In New York and elsewhere across America, physicians and nurses are overwhelmed with patients suffering from COVID-19. “Nurses Die, Doctors Sick and Panic Rises on Virus Front Lines,” read a recent headline in the New York Times. Relaxed immigration policies could provide a vital boost to efforts to save American lives, according to analysts. To better understand current shortcomings in U.S. possible solutions that would bring more healthcare professionals to the front lines in America, I interviewed William Stock, a founding member of Klasko Immigration Law Partners.
Stuart Anderson: The State Department recently stated that eligible foreign workers could contact What are the practical limitations today that would prevent a foreign physician from a physician exempt from that limit. Academic medical centers and nonprofit teaching hospitals are exempt from the H-1B cap, while many community hospitals and other healthcare organizations are not.
Foreign physicians also face restrictions under the immigration laws. For example, even though most states will give a physician licensed in Canada a medical license in their state, the immigration regulations require additional tests – the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). During the crisis, the exams had to be canceled because they must be offered in-person.
Anderson: What are the practical obstacles for foreign nurses?
Stock: Nurses face even stricter limits than physicians, as most nursing positions are not eligible for the temporary H-1B visa. As such, employers needing nurses need to sponsor them directly for permanent residence, a process that takes 18 months minimum under normal circumstances.