On Tuesday January 29, 2013, President Obama spoke in Las Vegas, NV and outlined his plan for his plan for comprehensive immigration reform. While most of the President’s plan was devoted to addressing issues relating to foreign nationals illegally in the U.S. and the businesses which illegally employ them, the President’s proposal did included provisions that relate to work visas.
The President proposed to eliminate the backlog for employment-sponsored immigration by eliminating annual country caps and adding additional visas to the system, as well as updating legal immigration programs that are currently outdated in an effort to meet current and future demands by exempting certain categories from annual visa limitations. This provision could be extremely beneficial to foreign national healthcare workers given the significant need for healthcare workers in the U.S.
The President also outlined a provision for attaching green cards to advanced degrees acquired in the US in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (commonly referred to as STEM degrees). This would affect some foreign national healthcare workers.
Like the other programs that have been introduced in the last couple of days, the President’s program did not specifically identify exactly what would be done and the affect it would have on foreign national healthcare workers. For that reason, as with the case of any legislation, when it is initially introduced, it’s important to remember that bills evolve and are modified and negotiated throughout the process of moving them through the House of Representative and the U.S. Senate, before they are finally presented to the President for signature.
It’s impossible to say at this time what provisions will end up in any final bill. The important thing to remember is that significant effort is going to be exerted this spring in an effort to reform the immigration system. We are hopeful this will include provisions that are beneficial for foreign national healthcare workers. Please check back with us regularly for updates as we expect things to move very quickly in the next few months.