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Green Cards for Nurses: An Overview

This article outlines the steps involved taken by both the employer and the qualified registered nurse in obtaining a green card for immigrant status and subsequent employment in United States hospitals and nursing homes.

Registered nurses are among those professionals listed under Schedule A. This means that an employer may file an immigrant visa petition (I-140) directly with the (USCIS) without first going to the US Department of Labor for a labor certification as required by state regulations.

In order for a petition for immigrant visa (I-140) to be initiated, the nurse must have the following qualifications:

  • A full unrestricted permanent license to practice nursing in the state of intended employment.
  • A VisaScreen® certificate issued by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). This certificate is issued only after successful passing of the CGFNS qualifying exam or NCLEX-RN Exam plus an English Proficiency exam administered by either the TOEFL or EILTS.

Application Process if the Nurse is Outside the United States:

The Employer files the Form I-140 and ETA 9089 along with the required supporting documents with the USCIS. Once the USCIS approves the I-140 Petition (usually take 3-6 months), the USCIS first sends the I-140 Petition to the National Visa Center. The NVC then forwards a packet to the nurse or her attorney containing biographical information forms to be completed by the nurse and the nurse's family members, and a list of documents which must be presented at the consular interview for permanent residence. The nurse then sends the signed and completed forms to the U.S. consulate where the nurse will have her interview for permanent residence.

During consular interview, the nurse must present several documents. These include:

a. Application for Immigrant Visa

b. Police Clearance

c. Birth Certificate

d. Marriage Certificate, if any

e. Divorce or Death Certificate of Spouse, if any

f. Valid Passport

g. Medical Examination

h. USCIS Photographs

i. Recent job offer letter (or employment contract)

j. Financial information regarding employer

k. Government filing fee

l. VisaScreen Certificate

Application Process if the Nurse is Already in the United States:

The Alien and Employer file the Form I-140 and ETA 9089 along with the I-485 Adjustment of Status Petition with the USCIS. The Nurse may start work as soon as the I-765 Work Authorization (approx 90 days) is received.

A VisaScreen® certificate will still be required for the approval of the I-485 Adjustment of Status Petition.

The process is usually faster and less complicated if the nurse is already in the United States. However, the same qualifications apply.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice. This is for educational purposes only. Parties are adviced to seek the legal services of qualified immigration lawyers. The author and this blogsite disclaims all liabilities.

Proposed Legislations Seek Mandatory Service Period for Nurses

Two house bills seeking to require all filipino registered nurses to render a minimum of two years mandatory service in Philippine hospitals prior to seeking employment abroad have been filed by two separate lawmakers.

These lawmakers also happen to be medical doctors.

House Bill 2700, filed by Negros Occidental 1st district representative Tranquilino B. Carmona, seeks to implement a "clearance system" for registered nurses where an applicant seeking employment abroad will be required to secure a clearance from the Secretary of Labor and Employment. Such clearance may only be issued after proof of two years continuous or accumulated service rendered in local hospitals has been duly presented. Dr. Carmona justified the mandatory two-year holding period as way to safeguard the Philippine health care system which is said to be on the verge of collapse brought about by the unabated exodus of filipino registered nurses to first-world countries.

House Bill 2926, filed by Iloilo 1st district representative Janette L. Garin, requires registered nurses to serve in local hospitals for a minimum of three (3) years as requirement prior to seeking employment abroad. It also provides for a penalty of imprisonment of at least six (6) years and a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (Php 50,000) for violators. In her explanatory note, Dr. Garin expressed alarm over the increasing number of nurses leaving the country which has tripled in number over the number of new nurses being registered by the Professional Regulation Commission annually.

While the intent of the proposed legislation is laudable, the solution of penalizing nurses for merely attempting to improve their living condition and that of their families is, at the very least, unfair and unconstitutional.

Nursing in the Philippines is generally a thankless job. Nurses are subjected to constant stresses and are exposed to all sorts of diseases on a daily basis. All these endanger both their health and their primary source of income. The remuneration is comparable or near the minimum wage. Working conditions are inhumane especially in government hospitals. Nurses are overworked yet underpaid. To deprive them of an opportunity to improve their lot is utterly unfair.

Article XIII Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution provides for the State to afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.

The legislations proposed by Dr. Tranquilino B. Carmona and Dr. Janette L. Garin negate the very essence of providing full and equal employment opportunities for all as it constraints nurses from seeking employment abroad sans the required mandatory service.

Moreover, the Bill of Rights guarantees every person's right to life, liberty, and property as well as equal protection of the laws. The practice of a profession falls under the meaning of property. The clause on the equal protection of the laws provide that no law shall be enacted that will benefit or affect a single class or group only. Restricting nurses to seek employment abroad while allowing other professionals like engineers, computer programmers, and sea men to freely seek employment overseas is class legislation and therefore, unconstitutional.

In closing, it is blatantly ironic and hypocritical of these two doctor-legislators to be picking on nurses who leave the Philippine health care system to work abroad when they themselves contributed to the health care decay when they left the medical profession and began their political careers as members of the House of Representatives.

Related Article:

Nursing Shortage in the Philippines: The Real Score

Is Florence Nightingale Obsolete?

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth as she is considered the founder of modern nursing.

In some parts of the world however, Florence Nightingale is no longer considered as a role model for modern nurses.

In 1999, a public sector union in the United Kingdom (UK), UNISON, voted unanimously to ask the International Council of Nurses to move the commemoration of International Nurses' Day from Florence Nightingale's birthday to another date.

They contend that Florence Nightingale, known for her work during the Crimean War, was caucasian, came from a middle class family, and Protestant. They also claim that she set up her hospital with family money and was said to have a hierarchical approach to nursing making her legacy inconsistent with the trans-cultural nature of modern nursing.

Ms. Wendy Wheeler, a delegate at the UNISON's annual health conference in Brighton, claims that Florence Nightingale believed nurses should be subordinate to doctors, was against registration of nurses, opposed the three-year formal training of nurses, did not see mental health as a field for nurses and had "questionable success" at her hospital in the Crimea.

UNISON proposed to transfer International Nurses' Day from May 12 to May 21 which falls on the birthday of Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845). Elizabeth Fry founded the Institution of Nursing Sisters years before Nightingale setup her own nursing team and is also known for her work with female prisoners.

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