In response to the United States’ ongoing health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a bipartisan group of senators has introduced a new bill, The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, to offer additional green cards to medical frontline workers by recapturing 40,000 unused immigrant visas and allocating them for doctors and nurses.

The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, S. 3599, 116, sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin, (D-Ill.), Susan Collins, (R-Maine), John Cornyn, (R-Texas), Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.), Todd Young, (R-Ind.), and Chris Coons, (D-Del.), was initially introduced to the Senate in May 2020 and recognized a concerning shortage of physicians and nurses in the United States amidst the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed bipartisan bill would recapture thousands of unused immigrant visas from prior years and reallocate 25,000 of these immigrant visas for nurses and 15,000 for physicians. Immigrant visas for the spouses and unmarried children of these health care workers would also be recaptured. This proposed legislation would expedite the ability of foreign-born health care workers to become lawful permanent residents of the United States and allow them to assist in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

The proposed bill notes that eligible physicians and nurses would have up to 90 days after the expiration of the COVID-19 national health emergency declaration to apply for these unused visas. Employers seeking to hire the foreign-born health care workers are required to show that the foreign-born worker will not displace a U.S. worker. Additionally, the legislation would further require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State to expedite the visa processing of these recaptured visas, while also mandating that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services waive the required premium processing fees.