Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oddly Timed H-1C Regulations

The Department of Labor has just released final H-1C regulations. The timing of the release is odd in light of the fact that the H-1C program expired on December 20, 2009.

The purpose of the late publication of the regulations is “to ensure worker protections are in place for those nurses currently employed in H-1C status, whose stays may extend beyond December 20, 2009.” Some H-1C nurses are still authorized to work in the US, although that number is shrinking with each day; extensions are no longer approvable with the H-1C program’s expiration.

The Background Information to the regulation includes a lengthy history of the H-1C program. Originally, the H-1C program was conceived as nonimmigrant solution to the nursing shortage. The usual nonimmigrant professional program, the H-1B, has only limited application for registered nurses. But the limits on the H-1C program rendered it inert for all but fourteen hospitals in the US.

There does not seem to be a groundswell of support for a reenactment of the H-1C program, since the nursing shortages have lessened with the onset of the recession. Nevertheless, the H-1C program has been extended several times in the past. It remains to be seen whether the H-1C will rematerialize when the inevitable nursing staffing shortages reemerge.

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