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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

NURSE IMMIGRATION MEASURE INCLUDED IN SENATE BUDGET BILL

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.

A nurse immigration relief amendment was included by unanimous consent in a voice vote this evening. Nursing immigration ground to a halt earlier this year because of retrogression in the EB-3 green card category, the depletion of a 2005 allotment of 50,000 green cards for nurses and the lack of a non-immigrant visa category for nurses. The Senate added the measure as an amendment to H.R. 3043, the HHS-Labor budget bill. Amendment 3404, Senator Charles Schumer's Amendment, was passed as amended by Amendment 3449, introduced by Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin. I am awaiting the final text of 3449, but I have what I believe is the final language. The key provisions are as follows:



  • 61,000 immigrant visas for Schedule A occupations (nurses and physical
    therapists) and their immediate family members; the numbers are drawn
    from unused green cards from prior years


  • A $1500 additional fee for each of these green cards to be paid as a condition of approval of the adjustment application by USCIS or issuance of the visa by the State Department; waiver for certain facilities in disaster areas or HHS-designated halth professional shortage areas.


  • Brain drain provision one: nurses, physicians and other health care workers must attest that they do not owe their native country any financial obligation tied to their health care worker education (an exception is made if the obligation was incurred by coercion or in the case of undue hardship); this provision shall take effect 180 days after passage of the bill


  • A grant program is created to allow US nursing schools to increase the number of nursing faculty and students


  • Brain drain provision two: Permanent resident health care workers (including doctors and nurses) will get credit toward naturalization and not be deemed to have abandoned permanent residency during time spent working in the following countries (a list will be published by DOS within six months (and DHS must publish rules within six months) of enactment of the legislation and updated annually):
    • countries eligible for International Development Association assistance or


    • which are classified as "lower middle income countries" in the World Development Report for Reconstruction and Development published by the Bank for Reconstruction and Development or


    • a country determined jointly by DHS and DOS to be qualified due to special circumstances such as natural disasters or public health emergencies


In case people miss it, the brain drain provisions cover doctors as well as other health care workers.



Note that the bill still has some key hurdles including making it out of a House-Senate conference committee and past a presidential veto. But passage on the Senate floor was considered the biggest obstacle.



It's tough to predict how long 61,000 will last, but if the 50,000's use is an indicator, we'll be at this again in about 18 months or so.

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Comments

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  1. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Sorry for the delay in getting this on the site, but hopefully people will appreciate the detailed summary.

    On a side note, for all the people complaining that illegal immigrants are getting better treatment than legal immigrants, note that the first major immigration bill passed by the Senate this year was to provide 10s of 1000s of green cards to a key shortage profession. Note also that Senator Durbin played a key role in passage of this bill. He was responsible for the two brain drain provisions. The loan payback provision is reasonable and the citizenship residency credit is a very cool idea.
  2. Sid's Avatar
    The residency credit is indeed a very cool idea. It'll be even cooler if it is extended to all EB immigrants. I would love to work in India for the next few years for both personal and professional reasons without abandoning my AOS application.

    Good news for all nurses waiting for this reform.
  3. legal-forever-waiting-forever's Avatar
    Sid,

    read carefully, you have to have a GC to go home and it counts against naturalization ie citizenship waiting time.
    For those of us with a mirage for a GC, it means little..physician or not.
  4. 's Avatar
    Why aren't nurses eligible for H1B visas?

    Seems to me the solution to this recurring dance with Schedule-A recapture is to make nurses eligible for the H1B visa.
  5. Jun's Avatar
    Nurses are not qualified for H1B because in the US, nurses don't have to be Bachelors Deg. holders. Although foreign nurses are BS. Nursing graduate, treatment still is not.

