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Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration

The Most Optimistic Scenario

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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.

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  1. Adi's Avatar

    Thanks for the update. Really appreciate it. Any chance of piecemeal legislation if CIR does not get through by March 2010?
  2. Chris Musillo's Avatar
    @Adi- There is always a chance, but I don't think so.
  3. matinqiu's Avatar
    I hope President Obama, senators and congress people to realize how serious situations of health care is. In next several months, Flu H1N1 will torture a lot of peoples' lives. According CDC predict, Flu H1N1 will infect 50% Americans, send 1.8 million Americans to hospital as in-patient status, and Kill 30000-90000 Americans. I do not believe the U.S. government ready for the above statistics. Hospitals need not only medications, but also nurses to cope with this serious crisis. Flu H1N1 won't wait Obama's CIR, and torture people or take people's live away very fast. As a result, Pls push nursing bill (HR2536) ASAP, because this bill can save a lot of people's lives.
  4. Rob's Avatar
    Hi Chris, Can I ask you one question? I am from India and my PD is Dec 2004. My visa screen cerificate is expiring this month. What should I do if it expires? I need IELTS to renew it... it seems I can't pass it within one month. Can I apply a fresh visa screen certificate if it expires? Can you pls. tell.
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