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Congress Receives Report on Nurse Shortage

congressDecember 10, 2008 - In a very promising development, on December 5, 2008 the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman published it recommendations as to how to improve the processing of Schedule A nurse cases and delivered the 11-page Report to Congress on Monday, December 8, 2008. 
The recommendations are based on a recent nationwide teleconference conducted by the Ombudsman at which Immigration Solutions was present. Immigration Solutions has obtained an advance copy of the report which can be accessed here.

Those of you who have read the monthly newsletters and periodic newsflashes published by Immigration Solutions and who have participated in teleconferences presented by Immigration Solutions, will readily recognize that the report repeats and reinforces everything that Immigration Solutions has discussed and presented over the past few years.
The attached report, while specifically providing recommendations for improving the processing of Schedule A nurse cases, should also be required reading for all persons active in the field of recruiting foreign nurses to the United States. 
The report provides an excellent history of the issues and discusses the effect of the nurse shortage in the United States.  It explains the limited nonimmigrant visa options available to nurses (TN, H-1B and H-1C).  Specifically, the report provides statistics of how few H-1B nurse cases have been approved recently (38 cases in 2006, 66 cases in 2007 and only 136 in 2008).  In addition, the report discusses the immigrant visa process for nurses through Schedule A and the two main problems with that process, i.e., the delays at USCIS in processing the I-140 visa petition and the immigrant visa quota delays.  We note that the report references the fact that one of the Service Centers charged with adjudicating Schedule A casework is some 4 months behind what the Processing Report presently indicates.
The Ombudsman concludes the report with the following recommendations:
  • That USCIS separate and prioritize Schedule A green card nurse applications so that they can be expedited upon immigrant visa availability.

  • That USCIS centralize Schedule A nurse applications at one designated USCIS service center to facilitate more efficient and consistent processing of Schedule A applications.

  • That USCIS regularly communicate with DOL and develop points of contact at DOL to discuss concerns and direct inquiries regarding the processing of nurse applications.
In conclusion, while the report makes recommendations to improve the processing of the I-140 Schedule A petitions at the USCIS, legislative action is still needed to increase the number of immigrant visas available each year for nurses. Indications so far from incoming President Obama and the incoming Congress are good that this issue will be dealt with early in 2009.  The Ombudsman's Report and the reasonably good chances of increased immigrant visa quotas for nurses reinforce our opinion that hospitals, staffing agencies and other healthcare providers should be filing I-140 Schedule A visa petitions now to establish their position on the immigrant visa quota waiting list in order to be ahead of the competition when more immigrant visas become available and the processing procedures improve and become faster.      
Please feel free to contact us with any questions that you might have pertaining to this information.  As always, we are available to assist you with your immigration needs for all healthcare occupations.  This is our area of specialty.  Our highly trained staff stands ready to work with you on designing an immigration program that suits your specific needs and requirements for 2009.

For more information:
Read the original congressional memo
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