Rounds’ bill tackles hiring, placement of qualified immigrants in U.S. healthcare facilities

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U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) recently cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would enhance the nation’s nurse and physician workforce by recapturing unused immigrant visas.

“Legal immigration is a critical part of our workforce,” Sen. Rounds said on Tuesday. “As the healthcare worker shortage continues to impact South Dakota and other rural states, we are in need of qualified, hard-working nurses and physicians to fill positions in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.” 

Sen. Rounds on Nov. 2 introduced the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, S. 3211, alongside bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 14 other original cosponsors, including U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Todd Young (R-IN).

If enacted, S. 3211 would make a limited number of Green Cards available to qualified immigrant nurses and physicians to address critical healthcare workforce shortages. 

The bill also would permit the “recapture” of Green Cards already authorized by Congress but unused in previous years, allotting up to 25,000 immigrant visas for nurses and up to 15,000 immigrant visas for physicians. This bill does not authorize any new visas, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

Additionally, S. 3211 would require employers to attest that immigrants from overseas who receive these visas will not displace an American worker, the summary says, and would necessitate eligible immigrant medical professionals to meet licensing requirements, pay filing fees, and clear national security and criminal history background checks before receiving recaptured Green Cards.

The measure is supported by the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, Sanford Health, and Avera Health.

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