There is an uptick in H-1B visa delays and denials, and healthcare organizations point out that this is disruptive to patient care. Between the third and fourth quarter of 2017, the number of H-1B denials for foreign-born job applicants rose by 41 percent, new data revealed. This increase started shortly after President Donald Trump issued the executive order designed to protect U.S. wages from foreign competition. Under the “Buy American, Hire American” policy, visa adjudicators at the USCIS are required to limit the admission of foreign nationals and deny applications without providing an opportunity for an employer to respond to a request for evidence.
In recent months, federal immigration authorities have put more scrutiny on H-1B visa petitions and have enacted a series of policies that make it harder for foreign-born applicants to get qualified for job openings in the U.S. Healthcare organizations are being asked for more “Requests for Evidence” to prove whether the applicant has fulfilled the occupations criteria. The rate of these requests went up by 46% in less than a year. As a result, more visa petitions have been denied while others have been asked to submit more information, resulting in prolonged delays. And nurses who are already in the U.S. but whose renewal applications are rejected could be placed in deportation proceedings.
Patients Pay the Price
The American College of Physicians in conjunction with other healthcare organizations has penned a letter to the USCIS voicing their concerns about the imminent healthcare implications of delays and denials of H-1B visas. The letter notes that the delay in visa processing can be traced by to the increased scrutiny of stipend data for foreign-born nurses. Applications that use previously acceptable resident wage data are getting denied, according to the letter. The organizations point out that denial or delay of visas are detrimental to ongoing research at hospitals and universities and this could potentially delay patient care. Thousands of qualified nurses prefer to go to other countries because they are discouraged by the long waiting times in the U.S. sector.
When nurses are short-staffed or working with a high nurse-to-patient ratio, patients are always on the receiving end as the quality of healthcare tends to deteriorate. A report by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations indicates that nursing shortage is a major factor in a third of all deaths or life-altering events.