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Bill Lifting Visa Retrogression Filed


Today is labor day in the Philippines and filipino nurses, the best labor export of this nation of 90 million, have something to smile about despite the bleak employment outlook locally.

The Coalition to Improve Healthcare Staffing (CTIHS) made major breakthroughs this week in working to have the employment-based visa backlog (retrogression) lifted as two U.S. congressmen recently introduced HR 5924. Sponsored by Florida Rep. Robert Wexler and Wisconsin Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., the bill seeks to achieve the following according to CTIHS prime-mover, Hammond Law Group (HLG):

1. Lifting of retrogression for Schedule A workers. Any immigrant visa quotas or caps are waived for all visa applications filed for Shortage Occupations (Schedule A occupations: Physical Therapists and Registered Nurses), provided that the I-140 is filed prior to September 30, 2011.

2. 20,000 primary beneficiary quota. While there is no retrogression for Schedule A cases filed before September 30, 2011, Consulates may not approve more than 20,000 primary beneficiary visas in any one year. There is no quota for the immediate family members of such beneficiaries.

3. Expedited Review. The USCIS must review -- and approve or issue an RFE -- on all Schedule A I-140 cases within 30 days of receipt.

4. Grant Fee. All primary beneficiary nursing visas issued under this legislation must pay a fee of $1500. Katrina-effected and HPSA employers do not have to pay the fee.

5. Grant Program. These fees will fund a Grant program. Schools of nursing may draw on this fund based on their student populations. The fees are to be used to attract, train, and retain nursing faculty, purchase educational equipment, expand infrastructure, and attract students.

6. Liberalized US Citizenship for some Health Care workers. Time spent by US Permanent Resident Health acre workers in a developing country will not be held against them in their endeavors to become US citizens.

7. Obligation Attestation. Immigrant visa applicants must attest that they do not owe their country of residence or origin a financial obligation. An obligation is defined as financial assistance that the intending immigrant incurred to defray the costs of education in consideration for a commitment to continue to work in that county.

HLG points out that this bill has a very strong chance of passing this year considering Rep. Sensenbrenner's high-profile support. The Wisconsin 5th District congressman is said to be a hardliner when it comes to immigration issues.

Related Link:
Full Text of HR 5924:
Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act

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