AAIHR commends bipartisan bill to recapture unused visas to fight COVID-19

AAIHR commends bipartisan bill to recapture unused visas to fight COVID-19

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James Richardson, 202-408,9160
James.Richardson@Dentons.com

A bipartisan quartet of US senators said Thursday they would introduce an emergency healthcare stopgap proposal to recapture previously unused visas for qualified international nurses and doctors to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

The bill, which will be formally introduced when the Senate reconvenes, is being led by Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Todd Young (R-IN), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

“Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the United States was projected to suffer a shortfall of 200,000 nurses. Now, with healthcare workers representing as much as 20 percent of all new infections across the country, clinician staffing has become a public health crisis of its own,” Shari Costantini, the president of the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment, said. “This is a thoughtful, targeted solution that puts America on a war footing with the coronavirus by ensuring our hospitals have the front line clinicians we need to treat historic levels of critical care patients at hospitals all across the country.”

Today there are thousands of qualified overseas nurses who have passed background checks and US licensure and English language proficiency tests but cannot get their visas processed by the State Department because of a green card freeze.

The Healthcare Workforce Resiliency Act would allow for the entry of 25,000 international nurses and 15,000 doctors, drawn from a massive pool of previously authorized but unused visas. All clinicians would be required to pass licensure and English language exams, have a spotless overseas record, and have graduated from an equivalent international medical program.

The state of America’s nursing crisis is so severe—even before the coronavirus pandemic, some 200,000 nursing positions were projected to go unfilled this year—that the US Department of Labor has said that the immigration of international healthcare workers would have no effect on the wages and working conditions of domestic labor.

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