A recent report from the National Foundation for American Policy, a pro-immigration think tank based in Arlington, Virginia, has found that the US immigration system is putting obstacles in the way of foreign medical professionals who want to work in the US. This, the report says, is unwise because the US population is ageing and has an increasing need for medical services. The report recommends reforms to the system that would make it easier for foreign health professionals to work in the US.
The report, US Government, Heal Thyself: Immigration Restrictions and America's Growing Health Care Needs, comes up with four major recommendations.
• Increase the number of green cards for medical professionals.
• Create a dedicated temporary visa for nurses
• Expand the 'Conrad 30 waiver system' so that more doctors qualify and
• To simplify the procedures for licensing medical staff in individual states to make it easier and quicker for foreign medical staff to become registered and accredited.
Green cards should be reserved for medics
Currently, 140,000 employment-based green cards are granted annually in the US. The NACP suggests that a number of these visas should be reserved for medical professionals, allowing a greater number to enter the US each year.
The Conrad 30 waiver system allows foreign doctors who have trained in the US under a J1 student visa to apply for an H-1B visa which would allow them to work at a designated medical facility for three years. They can only work in an area designated by the US Department of Health and Human Services as a Health Professionals Shortage Area (HPSA) or a Medically Underserved Area (MUA) or in a facility that serves a Medically Underserved Population (MUP). At present each state has a limit on the number of Conrad 30 waivers it will grant. For example, California grants only 30 per year. The NFAP says that this number should be increased greatly.
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