AHCA leads coalition advocating for immigration prioritization of HCWs in light of staffing crisis

AHCA/NCAL led a Coalition effort and recently sent a letter to the U.S. State Department with several other long-term organizations, including the Association of Jewish Aging Services, ANCOR, Argentum, American Senior Housing Association, LeadingAge, Lutheran Services in America, Pediatric Complex Care Association, National Association of State Veterans Homes, The Jewish Federations of North America, and AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.  In the letter, the Coalition noted to the State Department that the visa restrictions put in place because of COVID have significantly worsened our staffing crisis.  The Immigrant Visa Prioritization update, issued by the State Department on April 30, placed nurses and other skilled healthcare professionals in the lowest priority tier for the visa authorization process for entry into the United States. This categorization is causing significant delays of entry into the United States for a desperately needed population of foreign-trained immigrant health care workers and nurses. It was noted in the email to the State Department that, in light of the influx of refugees from Afghanistan, we would be interested in identifying employment opportunities at our centers for those refugees who would be interested in working in them. 
If the Department were to amend the Immigrant Visa Prioritization update and prioritize the entry of foreign-trained nurses and health care workers into the United States, we could significantly accelerate the timeline under which these health care professionals could enter the United States.  In the letter, we also offered to meet with the State Department to discuss the current workforce crisis we are facing.
Last evening, the U.S. State Department made an announcement that is a positive first step. Embassies and the National Visa Center (NVC) have been instructed to consider the visa applications on an expedited basis for individuals who are going to be employed for health care positions that will work on pandemic response. We hope that this new guidance will make embassies more inclined to grant expedited visas for our employees.  As we have further updates around this, will keep AHCA/NCAL members apprised.

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