As State Department Freezes Visas for Healthcare Professionals, Healthcare Workforce Coalition Urges Congress to Pass Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act – PR.com

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Washington, DC, June 14, 2024 –(PR.com)– The Healthcare Workforce Coalition today urged Congress to swiftly pass the bipartisan Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (H.R. 6205/S. 3211) in light of the recent announcement by the U.S. Department of State that no more immigrant visas would be granted to international healthcare professionals for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The EB-3 visa category, which includes skilled workers such as nurses, is an important pathway for international healthcare professionals to permanently join the U.S. workforce. In its July Visa Bulletin, however, the U.S. Department of State announced a retrogression in “Final Action Dates” for several high-demand countries, such as the Philippines. This retrogression creates significant backlogs, meaning longer waiting periods for nurses to obtain their visas and start working in the U.S., directly impacting the healthcare sector’s ability to meet the demand for patient care.

“Foreign-trained nurses and doctors play critical roles in providing support for our hospitals and health systems,” said Megan Cundari, Senior Director, Federal Relations, American Hospital Association. “While we must invest in developing our domestic health care workforce, the HWRA would help ease current shortages so we can continue to serve our patients and communities.”

The United States is currently experiencing a severe healthcare workforce shortage with over 102 million Americans living in a designated primary care Health Professional Shortage Area. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 275,000 additional nurses are needed by 2030 and the Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage between 37,800 and 124,000 primary and specialty care physicians by 2034. Yet, nursing and medical schools are currently not graduating enough students to fill the gaps in the workforce. That’s why foreign-born healthcare professionals play such an integral role in protecting and expanding our nation’s workforce and patient access to care.

The retrogression outlined in the July 2024 Visa Bulletin is a stark reminder of the urgent need for legislative action. To solve this dire issue, the Healthcare Workforce Coalition strongly urges Congress to pass the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (H.R. 6205/S. 3211). If passed, this bipartisan legislation would recapture 25,000 unused immigrant visas for nurses and 15,000 unused immigrant visas for physicians that Congress has previously authorized, as well as recaptured visas for immediate family members. It would also require employers to attest that international workers from overseas who receive these visas will not displace any American workers, and require eligible international medical professionals to meet licensing requirements, pay filing fees, and clear rigorous national security and criminal background checks before they can receive recaptured green cards.

To learn more about the Healthcare Workforce Coalition, visit healthcareworkforce.org.