Several U.S. legislators have passed a bill in Congress that grants thousands of overseas nurses and doctors unused green cards or permanent legal residency status to meet the urgent needs of the congested healthcare sector in the United States.
The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act would enable re-enactment of green cards that have been approved by Congress but have not been used in recent years, and would allow thousands of additional health professionals to work permanently in the United States.
Legislation would send 25,000 nurses and 15,000 doctors green cards during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that places like Iowa have the professionals they need to care for patients for years, a media release says.
The move is likely to benefit a large number of Indian nurses and doctors who have either an H-1B or a J2 visa.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigration visa that US companies can use to employ foreign workers in special jobs that require theoretical or technical expertise. Companies rely on hiring tens of thousands of employees from countries like India and China every year.
A green card, officially known as a permanent resident card, is a document issued to immigrants to the United States to demonstrate that the holder has been granted the privilege of permanent residence.
In the House of Representatives it was introduced by legislators Abby Finkenauer, Brad Schneider, Tom Cole and Don Bacon. The Senate's bipartisan bill is led by Senators David Perdue, Dick Durbin, Todd Young and Chris Coons.
"We need all hands on deck to tackle this generation crisis," said Congresswoman Finkenauer.
"We know that this virus will not magically go away, and experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci are warning of a second wave this fall. Rural areas that make up a large part of my district are still particularly vulnerable and already exist a shortage of health professionals, "she said.
The law is enforced by organizations such as the American Medical Association, the Healthcare Leadership Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment, the American Hospital Association, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and America's Essential Hospitals and the doctors for access to American health care.
"Doctors fighting COVID-19 are excited to hear these words: Reinforcements are on the way. Reclaiming 15,000 unused immigration visas for doctors through the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act would reduce the burden on frontline doctors who put their lives on the line risk in understaffed hospitals. " said Patrice A Harris, president of the American Medical Association.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) said that care by overseas doctors and nurses overseas was never more urgent than during the current COVID-19 pandemic. These professionals play a vital role in ensuring the health of our communities.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)