New green card proposals will harm international nursing recruitment, AHA warns

Congressional proposals to change green card rules could have a highly negative effect on the ability of healthcare groups to employ foreign nurses at a time of national labor shortages, the American Hospital Association warned in a letter to House of Representatives leaders Dec. 5.

The concern centers around the proposed H.R. 3648, the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment Act of 2022, which was being considered Dec. 5 in the House Rules Committee with a floor vote due soon after. By potentially eliminating the per-country cap for employment-based immigrant visas, wait times for many potential nursing staff entering the U.S. would be severely delayed, the AHA said.

"We believe this legislation would negatively impact nurse immigration, and thereby adversely affect the ability of America's hospitals and health systems to provide care in communities across the country," the letter states. "This includes severely limiting the future ability of foreign-trained nurses to obtain immigrant visas by increasing their wait times to five to seven years or more and eliminating their access for years beyond that, as visa applicants from certain countries would initially receive most or all employment-based green cards for many years."

Most foreign-trained nurses are not qualified to come into the U.S. on a temporary H-1B visa and instead must apply via a green card to gain employment-based immigration as a permanent resident, the AHA said.

"The solution to addressing the backlog in employment-based visas is not to eliminate the per-country cap, but rather to acknowledge there are not enough immigrant visas overall to meet the demand for foreign-born, highly-skilled workers for all sectors in the United States," the letter continues.

Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health is among hospital groups seeking to employ international nursing staff as hospital groups continue to face labor shortages.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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