The AHA and its American Organization for Nursing Leadership today voiced strong support for the Backlog Elimination, Legal Immigration, and Employment Visa Enhancement Act (S. 2091). The legislation would almost double the number of employment-based visas to 270,000 and ensure that critical health care workers needed in the United States would have access to employment-based visas by carving out health care workers in designated shortage occupations from the limit.

“Currently, there is greater demand for new nurses than there are students graduating from nursing programs in the United States,” the organizations said in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the bill’s sponsor. “That is why America’s hospitals and health systems partially rely on immigrant nurses from a number of countries as a small, but absolutely necessary, part of the health care labor market. These nurses are required to meet rigid standards of equivalent education, English fluency and state licensure, and must have clean disciplinary records. Foreign-trained nurses do not displace American workers; in fact, the demand for nurses continues to grow. Foreign-trained nurses make up less than 10% of the 160,000 new nurses licensed each year. They are recruited primarily to rural and inner-city hospitals, locations that find it more difficult than others to recruit nurses domestically. Foreign-trained nurses serve a critical role in providing care to patients in these underserved communities.”

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