Bill would give green cards to practitioners

U.S. lawmakers are hoping to get green cards to physicians and nurses as soon as possible. A bill introduced this week by House Democrats would allow physicians on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic to bypass long wait times for a green card. A similar bill was recently drafted by Republican senators: the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act would redistribute unused green cards that had been approved by Congress, allowing upwards of 40,000 medical providers to remain permanently in the United States and provide clinical care. 

“Consider this: one-sixth of our healthcare workforce is foreign-born. Immigrant nurses and doctors play a vital role in our healthcare system, and their contributions are now more crucial than ever. Where would we be in this pandemic without them,” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) "It is unacceptable that thousands of doctors currently working in the U.S. on temporary visas are stuck in the green card backlog, putting their futures in jeopardy and limiting their ability to contribute to the fight against COVID-19.”

The legislation would give green cards to 25,000 nurses and 15,000 physicians, ensuring that rural areas especially have the appropriate number of healthcare professionals.

"Rural areas, which make up much of my district, remain especially vulnerable and are already experiencing a shortage of medical professionals. We need all hands on deck to address this generational crisis,” said Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (D- Iowa).

A green card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to immigrants to the U.S. as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently.

The filing period for the recaptured visas would be limited to 90 days after the end of President Trump's emergency declaration due to the coronavirus pandemic.