Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new and exciting bill called “the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act” that would speed up the process for nurses and doctors to obtain their green cards.
Keep on watching for more information.
The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act was introduced by Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Todd Young (R-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Chris Coons (D-DE) to increase the number of doctors and nurses available to meet the demand of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
While this bill is only a proposal for the time being, it is a great step in the right direction for the future of highly skilled foreign medical professionals. To become law, the bill must be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. The bill is exciting because it is likely to have bipartisan support and has great potential to become law.
Why was the bill passed?
Currently, significant backlogs exist for nurses applying for a green card under the employment-based third preference category (EB-3). As you know Congress has imposed numerical limitations on the number of green cards that can be issued for immigrant workers. For EB-3 there is a waiting period of several years for green cards to become for EB-3 workers, even those with approved I-140 who are prevented from entering the United States because of these numerical limitations. At the moment, the priority date for nurses under EB-3 is stuck around January 2017 which for many nurses means a very long waiting period.
The Health Care Workforce Resilience Act was proposed to alleviate the strain on the U.S. healthcare system. The United States is currently at the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic and has an urgent need for doctors and nurses to help flatten the curve.
What does the proposal say?
The bill would authorize USCIS to “recapture” up to 25,000 immigrant visas for nurses and 15,000 immigrant visas for doctors. Additional immigrant visas would also be recaptured for the families of these medical professionals so that principal applicants and their family members can obtain their green cards at the same time.
This recapturing of unused visas in other preference categories would eliminate the backlog for nurses and doctors with approved I-140’s who are seeking an employment-based green card.
Who would be eligible?
Doctors and nurses with approved I-140’s would be able to claim one of these recaptured green cards. All medical professionals would still need to meet licensing requirements, pay the required filing fees, and clear the national security and criminal background check before receiving a recaptured green card. Employers of medical professionals would also be required to attest that the medical professional’s green card would not displace United States workers.
Where would the recaptured visas come from?
Recaptured visas would come from a pool of unused employment-based visas previously authorized by Congress. Immigrant visas would be issued in order of priority date and would not be subject to the country caps. To facilitate timely action, premium processing would be available for qualifying petitions and applications.
The bill would help nurses and doctors obtain their green cards as fast as possible by directing the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State to prioritize visa appointments for fully qualified nurses and physicians to allow them to enter the United States quickly to meet the needs of the health care system.
How long would this process last?
Nurses and doctors with approved I-140’s would be able to claim a “recaptured” visa for as long as the COVID-19 pandemic is occurring. In addition, if the President declares an end to the national emergency, applicants will have 90 days from that date to claim a “recaptured” visa.
What happens next?
The bill will take a few months to go through final amendments by the United States Senate. Thereafter if passed by the Senate the bill would move on to the House of Representatives, where it will need to go through a majority vote. Once passed by both houses of Congress, the bill would move on to the President’s desk. We believe that this bill will form part of a larger piece of legislation providing relief to Americans during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We will keep our readers updated as the bill moves forward.
Visa Options for Physicians
To read more information about current visa options for physicians please click here.
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