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Report - Speed up foreign nurse visa process

December 12 2008

Authorities should speed up processing of visa applications from foreign nurses to help alleviate the nursing shortage, according to a report released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's ombudsman.

The nursing shortage hurts the U.S. healthcare industry, and lack of visas is the main obstacle to bringing in foreign nurses, according to the report. Only legislation can increase the number of visas. Still, the report recommended changes for speeding along processing for visas that are available.

Those changes include:
*Prioritizing nurse green-card applications so they can be expedited without a written request upon immigrant visa eligibility.
*Centralizing processing of nurse visa applications at one U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services service center in order to increase efficiency.

Chris Musillo, a partner with Hammond Law Firm based in Cincinnati, said the report recognizes the nurse shortage problem, but the changes will do little to bring in foreign nurses without legislation for more visas.

"Unfortunately without a Congressional action, not much is going to happen," Musillo said.

However, if immigration reform does happen, that coupled with the changes recommended in this report would help, he said.

For the report, click here.

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