Nursing Shortage Relief

Nursing Relief Act of 2009. US Immigration
7 May 2008 -- A bill intended to lift the retrogression of visa numbers for Registered Nurses (RNs) and Physical Therapists (PTs) was introduced on April 29 in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Robert Wexler, Democrat from Florida, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Republican from Wisconsin, sponsored the bill (HR 5924) which is also known as the Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act.

The measure which is long overdue would alleviate the current shortage of RNs and PTs.

Under the proposed law, 20,000 visa numbers will be given to PTs and RNs every year through September 30, 2011. Immediate family members will be allowed to immigrate without being subject to the quota limitation.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be required to review and act on the immigrant visa petition (I-140) within 30 days from filing. The I-140 petition is the first step in the green card process.

After the approval of the I-140 petition, the file will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC) which would then request the submission of the biographic data of the alien and other documents. The last step is the immigration interview to be conducted at a U.S. embassy.

If the alien is in the U.S., he/she may file an adjustment of status application.

A fee of $1,500.00 for each nurse who uses the visa shall be charged to the employer except when the employer was affected by the Katrina disaster or is located in a Health Professional Shortage Area.

Another provision of the bill will allow physicians or other health care workers and their dependents to reside in a candidate country and still be considered as physically present and residing in the U.S. for the purpose of establishing their residency requirements for naturalization.

Immigrant advocates are hopeful that the bill will be passed because of its bipartisan support. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, they note, has been known to be lukewarm to, if not against comprehensive immigration reform but he agreed to push for the passage of the bill.

There have been several bills introduced in the past two years to increase the visa numbers for nurses but they all failed to pass.

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 which sought to exempt RNs from visa quota through September 30, 2017 was passed in the Senate in 2006 but failed to become a law.

The Rural Nursing Promotion Act (S. 640) which exempts RNs from the quota through September 30, 2017, which was introduced by Senator Norm Coleman on February 15, 2007, is still in the Judiciary Committee.

Senator Hutchison of Texas and Senator Schumer of New York proposed in March 2007 and in August 2007 the recapture of unused visa numbers but they did not get enough support. In October 2007 when they reintroduced the proposal, the Senate passed it but failed to get the approval of the House.

has been practicing law for over 30 years and is included in the Marquis Who’s Who in American Law. A former law editor, he previously taught law and international politics and is the author of “We Didn’t Pass Through the Golden Door.” He frequently writes and speaks on immigration and other legal topics. He has received numerous awards in the U.S. and abroad, including several outstanding professional awards and Philippine Presidential awards. For more information, you may log on to his website at or call (212) 695-5281
Category: Immigration Posted on  07  May 2008

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