The United States Senate recently passed a highly-debated immigration bill. The legislation covers a broad spectrum of immigration issues such as legalization of illegal immigrants and a guest worker program.
As republicans and democrats debated over immigration issues, a provision on foreign nurse immigration has been overlooked.
The overlooked provision removes the limit on the number of nurses who can immigrate to the United States which will remain in effect until 2014.
The provision is a welcome news to foreign nurses.
In the past, work-based immigration visas were limited due to the retrogression announced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
In May 2005, US President George W. Bush signed into law the supplementary spending bill for tsunami aid and Iraq which included a rider that recaptures 50,000 unused immigrant visa numbers from 2001 to 2004 and allocating the same for foreign Registered Nurses and Physical Therapists to address the retrogression. However, New York Times reports that State Department officials predict that the allocated immigrant visas are likely to be used up by 2006.
Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who sponsored the proposal, justified the proposal as a means to address the growing shortage of nurses in US hospitals and nursing homes.
The proposal is fully supported by the American Hospital Association, which reported in April that American hospitals had 118,000 vacancies for registered nurses. The federal government projected in 2002 that the shortage of nurses in the United States would swell to more than 800,000 by the year 2020.
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