What is The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act of 2020?
The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, or S.3599, is a bipartisan bill that would respond to the healthcare worker shortage in the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by recapturing 40,000 unused employment-based visas and using them to expedite processing for immigrant doctors and nurses.
The unused visas would be targeted to respond to the current crisis and guaranteed not to displace American workers.
The bill upholds family unity and would provide relief to thousands of essential healthcare workers and their families who are ready to help but left waiting for years in the green card backlog.
The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act would:
Recapture unused visas to bolster our essential healthcare workforce.
The bill would respond to severe nursing and doctor shortages by reserving 25,000 additional visas for physicians and 15,000 additional visas for professional nurses.
The visas would not count towards the annual visa limit and would be recaptured from the pool of over 220,000 EB visas left unused between 1992 and 2020.
A hospital or health care provider would need to petition for each position, so the doctors and nurses would already have work lined up before they receive their visas.
Ensure help comes fast and responds to the problem at hand.
The bill requires the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security to expedite the processing of the recaptured visas so that immigrant nurses and doctors are able to stand with us in the fight against this disease as soon as possible.
Although the healthcare worker shortage is a long-term problem, the legislation recognizes and responds to the urgency of this moment.
The bill would only stay in effect until 90 days after the declaration of a national emergency pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak is ended.
Guarantee the new healthcare workers will not displace current U.S. workers.
The bill would help fill pressing healthcare worker shortages, and therefore, would not impact the employment or wages of current American healthcare workers.
It would require an official attestation from the employers of each new healthcare worker that the hiring has not displaced and will not displace a U.S. worker.
Provide relief to thousands stuck in the green card backlog.
The bill would exempt the visas from per-country caps and each visa would be issued in the order of when the visa petition was filed.
Thousands of healthcare workers who have already had their petitions approved but are stuck waiting in lengthy green card backlogs (such as Indian nurses in the EB-3 category) would be given relief.
These are qualified nurses and doctors, ready to help but left waiting in line.
By freeing these individuals to support our healthcare workforce, the bill would also reduce the green card backlog and allow the immigration system to run a little more smoothly.
Honor family unity.
The bill would allow the spouses and dependent children of healthcare workers to join them in the United States.
These dependents would not count towards the 40,000 visas reserved for the doctors and nurses, but they would be subtracted from the total pool of unused visas available for recapture.
The bill upholds the dignity of the immigrant workers by ensuring status for them and their families.
It goes without saying that immigrant nurses and physicians play a vital role in our health care system, especially in underserved areas where minorities have felt the disproportionate impact of COVID-19.
We applaud these efforts by the Senate and hope that Congress will ensure a bi-partisan solution as soon as possible.