By, Tina Huber, Senior Immigration Paralegal
I have been at Bashyam Spiro for over 4 years. When I first started with the firm my specialty was the immigration of foreign registered nurses to the United States. This was a special immigration niche that I had past experience with and is still my favorite kind of case to work on. I work on various employment-based immigration cases now, but when reflecting on the work that I do I have found the immigration process for foreign nurses the most unforgettable.
I deal with hardworking and underpaid healthcare professionals who live exhausting lives in third world countries and somehow, are lucky to find a U.S. hospital or medical institution that will sponsor them.
Unlike other skilled workers, nurses don’t go through the labor certification process and can essentially come into the U.S. with a green card (after many hoops and hurdles are cleared). However, the process they go through to get the green card takes MANY, MANY years.
Once the I-140 is approved, I have the dual task of bearing good news and bad news to the beneficiary. The good news is that their petition has been approved and the National Visa Center will begin processing their immigrant visa case once their priority date is current, handling everything until it is time for their visa interview in their home country. The bad news is that their priority date may be 5 – 8 YEARS from becoming current. How do you put that in plain words for someone who wants to book their ticket to the U.S. before I have even finished congratulating them? It is heart wrenching to explain that most likely their young children will probably get to finish high school, not start elementary school, in the U.S., and that they must carry on with their lives “just getting by” for a few years more, unless Congress sees fit to remedy the U.S. nurse shortage soon. Which is not likely.
I love to think that just being a part of the U.S. immigration process makes life better for them in their home countries; that they tell their friends that they have an approved immigration petition and that one day soon they will be working in America. I hope that that is enough for them while they endure the long, arduous wait and I hope I am there when they get to cross the finish line.