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Will New Visa Law Boost Staffing?

The tight job market for nursing staff could be eased somewhat with the signing into law of new legislation to increase the number of H-1B visas available to bring in highly skilled, foreign temporary workers. The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act will increase the number of H-1B visas available to 195,000 for each of the next three years. Also, the new law will increase the fee charged to employers using the H-1B program from $500 per visa to $1,000, and direct the majority of these funds to programs for training U.S. workers.

Charles H. Roadman, II, MD, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association (AHCA), said the new law represents a "positive, incremental step forward that will help healthcare providers recruit and retain qualified nursing staff in an extremely challenging labor market." Dr. Roadman also noted that the authorization of new H-1B visas will advance AHCA's stated goal of finding and hiring 60,000 new registered nurses by 2002 (although AHCA maintains that the more pressing need is for 250,000 certified nursing assistants, which will likely be addressed in other legislation this year).

In signing the bill into law, President Clinton expressed concern that certain provisions in the legislation could, in some cases, weaken existing protections designed to ensure that the H-1B program does not undercut the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers, as well as increasing the vulnerability of H-1B workers to unscrupulous employers using the program. Clinton thus directed the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), in consultation with the departments of State and Labor, to monitor the impact of these provisions to determine whether the next Congress should revisit these H-1B program revisions.
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Title Annotation:increase in H-1B visas
Author:Schwartz, Ronald M.
Publication:Nursing Homes
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:285
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