Dear CHRISTUS Advocates:
Please help us send a message to your Members of Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration to urge them to help address the critical nurse shortage by increasing the timely issuance of immigrant visas for foreign-trained nurses eligible to relocate to the United States. Eligible foreign-trained nurses are not currently receiving their immigrant visas because unprecedented processing delays at U.S. embassies and consulates have resulted in a failure to issue immigrant visas. These delays are exacerbating the ongoing nurse shortages across the CHRISTUS Health ministry as well as across the country. It is critical that Congress considers legislation to address these shortages, and more immediately, that the State Department places registered nurses seeking immigrant visas in the First Tier of the State Department’s current processing priority.
Eligible foreign-trained nurses waiting for visas could immediately enter the United States and begin caring for patients if their visas, for which they have already qualified, were issued. Previously, the State Department designated internationally educated nurses as First Tier for visa priority, however, these nurses were recently downgraded to Tier Four. Reinstating the previous priority designation would help safeguard access to care across the CHRISTUS Health ministry by helping to ensure appropriate nurse staffing levels. The issuance of these visas is the only remaining hurdle for these desperately needed health care professionals during this time of critical nurse staffing shortages. Each eligible foreign-trained nurse awaiting a visa:
· has been approved for immigrant visas by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service;
· passed the United States nursing licensing exam;
· graduated from a university that is equivalent to a United States nursing school;
· passed an English fluency examination; and
· has a spotless overseas nursing license.
Furthermore, Congressional action is needed in the form of support for the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (S. 1024/H.R. 2255), bipartisan legislation in both the House and Senate, that would expedite the visa authorization process for highly-trained nurses, who could support hospitals facing staffing shortages and ensure hospitals are better positioned to provide patient care. Ensuring an adequate supply of physicians and nurses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is paramount. The U.S. continues to see significant increases in the number of COVID-19 patients in many communities. In those communities, the health care system remains stressed, and in some areas, hospitals are again nearing their full capacity. This bipartisan legislation would address unprecedented health care worker shortages across the country, a foundational issue for our nation. The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (S. 1024/H.R. 2255) would accelerate the visa authorization process to help address the critical health care workforce shortages.
Please send a letter to your Members of Congress to ask for support for the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act and to urge the Biden Administration to reprioritize immigrant visas for eligible, foreign-trained nurses.
Thank you for all of your efforts on behalf of CHRISTUS Health to ensure access to care for those who need it most.