The “Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act,” HR 1044 / S 386, introduced as proposed legislation in Congress on February 7, would eliminate the 7% per-country cap on immigrant visas. The result would dramatically harm patient care in the United States. A consequence of the bill is that international nurses would have to wait for 7.5 years in order to be granted a visa. Consequently, the lack of available international nurses would prevent U.S. hospitals from meeting their demand for nurse staffing. You can read more about this proposed legislation here or in our previous post describing the issue and our recommendation to fix HR 1044.

Although this bill is new, the idea of lifting country caps is not. Various congressional members have introduced similar language under various names since 2011. It has never passed, and in its current form it is unlikely to pass. Its re-emergence nonetheless creates substantial risk because of numerous co-sponsors and a strong lobbying push.

How We’re Working for International RNs and the American Patient by Fighting HR 1044

AAIHR members are demonstrating their commitment to stopping this legislation in its current form. We have actively engaged with various crucial stakeholders to develop a fix. The most important stakeholder we’ve worked with is the U.S. Congress, including meeting in person with the staff of many members. We’ve also educated U.S. hospitals and enlisted the support of other advocacy groups who have the interests of the American patient at heart. U.S. hospitals understand the problem of this bill and have partnered closely with us in working towards a fix. They are informing their respective Congressional members about the impact, and have gained the support of the American Hospital Association (AHA). This very prominent association who has voiced its opposition to HR 1044.

In February 2019, representatives from several AAIHR member organizations convened in Washington, DC to meet as a group with Congressional representatives. Among the member organizations present at the meeting were ADEX Medical Staffing, Avant Healthcare, Grandison Management, Guardian Healthcare Providers, Health Carousel, MedPro Staffing, Shearwater Health, and Vintage Health Resources. Some of these same members will be back on Capitol Hill in April 2019 for additional meetings.

AAIHR Members Meet in DC to fight HR 1044

The risk to American patients due to inadequate staffing is very serious. All AAIHR members are devoted to improving nurse staffing in the United States through the use of international Registered Nurses. The idea of offering tremendous opportunity to Registered Nurses and their families from around the world to come to the United States also inspires us. Most of these immigrant families benefit from improved economic and educational opportunities.

A Risk Worth Taking

Our commitment is deep and our outlook about the future of international Registered Nurses remains positive. Most AAIHR members continue to recruit international RNs and sponsor their visas, a significant financial investment but very much worth the effort. We continue to do so because international Registered Nurses are vital to the United States healthcare system. We have high confidence that this commonsense reality will triumph over poorly designed legislation that would create a 7.5 year retrogression for international RNs.

AAIHR and its members believe that EB3 visas will remain available to international Registered Nurses throughout 2019 and in the foreseeable future. That said, we take seriously the risks posed by the “Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act,” and we will help our members proactively work together to address this issue in the interest of American patients and international nurses.