In Focus
October 24, 2007


At long last, some headway is being made.  Last night a nurse immigration relief amendment was unanimously included in a voice vote to the Labor HHS Appropriations Bill.  The Senate added the bridge proposal as an Amendment to HR 3043, the HHS-Labor budget bill.  Amendment  3404 (Senator Charles Schumer's Amendment ) was passed as amended by Amendment 3449 that was introduced by Dick Durbin/IL-Dem.   Although we do not yet have the final text of 3449, here are the key components:

  • 61,000 immigrant visas for Schedule A occupations (nurses and physical therapists) and their immediate family members.  These numbers are provided from unused green-cards from previous years;
  • Employers will be required to pay a $1500 additional Training Fee for each nurse immigrant as a condition of approval of the adjustment application by USCIS or issuance of the visa by the State Department.  Certain healthcare facilities can have this fee waived who are in disaster areas or HHS-designated health professional shortage areas;
  • There is a provision that calls for nurses, physicians and other health care workers to attest that they do not owe their native country any financial obligations.  This provision will take effect 180 days after passage of the Bill.
  • A grant program will be created to allow US nursing schools to increase the number of nursing faculty and students;
  • Permanent resident (green-card) health care workers (including doctors and nurses) will receive a credit toward naturalization and not be deemed to have abandoned permanent residency during time spent working in particular countries (a list to be published by the State Department within 6 months) and (DHS must publish rules within 6 months of enactment of the legislation and update them yearly); and
  •  The Senate also passed an increase to the H-1 Training Fee which was offered by Senator Grassley. New Training fee will be a whopping $3,500!

There are still many hurdles ahead such as surviving the House-Senate conference committee (that is scheduled to begin today and Thursday).  Senators have been informally conferencing for about a month now.  Then it has to pass a presidential veto.  Sources state that some Congressmen will take issue with the $3500 Grassley H-1 tax (which is absolutely unheard of!)  Given this occurs, Grassley may fight to take out all the immigration amendments.  Right now, the good news -- passage on the Senate floor was viewed as the biggest obstacle.

Immigration Solutions will keep you informed of all critical stages of this developing legislation.

Leslie Davis

CEO - Case Manager

Immigration Solutions

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