Monday, March 12, 2007

Proposed bill seeks work permits for nurses

A new bill to provide working visas in the US for foreign-born nurses has been recently filed with the US House of Representatives.

This new bill, known as the Nursing Relief Act of 2007, seeks to amend the US Immigration and Nationality Act and create a new nonimmigrant visa category for registered nurses.

Under this bill, which was filed by Arizona Representative John Shedegg last March 6, seeks to create a Nonimmigrant Category for Nurses. Under this new category, nurses can apply for nonimmigrant status, through a lawful US employer, and be able to work in the US for an initial period of 3 years and which can be extended to a maximum of 6 years.

Nurses who avail of this proposed visa category would have the option for permanent residency or adjustment of status filed on their behalf while they are on a nonimmigrant visa. However, this petition must be filed a year or 365 days before their nonimmigrant status expires.

The bill also stipulates that aliens already in the US can have the nonimmigrant status filed on their behalf by an employer, and thus extend their stay in the country. Also, those who go through this process may switch employers (provided they have no contractual obligation), just as long as their new employers file for the same nonimmigrant petition for them.

Spouses, who accompany the nurses under nonimmigrant status, would also be given work permits, based on the proposed legislation.

The HR 1358 seeks to allocate up to 50,000 slots for alien nurses, but this may be increased to 120% of the allocation if the slots were all used up for a given fiscal year. If the allocated number was not consumed within the specified period, then the allocations would remain at the 50,000 level for the succeeding year.

Unlike other visa allocations, the 50,000 would only be given to the principal alien and not to their spouses or children. So, regardless of the number of family members a nurse would be bringing along with him, only one allocated number would be consumed for his application. Out of recaptured 90,000 or 50,000 Schedule A visas last year, only 15,000 was reportedly given to actual nurses. The rest of the allocation was consumed by their accompanying family members.

Follow this link to read a copy of the HR 1358:

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