TWO NEW NURSE BILLS INTRODUCED
Two recent bills have been introduced in the US Congress, both of which purport to ease the immigration process for healthcare professionals.
HR 1929 has been introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). Rep. Sensenbrenner has long been harsh on legalization of the undocumented, but sensible on immigration for professionals. Rep. Sensenbrenner has submitted versions of HR 1929 in past Congressional sessions, although none have ultimately become law. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) is a co-sponsor of the bill.
HR 1929 calls for 20,000 immigrant visas to be issued to Registered Nurses.Nurse's immediate families would also get immediate immigrant visas, but they would not count against the 20,000 quota. In order to use these special visas, employers would be charged an additional $1,500, which would go to funding US nursing programs. These visas also would be available for Physical Therapists. This bill is very similar to several prior bills, notably the Schedule EX visa in the mid-2000s that allowed a one-time visa quota of 50,000 visas for nurses and their families.
While MU applauds the introduction of HR 1929, we expect that the bill will not be enacted into law.
HR 1933 has been introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas. Like Rep. Sensenbrenner, Rep. Smith has long been harsh on legalization of the undocumented, but sensible on immigration for professionals. Rep. Smith's bill calls for the revival of the H-1C program. The H-1C program had been around since the mid-1990s and allowed 14 special hospitals the opportunity to employ nurses. These 14 hospitals are mainly in Texas, which explain Rep. Smith's sponsorship. The H-1C expired in December 2009 and was not reenacted.
MU is in favor of passage of HR 1933, but we are also skeptical that the bill can become law.