Thursday, August 27, 2009

H-1B For Nurses

I often am asked by employers and nurses, whether they can be sponsored for an H-1B visa.

There are two key concepts:

1. The nurse must hold at least a Bachelors degree in nursing (e.g. BSN); AND
2. The position must normally require a Bachelors degree.

MU has seen the most success in these scenarios:

A. The hospital is offering the nurse a position as a Clinical nurse specialist (CNS), Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), Certified nurse-midwife (CNM), or a Certified nurse practitioner (APRN-certified) Critical care and the nurse holds the certification;

B. If the nurse will be working in an Administrative position ordinarily associated with a Bachelors degree, such as Charge Nurse or Nurse Manager;

C. If the nurse will be working in one of these specialties: peri-operative, school health, occupational health, rehabilitation nursing, emergency room nursing, critical care, operating room, oncology and pediatrics. And the hospital will attest that these roles are only offered to those with Bachelors degrees. Some magnet hospitals have the BSN as its standards, and these make great destination hospitals for H-1 RNs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reform Minded?

Late last week Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano hosted 130 immigration reform leaders at the White House. The purpose of the meeting was to tamp down the growing chorus that the administration was ignoring immigration reform. The President even dropped in. The plan may have worked. Many would-be critics of any CIR legislative delay went and released positive messages shortly after the meeting.

For those interested in healthcare immigration reform, the next few months are critical. If you are interested in liberalizing needed visas for US healthcare workers, now is a good time to meet with your local Congressional delegation, as they are all in their home districts until early September.

Meeting with Congressional representatives is surprisingly easy. All that one needs to do is to place a simple call to the Representative’s office. These phone numbers are readily available on Representatives’ webpage. Everyone who is interested in the US should take the time to contact their Congressional representatives and/or have their friends and family in the US do so.

The message is a simple one:

1. The Department of Labor predicts that the Registered Nurse occupation will grow faster than any other job in the next seven years. (Chart at Table 8 of link).
2. There are not enough US nurse educators to train the next generation of nurses.
3. There is an excellent piece of legislation that, if passed, will create a special immigrant visa category for nurses. The legislation is H.R.2536 - Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act and is sponsored by Rep. Wexler (D-FL) and Rep. Sensenbrenner (R- WI).
4. The legislation calls for 20,000 nurses per year, for three years. An additional $1,500 is added to visa fee. The $90 million that this legislation raises goes directly to US nursing schools who can use the funds to train the next generation of US nurses.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

H-1B Cap History

The recent economic downturn greatly has impacted H-1 filings. As I have explained in the past, these lower numbers provide compelling evidence against the argument that internationally-trained workers are being used to displace American workers and lower US workers salaries. That argument just doesn’t jibe with what is actually happening.

In the first five days of this H-1B season in April, the USCIS says that it received 42,000 H-1B petitions. The total is now about 45,000. This tiny increase in number is attributed to two factors: (i) the tougher measures being employed by both USCIS and the DOS; and (ii) the current economic condition in the US.

H-1B History:

(Note- Fiscal Year runs from October 1 of the prior year until September 30 of the next year. You may file for an H-1B 6 months in advance of the October 1 start of the fiscal year. In other words, the FY2010 H-1B “season” began on April 1, 2009).

FY 2009: Immediate (First week of April 2008)
FY 2008: Immediate (First week of April 2007)
FY 2007: April 1, 2006 - May 26, 2006
FY 2006: April 1, 2005 - August 12, 2005
FY 2005: April 1, 2004 - October 1, 2004
FY 2004: April 1, 2003 - Feb 17, 2004
FY 2003: Not reached (Cap was 195,000)
FY 2002: Not reached (Cap was 195,000)
FY 2001: Not reached (cap was 195,000)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Politics in the Spotlight

President Obama has just announced that the CIR bill, which is long-desired by immigration reformists, will be pushed off until 2010. The President remains committed to the cause but he is concerned that his efforts on health care, global warming, and the financial crisis will be hampered by another major issue like immigration. This strikes a blow against the healthcare immigration community, who was hoping that a CIR bill could be the force behind liberalized healthcare visa reform.

The other political issue in the spotlight is the resignation of Sen. Sen. Martinez (R-FL) and Sen. Bailey-Hutchinson (R-TX). On one hand these two Senators have been general supporters of immigration reform and so their resignations are unwelcome. Sen. Bailey-Hutchison particularly has been a leader on healthcare visa reform.

On the other hand, since both are Republicans, their influence in Senatorial matters is negligible at this point. Also, since they both are from states with increasing immigration populations, it is expected that any replacements will be unlikely to hinder any CIR legislation. To do so would alienate their constituency.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My thoughts on the chances of retrogression relief

As readers of my blog surely are aware, retrogression has made it difficult for nurses to enter the US on the immigrant visa because of the long processing times. There is an excellent piece of legislation that, if passed, will create a special immigrant visa category for nurses. The legislation is H.R.2536 - Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act and is sponsored by Rep. Wexler (D-FL). The bill should allow for nurses to enter the US in about one year's time once the program is up and running.

The key question is whether the ENSRA will ever be acted upon. Presently, the legislation, like all immigration related legislation that isn't deemed critical, has an effective hold on it. Congress would like to address all special immigration at once in a massive Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (CIR). And they would like to do it this fall. Sen. Schumer is taking the lead. The hope is that Sen. Schumer (D-NY) can craft a piece of legislation that will not suffer the same fate as CIR did when it was last offered.

The good news for those in favor of increased nurse visa numbers is that Sen. Schumer has long been a champion of increased nurse visa numbers. In 2005 he led the charge for a special Nurse Exempt visa that was signed into law in May 2005. That bill provided 50,000 visas for nurses and their families. Sen. Schumer is expected to introduce the bill this fall. Because of Sen. Schumer's past work on liberalized nurse visa numbers, I am optimistic that he will either encompass Rep. Wexler's ENSRA or use the principles behind the ENSRA in his CIR.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

End of the Summer Session

The US House has adjourned and will reconvene on Tuesday, September 8. The Senate will adjourn at the end of this week, and return on Monday, September 7. No immigration-related activities are planned for this week, as Sen. Schumer has cancelled the employment-based immigration hearing. The hearing would have spoken to supply shortages. Sen. Schumer has long been a nurse visa bill champion.

When the two houses of Congress return there will be a big push to finalize the Healthcare bill, which isn’t about immigration, but likely will lead to
increased demand for healthcare services in the US. How Congress deals with liberalized healthcare visa rules is an open question at this point. The next few months will shape America’s nurse visa policy for years to come.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pres. Arroyo Meets Pres. Obama

Yesterday Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s met with US President Barack Obama in Washington DC. Ms. Arroyo was the first Southeast Asian President to be greeted at the White House. Ms. Arroyo sought to discuss economic, diplomatic and national security issues.

Philippine Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr urged Ms. Arroyo to press Mr. Obama on nurse immigration issues. GMANews reports that Sen. Pimentel said that if Ms. Arroyo can get "a quota of 20,000 nurses a year, that would be a great economic bonanza for our nurses and their families."

Ms Arroyo’s other engagements on Friday called for meetings with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who has repeatedly called for increased nursing and healthcare visa quotas.

Note on the Death of Fmr. Pres. Aquino. As Philippine readers of this Blog surely know, Former President Corazon Aquino died Friday (Saturday in the Philippines). The Musillo Unkenholt firm recognizes the great leadership that Ms. Aquino played in the “people power” movement in the 1980s and would like Philippine readers to know that we will keep the Aquino family and the Philippine people in our thoughts and prayers.