immigration applicaton

LeadingAge and the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living met Monday with staff from the Department of Labor to “strongly urge” the agency to consider changes to Schedule A petitions, which association representatives say could improve the process of allowing registered nurses to permanently enter the country.

An advantage of being on a Schedule A petition, according to LeadingAge, is that foreign workers can obtain green cards without first having to go through the entire labor certification process.

The meeting was a followup to an April 1 letter to the Labor Department from a coalition of advocates requesting that the agency improve its “process/timeliness of issuing prevailing wage determinations for Schedule A petitions, which is limited to physical therapists and registered nurses.” The request was denied May 3.

The Labor Department Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification “processes all applications as expeditiously as possible; however, as a matter of long-standing policy, OFLC does not engage in any preferential expedited processing of particular applications based on the individual circumstances of an employer or foreign worker beneficiary,” wrote Brian Pasternak, administrator of the office.

Representatives from the agency agreed, however, that a regulatory process could be put in place, but they did not commit to making any changes, according to LeadingAge.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, a trio of immigration bills aim to reduce hiring barriers. The proposals were introduced last week by Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and are designed to bring more workers into the healthcare industry amid a severe workforce shortage.

The first measure, dubbed the Immigrants in Nursing and Allied Health Act, would create a grant program to help cover the costs of licensing, certification, training and education provided to immigrants looking to work in healthcare.

The second proposal, the International Medical Graduate Assistance Act, would incentivize states to create temporary licensing programs for internationally educated immigrants who have medical degrees. The programs would allow them to practice under supervision while they complete the certification and training requirements necessary to obtain a U.S. medical license.

The final piece of legislation, the Professional’s Access to Health Workforce Integration Act, would provide training and counseling opportunities to internationally trained health professionals who are U.S. citizens and immigrants legally residing in the country. It also would educate employers on the abilities and capacities of health professionals who have been educated overseas.
All of the proposals have been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The measures also were detailed by LeadingAge in a blog post on Friday.