Monday, September 14, 2009

The Most Optimistic Scenario

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.


  1. President Obama on one hand accepts that there is a nursing and primary care physician shortage. Yet without doing anything about the shortage first, he wants to bring in about 40 milllion more under the health care fold.

    I thought Harvard=Higher IQ

  2. hi cris! Finally i found your blog..

  3. Hi Chris! Its been along time that i've not heard from you. It's nice to know that you have your own blog.

  4. It's great to see that everyone found me!

  5. HiChris,

    Sorry for asking repeatedly. If CIR does not come through in the next one or two years, do you think that the congress will address the Nurse bill when the economy improves? My visa screen certificate will expire in 2010 May. Same case may be with many other RNs. None of us know whether we should appear for IELTS again and apply for renewal of visa screen. Your comments will be highly appreciated.

  6. @Ranjani:

    It is difficult to predict beyond CIR. I do think that CIR will be decided, YES or NO, in the next 6 months. I do not think it will be 2 years.

    All that having been said, I do suggest that people keep up their Visa Screens. If you're VS is expiring in May 2010, I would begin the extension process around year's end.

  7. Hi Chris,

    Is the nurse visa bill put forward by Wexler last term a non-entity? Is there a chance he will re-introduce it soon?


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