A group of senators introduced new legislation Thursday to grant 40,000 unused green card slots to foreign health care workers needed to help U.S. medical professionals fight the coronavirus pandemic, despite the President's "immigration ban" and over 30 million joblessness claims in the past six weeks.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., a longtime stalwart of immigration-related legislation, unveiled the bill with his colleagues, Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., Todd Young, R-Ind., and Chris Coons, D-Del.
The bill would authorize up to 25,000 immigrant visas to go to foreign nurses and up to 15,000 for doctors who are eligible to come to the United States or who are already here on temporary work visas. These immigrant visas would lead to employment-based green cards. The legislation would also allow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to give out slots from a pool of previously unclaimed green cards for the families of these medical workers.
Every year, 160,000 employment-based green cards are slated to be given out, but not all of the slots get filled. The ones that don’t get used get taken off the table for that year. That has let to an accumulation of about 200,000 such unused green cards over the last three decades. Under the legislation introduced Thursday, the government would be allowed to “recapture” around 40,000 of those visas.
Currently, there are more than 10,000 medical residents already in the country on nonimmigrant J-1 visas and H-1B visas, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
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Updated: Fri, May 15th 2020 @ 11:55am EDT