to help make it possible the US to not be as reliant on foreign-born RNs. Employers in disaster areas or designated health professional shortage areas will be exempt.



One provision I like in the bill will allow nurses and doctors who go and work in impoverished countries after getting their green cards to get residency credit toward naturalizing.



Here's a copy of the bill. Download h.R. 5924.pdf

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  1. AC's Avatar
    Hi Greg,

    Its great news. Can you give a time estimate as to when this could be debated and finally become a law. Also, are the chances for final approval brighter than in the past? Thanks.
  2. Nurse's Avatar
    Is CHC opposing this bill too? I am not surprised if they ...
  3. limbo's Avatar
    Wow! Thanks for your efforts on this Greg. The shortage is a source of misery for hospitals and other health care employers and nurses themselves who are overworked to the point of it being dangerous to patients.

    I think the 20,000 yearly cap is reasonable and responsible, and the money going to train American nurses will be great for Americans wanting to get into the profession. Having a relatively small number of GCs for nurses each year will mean an orderly integration of new nurses over time, rather that a huge flood all at onse.

    As you mentioned, it will take tens of thousands of nurses out of eb3 and make things better for other who are waiting in that category. This is ingeniously crafted legislation as it makes so many winners and really no one loses.

    I won't even mention the dreaded CHC. Let's hope common sense prevails here.
  4. RN's Avatar
    Greg,

    A few questions immediately come to mind which I couldn't find answers to by reading the pdf you supplied:

    -Does this only apply to nurses using Consular Processing as opposed to AOS? Graduates from U.S. nursing schools for example could apply for AOS if they are in OPT. These potential applicants could number in the thousands.

    -What about nurses who are waiting for AOS? Would all these i-485s need to be processed before CP applicants who applied later get processed? It would be unfair if new CP applications can jump ahead of those retrogressed waiting for i-485 approval.

    -How many RNs are currently waiting for i-485 AOS? They may take a big chunk of the 20,000 allocated in the first year.

    -What happens when the 20000 visas are used up in a given year, will the new category retrogress again each year after this happens?

    Thanks!
  5. EB3's Avatar
    "Nurses lack a non-immigrant visa category..." Siskind's post misstates the law, as it purposely neglects to reference the H-2C program. See Siskind's own post at http://visalawhealth.blogspot.com/2006/12/president-signs-h-2c-nurse-visa.html. Yes, it's limited in utility, but the necessary fixes would be much simpler than the excessive and unnecessary provisions of this bill.
  6. RN's Avatar
    "Yes, it's limited in utility, but the necessary fixes would be much simpler than the excessive and unnecessary provisions of this bill"

    20,000 nurses/year is excessive? What do you base your opinion on may I ask? Jealousy I'm sure.
  7. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    EB-3 - How many nurses are permitted per year under the H-2C? Hint - It's less than the nursing staff of a large hospital. There is no non-immigrant option for 99% of nurses.
  8. RN's Avatar
    I think I've figured it out. There is no retrogression for Schedule A, so all AOS will be processed (a relatively small number). The 20,000 applies to CP only.

    Does this sound about right?
  9. George Chell's Avatar
    Double the Pay, argue Stein and Kirkorian..of course the morons would not tell you that the cost would be passed on to the consumer, the insurance may not pay, throwing seniors on the streets. In other words, shortage of nurses at reasonable cost, would mean in the short run we all will be dead.
  10. indianGuy's Avatar
    "Wow! Thanks for your efforts on this Greg. The shortage is a source of misery for hospitals and other health care employers and nurses themselves who are overworked to the point of it being dangerous to patients. " - posted by limbo

    Wow! Not only do foreign nurses care about the dying patients in US hospitals, they feel so concerned about US nurses being overworked. Awww. I guess we should all be eternally grateful that they care so much for us. What about dying patients and overworked nurses in Indian and other third world countries' hospitals you ask? Oh come on now. Who cares about them anyway.

    "20,000 nurses/year is excessive? What do you base your opinion on may I ask? Jealousy I'm sure." - posted by RN

    What jealousy? We are just so grateful to you. With my voice choking and tears welling in my eyes all I can manage to say is "Thank you! Thank you for caring so much for us."
  11. RN's Avatar
    "What jealousy? We are just so grateful to you. With my voice choking and tears welling in my eyes all I can manage to say is "Thank you! Thank you for caring so much for us."

