A Miami Herald article by Douglas Hanks confirms the fact that the U.S. government’s efforts to stimulate and utilize healthcare workers in the US (read as citizens and permanent residents) is working. And because the strategy to harness domestic healthcare force is working, foreign nurses – including Filipino Nightingales – find few sponsors willing to file immigrant visa petitions, not just because of the 5-7 year wait , but also of the costs involved.
With unemployment still hovering at a 9.1% rate, US non-healthcare workers and healthcare workers who were not practicing their professions (but got hit by the recession) are picking up the slack and, compared to other Americans in other occupations, are gainfully employed as registered nurses and related jobs.
Prior to this development, US legislators have not been successful in coming up with bills – and much less laws – that would at least reallocate unused employment-based immigrant visas in previous years, or at least revive the H-1A visas enacted in 1989 in response to the national shortage of nurses.
The H-1A visa program for nurses expired on September 30, 1997. Recognizing the continuing shortage of RNs at the time, then President Clinton signed H.R. 441, the "Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act" (Public Law 106-095, the "NRDAA") into law . HR 441 repealed the H-1A visa for nurses and created a new nonimmigrant visa category for nurses (H-1C) who may be sponsored to work in areas designated as “Health Professional Shortage Areas by the Department of Health and Human Services. The H-1C visa’s yearly quota was only 500 worldwide. Sponsors were limited to hospitals and other authorized entities.
Mr. Hanks, while on the way to come up with a story on construction employment “calculate the jobs lost and gained during the last four years in Miami-Dade County. He found out that “almost all industries employ fewer people than they did in August 2007. The big exception: health care.