Immigration and the Nurse Workforce

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ANA supports the ability of individual nurses to choose to practice in the location of their choice. However, ANA opposes the Rural and Urban Health Care Act of 2005 (H.R. 248) which would weaken current certification requirements for nurses educated in foreign schools of nursing.

Any foreign license submitted by the health care worker must be validated. Foreign-educated nurses must have passed an examination testing both nursing skill and English language proficiency.

  • The Immigration and Naturalization Service requires all foreign-trained nurses to be certified by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). The certification process must verify that the foreign health care worker

  • Past efforts to weaken these requirements for temporary nurse visas have resulted in the exploitation of immigrant nurses. There are numerous, disturbing examples from the expired H-1A nurse visa. These nurses were employed as lower-paid aides, were made to work unreasonable hours in unsafe conditions, and were mislead about the temporary nature of their visas.

  • Over-reliance on foreign-educated nurses by the health care industry serves only to postpone efforts to address the needs of the U.S. nursing workforce. ANA maintains that it is inappropriate to look overseas for temporary workforce relief when the real problem is the fact that the U.S. health care industry has failed to maintain a work environment that retains experienced U.S. nurses in patient care.

  • In addition, there are serious ethical questions about recruiting nurses from other countries when there is a world-wide shortage of nurses. The removal of foreign-educated nurses from areas such as South Africa, India, and the Caribbean deprives their home countries of highly-trained health care practitioners upon whose skills and talents their countries heavily rely.