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.

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