By: Chris Musillo

Musillo Unkenholt is pleased to report that the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act has been reintroduced into Congress. The HWRA is smart, positive legislation that will increase the supply of nurses and doctors into the US. These two occupations are among the shortest supplied occupations by US workers. Musillo Unkenholt and the AAIHR have been working closely with these offices for the last two months, assisting congressional staffers draft this legislation.

If the HWRA becomes law, all nurses and doctors whose visa applications are currently retrogressed immediately become current. Likewise, any nurse or doctor whose I-140 is filed before 90 days after the expiration of the President’s Emergency Declaration on COVID-19 is also expected to have a retrogression-free visa, although there is an overall quota of 25,000 visas for RNs and 15,000 visas for MDs. The legislation contains language asking the USCIS and Embassies and Consulates to expedite these petitions. The HWRA admirably contains US worker protections, guaranteeing that no US worker is displaced.

The HWRA has a strong set of original co-sponsors in the Senate: Sens. Durbin, Coons, Lehay (Ds) and Cornyn, Young, Collins (Rs). This is an impressive bipartisan set of Senators with decades of experience leading legislative initiatives. Companion legislation will be introduced into the House by U.S. Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL-10), Tom Cole (R-OK-04), Tom O'Halleran (D-AZ-01), and Don Bacon (R-NE-02).

Specifically, the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act:
* Recaptures unused visas from previous fiscal years for doctors, nurses, and their families
* Exempts these visas from country caps
* Requires employers to attest that immigrants from overseas who receive these visas will not displace an American worker
* Requires the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to expedite the processing of recaptured visas
* Limits the filing period for recaptured visas to 90 days following the termination of the President’s COVID-19 emergency declaration