    RN (Registered Nurse) - not necessarily a bachelor degree
    BSN (BS Nursing) - Bachelor Degree, Supervisory position ---> this qualifies but very hard to get Labor Certification....
  6. sri's Avatar
    So does this mean that the brain drain provisions are pertinent to physicians but the visa numbers are not?
    Physicians even those doing 5yr NIW underserved area service are not included in schedule A category. So this is of no benefit to solve this issue basically.
  7. sri's Avatar
    So does this mean that the brain drain provisions are pertinent to physicians but the visa numbers are not?
    Physicians even those doing 5yr NIW underserved area service are not included in schedule A category. So this is of no benefit to solve this issue basically.
  8. sri's Avatar
    So does this mean that the brain drain provisions are pertinent to physicians but the visa numbers are not?
    Physicians even those doing 5yr NIW underserved area service are not included in schedule A category. So this is of no benefit to solve this issue basically.
  9. sri's Avatar
    So does this mean that the brain drain provisions are pertinent to physicians but the visa numbers are not?
    Physicians even those doing 5yr NIW underserved area service are not included in schedule A category. So this is of no benefit to solve this issue basically.
  10. sri's Avatar
    So does this mean that the brain drain provisions are pertinent to physicians but the visa numbers are not?
    Physicians even those doing 5yr NIW underserved area service are not included in schedule A category. So this is of no benefit to solve this issue basically.
  11. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    "Why aren't nurses eligible for H1B visas?

    Seems to me the solution to this recurring dance with Schedule-A recapture is to make nurses eligible for the H1B visa."

    Good question. I think they should be, but USCIS takes the position that because state license rules only require an associates degree (which is a partial response to the shortage itself), nurses are not specialty occupations.
  12. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    "So does this mean that the brain drain provisions are pertinent to physicians but the visa numbers are not? Physicians even those doing 5yr NIW underserved area service are not included in schedule A category. So this is of no benefit to solve this issue basically."

    Sri - Yes. Hopefully, the MDs will get numbers in another piece of legislation and there are many working toward that goal.
  13. john's Avatar
    this is good news. all those hard working ppl. congratulations to you. you have crossed the first line. Looks like the environment is changing atleast witht the election in the front. But i wont be surprised to see the dream bill failing today...
    Greg, can you help here.. we need a lawyer worded letter to send to all the senators/ house for their support on the upcoming bill on EB's. can you post a general format for us so people can copy paste this into senators sites.
    thanks
  14. 's Avatar
    Does any one know when the visas will actually become available if this bill survives?
  15. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    "Does any one know when the visas will actually become available if this bill survives?"

    In theory, immediately. But DOS took about two months to get things going the last time Congress did this.
  16. Jammy's Avatar
    Hi greg,

    If i'm a nurse and i already submited my application for AOS as EB3 in july 2nd. Can i benifit from the 61,000 visas?
  17. Limbo's Avatar
    "On a side note, for all the people complaining that illegal immigrants are getting better treatment than legal immigrants, note that the first major immigration bill passed by the Senate this year was to provide 10s of 1000s of green cards to a key shortage profession. Note also that Senator Durbin played a key role in passage of this bill"

    Greg, glad to be proven wrong on this one :-)

    But maybe the criticism was starting to hurt. I don't think the Dems want to go into 2008 having accomplished nothing in the senate. Keeping my fingers crossed that this will make it passed the house and the president!

    Thanks for the info.
  18. very unfair to H1-B EB immigrants's Avatar
    While the H1-B EB immigrants keep waiting in big lines stretching
    back 6 years pleading for recapture of these visas wasted by
    USCIS inefficiency, the Nursing lobby come along and takes away
    chunks of these visas. 50K the first time, 61K now. Soon there
    will be nothing left for the EB guys to recapture...

    This is very unfair to them. If Nursing is a special need that
    requires special attention now, why cant congress allocate a
    new set of visas? Recapture is the only easy way to lower the
    pain of retrogression, and that medicine is also slowly being
    taken away by the lawmakers...
  19. aykife's Avatar
    What is the latest concerning the schedule A nurses. what about people awaiting their Packet 4/ consular interview appointment date?, will they also be able to enjoy from the recaputered visas?, how soon would the schedule A cateogry start appearing on the visa bullettin again/, precisly what month's visa bullettin?
  20. Andy's Avatar
    This bill has to pass the veto threat....if it goes smooth sailing, nurses could start seeing the new Schedule A allocation starting January '08.
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