    Greg, me thinks you may have some trolls haunting this site with the sole aim of sowing discord and stirring up trouble.

    Actually, I am pretty close to getting my green card already, so from a completely selfish viewpoint, I would like to see the door closed behind me. The shortage is good for my pocketbook. But you know, some of us actually want to see a policy that makes sense for everyone involved even if it costs me a little personally. Try to rise above for once man.

  12. George Chell's Avatar
    "Actually, I am pretty close to getting my green card already, so from a completely selfish viewpoint, I would like to see the door closed behind me. The shortage is good for my pocketbook."

    Not exactly. Basic health economics. The rise in cost will be passed on to the consumer or health insurance, which will promptly drop the coverage..which means the patients cannot afford to pay. This would mean fewer patients and layoffs of nurses. Of course, the patients, especially the poor seniors would be left to die, which is exactly what at least one anti-immigration individual wants..his name is Richard Lamm, the former Governor of Colorado. Twenty years ago he said that the seniors would do us all a favor by dying. I am pretty sure he also thinks that fewer the immigrant nurses, fewer the overall nurses which means seniors would die off quickly, which means fewer seniors in the population...in other words, in the short run we all will be dead! I am certain that is exactly what FAIR and CIS also want.
  13. 's Avatar
    Is Nursing a STEM occupation? Thanks.
  14. EB3's Avatar
    "EB-3 - How many nurses are permitted per year under the H-2C? Hint - It's less than the nursing staff of a large hospital. There is no non-immigrant option for 99% of nurses."

    Your original statement is legally inaccurate and misleading, and you know it. I do not need your "hint"; believe me, I am well aware of how many nurses are admitted under H-2C each year. My point was that H-2C could be very easily fixed, but the obsession with the IV route that interested groups have been pushing for years has obscured the easier, and less politically explosive, solution to the supply problem. H-2C, and the very easy fixes that could be made to it, are unfortunately, not adequately understood by GOP House and Senate staffers (hence the bamboozlement of Sensenbrenner).

    Nursing is absolutely not a STEM occupation.
  15. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    EB-3 - No, I stand by my original post - there is no non-immigrant option for most nurses. The H-2C only is available to 500 nurses a year, it is limited to 50 nurses in any state (25 in the small states), only to very large hospitals (190 beds or more), and only in federally designated physician shortage area. The visa is a designer visa designed for a single hospital in Chicago and only a few dozen visas are issued each year because the rules are so tough. It is misleading on your part to suggest this is a real visa option. Changing the H-2C program requires an act of Congress and the same interests lobbying for this bill have pushed for a non-immigrant fix. Nursing unions HATE non-immigrant visas because they think it pushes down wages and they have blocked the change you seem to think is so simple.
  16. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    I just wonder what possessed Sensenbrenner to co-sponsor a series of immigration laws that actually make sense. Is is just that he is consumed by a desire to push any immigration laws, which Dems have been able to channel into the right direction, or is he just trying to gain political points, so he is free to go bananas again and push some draconian nonsense?
  17. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    And, yeah, if someone know what Sensenbrenner's been smoking, we need to make sure Durbin gets a sniff of that too!
  18. RN's Avatar
    "Not exactly. Basic health economic"

    Actually I was being sarcastic and making fun of the protectionists. My hospital just lost the contract with one of the biggest insurers in the country because my hospital would have lost money based on what they would have paid us for services rendered.

    We are one of only two level one trauma centers in the state, and have a world renowned neurology department that does highly specialized procedures done nowhere else.

  19. Dan's Avatar
    This is great news. I hope this will pass soon as we really need more nurses. Hospitals are being forced to accept the demand of the union for a higher salary at the expense of the sick and old people. Insurance can only pay as much and so is Medicare.

    I would say, foreign nurses will not lower the salary of nurses but augment the insufficient number of nurses in the country. I read somewhere that the shortage could reach seven figures come 2015.
  20. George Chell's Avatar
    "I just wonder what possessed Sensenbrenner to co-sponsor a series of immigration laws that actually make sense."

    May be the loss of Hastert's seat by the anti-immigrant Jim Obwerweis put the fear of God in him! Did you note that the anti-immigrant Republicans backed by racists such as Kirkorian and Stein have not been doing well lately?
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