Musillo Unkenholt is pleased to report that the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act has been introduced into Congress. The HWRA is smart, positive legislation that will increasing the supply of nurses and doctors into the US. These two occupations are among the shortest supplied occupations by US workers. Musillo Unkenholt and the AAIHR have been working closely with these offices for the last two months, assisting congressional staffers in drafting this legislation.
This is our FAQ about the legislation.
How does this help nurses and doctors currently in retrogression?
If the HWRA becomes law, all nurses and doctors whose visa applications are currently retrogressed immediately become current. Likewise, any nurse or doctor whose I-140 is filed any time before 90 days after President Trump’s Emergency Declaration on COVID-19 also receives a retrogression-free visa, although there is an overall quota of 25,000 for RNs and 15,000 for MDs.
What is retrogression?
There are thousands of fully qualified nurses and doctors who have been approved for US green cards but who are not in the US because of “visa retrogression.” “Visa retrogression” is when a fully qualified visa applicant has to wait for a visa to become available because the EB-3 visa category is oversubscribed. Right now, fully qualified Philippine and worldwide nurses must wait four years for a visa appointment because of the visa retrogression. Indian nurses and doctors have a twelve year wait.
This legislation prioritizes fully qualified nurses and doctors by utilizing a portion of the hundreds of thousands of visas that have been authorized by Congress but have gone unused.
Does this legislation add any visas into the quota?
No. This legislation does not add visas to the overall visa quotas. Likewise, it does not take visas from any other occupation.
The HWRA uses visas that Congress had previously authorized, but had gone unused from 1992-2020.
Can spouse and children also receive immigrant visas?
Yes. Spouse and under-21 children obtain visas at the same time as the nurse. They may also follow to join. These family members do not count against the overall 25,000 RN and 15,000 MD visa quota.
Are these nurses qualified to work in the US?
Absolutely. Before any nurse can enter the US, the nurse must have:
(i) Passed the US nursing licensing exam;
(ii) Graduated from a university that is equivalent to a US nursing school;
(iii) Passed an English fluency examination; and
(iv) A spotless overseas nursing license.
What protections are there for US labor?
Before the visa is issued, the employer must attest that the foreign trained nurse “has not displaced and will not displace a United States worker.’’