CGFNS was reauthorized by the Department of Homeland Security to issue Visa Screens and Healthcare Worker Certificates, effective November 19, 2009. The reissuance is valid for seven years and covers all seven occupations covered under INA 212(a)(5)(C). The Seven occupations are: registered and licensed vocational nurses, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, audiologists, medical technologists, medical technicians, occupational therapists and physicians assistants.
The H-1B cap of 65,000 may be reached before the end of the year. Historically, H-1B cap-subject cap filings have increased as we have gotten closer to the H-1B cap limit. MU employers are encouraged to ready any H-1B cap-subject as soon as possible.
Employees that may need an H-1B visa include:
International students working on an EAD card under an OPT or CPT program after having attended a U.S. school;
International employees working on a TN may need an H-1B filed for them in order for them to pursue a permanent residency (green card) case;
Prospective international employees in another visa status e.g. H-4, L-2, J-1, F-1;
H-1B workers with a cap exempt organization; and
Prospective international employees currently living abroad.
International workers who are working here in the U.S. on an H-1B visa with another cap-subject employer are not subject to H-1B cap. These cases are commonly referred to as “transfer” cases and may be filed at any time throughout the year.
Many healthcare professions ordinarily qualify for H-1(b) status, including Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Therapists, and some Registered Nursing jobs.
As of November 20, 2009, approximately 56,900 H-1B cap-subject petitions had been filed. USCIS has approved sufficient H-1B petitions for aliens with advanced degrees to meet the exemption of 20,000 from the fiscal year 2010 cap. Any H-1B petitions filed on behalf of an alien with an advanced degree will now count toward the general H-1B cap of 65,000. USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn.
On December 20, 2009, the H-1C Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas visa program will expire unless Congress takes further action. All H1C petitions must be filed before the December 20, 2009 expiration. At this point, it is unexpected that Congress will take the necessary action. The program was first authorized in 1999 and was last reauthorized in 2006. The H-1C is an H-1B-like visa program specifically for Registered Nurses.
While the H-1C program could be an excellent visa option for some, legacy regulation and interpretation has limited the application of the H-1C to just 14 facilities in the United States. While the H-1C expiration may be devastating for these 14 facilities, it will have no effect on any other facilities in the United States.