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San Diego Immigration Lawyer about Improving the Processing of “Schedule A” Nurse Visas

The nursing shortage in the United States is becoming increasingly problematic and may adversely affect the health care industry. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 2007 study, the United States will require 1.2 million new Registered Nurses (RNs) by 2014 to meet the nursing demand: approximately 500,000 RNs to replace nurses leaving the field, and “an additional 700,000 to meet growing demand for nursing services.”
In meetings with nursing organizations and stakeholders, the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman heard concerns about the time it takes for a foreign nurse to be admitted to the United States to work. We link t a recent USCIS memo that addresses some of the current problems with Nurse Immigration and possible solutions for the new future.

The linked report, while specifically providing recommendations for improving the processing of Schedule A nurse cases, should also be required reading for all persons active in the field of recruiting foreign nurses to the United States.

The report provides an excellent history of the issues and discusses the effect of the nurse shortage in the United States. It explains the limited nonimmigrant visa options available to nurses (TN, H-1B and H-1C). Specifically, the report provides statistics of how few H-1B nurse cases have been approved recently (38 cases in 2006, 66 cases in 2007 and only 136 in 2008). In addition, the report discusses the immigrant visa process for nurses through Schedule A and the two main problems with that process, i.e., the delays at USCIS in processing the I-140 visa petition and the immigrant visa quota delays. Please note that the report references the fact that one of the Service Centers charged with adjudicating Schedule A casework is some 4 months behind what the Processing Report presently indicates.

The Ombudsman concludes the report with the following recommendations:
* That USCIS separate and prioritize Schedule A green card nurse applications so that they can be expedited upon immigrant visa availability.

* That USCIS centralize Schedule A nurse applications at one designated USCIS service center to facilitate more efficient and consistent processing of Schedule A applications.

* That USCIS regularly communicate with DOL and develop points of contact at DOL to discuss concerns and direct inquiries regarding the processing of nurse applications.

In conclusion, while the report makes recommendations to improve the processing of the I-140 Schedule A petitions at the USCIS, legislative action is still needed to increase the number of immigrant visas available each year for nurses.

Read the Memo here Download file