The Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act proposes to designate 8,000 visas for healthcare workers in shortage professions.
To help ease staffing issues, hospitals and health systems are seeking international nurses to fill vacant positions, but current visa regulations can make it difficult to ensure supply keeps pace with demand.
"My company has 1,000 open orders, and I would say that other companies within the AAIHR [American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment] are clearly in the hundreds, if not higher, of open job orders for international nurses," says Shari Dingle Costantini, MBA, RN, AAIHR.
She is chair of regulatory affairs and CEO of Avant Healthcare Professionals, a staffing agency that specializes in recruiting internationally-educated RNs.
But even though they are in demand, it can take years to bring an international nurse to the U.S. For example, there's typically a three year wait for Filipino nurses to enter the country, says Costantini.
Additionally, since the Trump administration has taken office, the process for bringing international nurses to the U.S. has slowed.
"We have been recruiting international nurses and healthcare professionals for more than 14 years. The delays we are seeing with government agencies since the change in administration are dramatic. They are truly creating a hardship for many healthcare clients in critical need of nurses," she says.
The Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act, a house bill introduced in July by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrennar, (R-WI), aims to address this problem.
Visa Criteria for International Healthcare Workers
The bill designates up to 8,000 visas in the employment-based immigration third preference category (EB-3) for nurses, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals in critical needs categories.
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.