May 27, 2020

Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act would help tens of thousands of foreign-trained physicians obtain their Green Cards faster

At the beginning of May, S.3599 and H.R.6788, otherwise known as the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, was introduced in Congress with the goal of increasing the healthcare workforce in the United States. Specifically, the bill will make previously unused immigrant visa numbers available to both nurses and physicians who either already have an I-140 petition approved or whose I-140 petition is approved within 90 days after the current national emergency declaration ends. The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act has found bipartisan support since its introduction. Over 40 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle have signed on to support America’s healthcare workforce in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Specifically, 25,000 visas will be reserved for nurses while 15,000 visas will be reserved for physicians. Perhaps most critical of all, the visa numbers used under this bill will be exempt from existing per-country limitations. If enacted, this bill would help alleviate the ever-growing backlog that some immigrant categories face.

We are reaching out to you today to ask for your support of the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act which has numerous benefits for medical practices that employ these physicians and nurses. This bill will help our clients grow their workforce to prepare for additional COVID-19 outbreaks, allow your physicians to move to new locations immediately when needed, volunteer their skills during times of crisis, and save medical practices substantial financial resources.

The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act will help bolster the U.S. healthcare workforce as concerns about additional waves or outbreaks of COVID-19 rise. Many foreign-trained healthcare workers hold H-1B status. But H-1B status is employer and location specific. The bureaucratic red tape can make it difficult for employers to quickly place these employees where they are most needed during the rapidly changing pandemic situation. If these healthcare workers were instead able to obtain their Green Cards, they could work at any location.

Another common problem with healthcare workers is that they often are not able to volunteer their time and services during public health crisis because of the limitation of H-1B status. Employees working pursuant to H-1B status must be paid a prevailing wage. As volunteer work is usually unpaid, but still considered “work” under USCIS regulations, healthcare workers are not able to meet the prevailing wage requirements to obtain H-1B status for volunteer work.

The investment in legal and filing fees for immigration services can create budgetary constraints for some medical practices. The Healthcare Worker Resilience Act will also save medical facilities and practices money – a critical resource during the pandemic. Once healthcare workers receive their Green Cards, employers will no longer need to budget for the cost of extending an H-1B employee’s status every few years.

While the Healthcare Workers Resilience Act has gained several co-sponsors over the last few weeks, more support is still needed. We encourage employers to contact their members of Congress today and urge them to not only commit to supporting the Healthcare Workers Resilience Act but to also join as a co-sponsor for this bill. You can find your Representative and Senators here. The American Immigration Lawyers Association also has a direct link available to contact your legislators here.

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