Monday, May 4, 2020

HEALTHCARE WORKFORCE RESILIENCE ACT FAQ


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.’’


18 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. How will this indirectly affect the other HCW like PTs? Will they have advantage too?

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    1. Unfortunately this bill is only for RNs and PTs. Still because it would clear the retrogression it would indirectly help PTs too.

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  3. Good day Atty! if this HWRA are only for nurses and doctors, do you think there would be a good chance for PTs with approved visa petition and already doc qualified to at least have a faster movement in the visa interview queue since nurses have their own visa allocation and will no longer compete with the eb3 visa allocation per country. Im a PT in PH with pd of Nov 2019; already doc qualified. Your opinion in this inquiry is highly appreciated. Thank you.

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    1. Yes- I think that a collateral benefit of this legislation is that other EB2 and EB3, suhc as PT, MT, and OT will have less "competition" for visa slots.

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  4. Hello Chris!

    Does this mean that the HWRA that has just been introduced to the senate have been approved? In your expert opinion, how quickly will this bill come into law? Thank you!

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    1. It is being introduced this week. If this bill is to become law, it will have to happen in the next two months or so.

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  5. Hi, will this benefit Indian doctor working on medicine drug safety or medical scientist ?

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    1. If you are an MD you will qualify for a visa.

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  6. Hi, will this benefit Indian doctor working on medicine drug safety or medical scientist ?

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    1. No - you need to be working as a US MD.

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  7. If a doctor or nurse with an approved I-140, changes employer now. Will this act still apply to him/her? Does he/she need to have another I-140 from the new employer to be eligible for the visa ?

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    1. Generally speaking your I-140 needs to be for your current employer in all green card cases including any that might qualify under this proposed bill.

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  9. I have a question how shall it help PTs who are stuck in Green card Backlog and are they considered in the bill like nurses. Both nurses and PTs are in Schedule A occupation of HCW. I am in the Green Card backlog and wouls like to know if it shall help me.

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    1. This bill is limited to RNs and MDs. Unfortunately PTs are not part of this bill. It should help indirectly, as the RNs and MDs would no longer be part of the retrogression queue.

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