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Good News: A few days ago, the US senate announced that they have reached a 'deal' on the polarized issue of Immigration Reform.

Bad News: The supposed deal eliminates the 'Schedule A Category'

Passage of a long-overdue immigration reform law by the US legislature would mean resolution of the retrogression affecting thousands of filipino nurses awaiting deployment to the United States. At present, visa issuance is on hold due to a backlog in visa numbers. This is called retrogression.

Nurses and Physical therapists are listed as 'shortage occupations' by the US Department of Labor in a category called, Schedule A. As such, 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.

The compromise reached last week by the US senate, however, removes this category and replaces it with a new "merit-based" point system.
Also, the proposed increase in the H-1 visa quota does not sufficiently meet real world demands. The bill allocates an additional 115,000 H-1 visas to the current cap with 20% annual buffers not exceeding 180,000. However, it can be recalled that 65,000 visa allocations were used up within just a day after the USCIS started accepting applications in April this year.
Click HERE to read the draft of the proposed CIR bill.
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Advocacy Link:

Online Petition for 'Sentosa 27'

An online petition has been launched in an effort to rally support for the 26 filipino nurses and 1 physical therapist facing criminal charges in New York for child endangerment after the group resigned en masse due to inhumane working conditions, labor law violations, and breach of contract by employer Sentosa Care, LLC.

The 'Sentosa 27' last year filed a case against Sentosa Care, LLC which resulted to a suspension of Sentosa's recruitment activities in the Philippines. However, the suspension was immediately lifted when former presidential chief of staff, senatorial candidate Mike Defensor allegedly interfered in Sentosa's behalf.
The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), a national alliance of Filipino organizations in the U.S. with international networks, is spearheading the 'Justice for the Sentosa 27' campaign along with said health workers.


The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has also stepped in. Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos Jr. said his office will provide legal assistance to the 'Sentosa 27.'

Click HERE to sign the Online Petition.
Related news:
Sentosa-hired nurses decry abuses (Philippine News)

NCSBN Suspends NCLEX Administration in Korea

The US National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) suspended the administration of NCLEX in Korea after it discovered that previous exam questions were leaked and used in lectures conducted in a korean private school for nurses.

The suspension took effect April 16, 2007 after warnings from the American Nurses Association (ANA).

According to a
report by korean news website ChoSun Ilbo, three (3) korean nurses leaked exam questions in the website of a private school in Korea after taking the test in March.

The test results of the three koreans were also nullified.

Korea's capital, Seoul, became an international testing center for NCLEX in January 2005.

The NCSBN, in February, chose the Philippines as the newest international testing center for the US nursing licensure exam after the asian nation satisfied all security policies and procedures required in the conduct of the exam.

Immigration Talks Underway Amidst US-Wide Rallies

United States Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid has allocated the last two (2) weeks of the US Senate's May calendar solely for Immigration Debates in the wake of rallies on Tuesday (Wednesday in the Philippines) across the United States.

Although the turn-out was lower compared to a similar rally held the previous year, rallyists are confident they sent a clear message to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have been struggling, with little success, to come up with a compromise on the contentious issue of Immgration Reform

An Associated Press (AP)
report quoted one of the marchers, Shaun Harkin, "There's no reason a pro-immigration bill can't be passed. That's one of the messages being sent today," Originally from Northern Ireland, he has lived in the United States as a legal resident for 15 years.

US President George W. Bush has been known to be pushing for Immigration Reform. He reiterated his desire to overhaul Amerca's broken immigration system in a speech to graduates of a Miami College on April 29. "Here at Miami Dade, you know firsthand the contributions that immigrants make to our country," Bush said.

In a speech addressed to the clergy in Washington on May 3, Bush said, "I'm looking forward to working with both Democrats and Republicans to get a comprehensive immigration bill done this year."

He added, "We have a good chance to get it done. After all, America is a land of immigrants. Immigration helps renew our soul. It helps redefine our spirit in a positive way. "
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