House legislation would allow U.S. to accept more foreign-educated nursesFlorida Rep. Robert Wexler (D) recently reintroduced legislation to the House that would free up thousands of work visas over the next few years for foreign nurses and physical therapists. It is legislation nursing home groups have approved of in years past.
Wexler's legislation would allocate 20,000 employment-based visas per year over the next three years to attract foreign-educated nurses and physical therapists to the U.S. One major objective of the legislation is to alleviate the current nursing shortage. The bill also would help U.S.-based nursing schools expand their operations and train more American nurses. The bill also calls for a three-year pilot program with the goal of keeping existing U.S. nurses in the workforce.
This is not the first time such legislation has been introduced in Congress. Another version of the bill, which is called The Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act, was introduced during the last congressional session. That bill was voted on and passed by The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law. It was not brought to a full House vote. (McKnight's, 8/5/08)