New legislation introduced on March 29, 2021, by Democratic and Republican senators would provide unused employment-based immigrant visas for up to 25,000 foreign nurses and 15,000 foreign physicians and their family members. The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (S. 1024) is intended to beef up the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are highlights:
- The visas would be made available from a pool of recaptured visas that were unused in fiscal years 1992 through 2020, and would not be counted against the total number of immigrant visas reserved for professional nurses and physicians.
- The visas would be exempt from per-country numerical limits and would be issued in order of the priority date assigned at the time the visa petition was filed.
- The petitioner would need to attest that the hiring would not displace a U.S. worker.
- Processing would be expedited.
- The filing period would be limited to 90 days following the termination of President Biden’s COVID-19 pandemic emergency declaration.
The bill is supported by several dozen organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the National Rural Health Association, and others.