There is legislation pending in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate which would eliminate the green card line for physicians born in India, once five years of service in a medically underserved area has been completed. Over 70% of Indian physicians working in America work in medically underserved areas.
All interested Indian physicians and their employers who want to end the decades of waiting for a green card are urged to contact their Senators and Congressman and urge them to support the legislation and to co-sponsor the legislation. The bill number in the House of Representatives is H.R. 2895 and has only eight co-sponsors. The bill number in the Senate is S. 948 and has only five co-sponsors. Fortunately, the language in both bills is identical and thus, if both the House and Senate pass their respective bills, the legislation can be sent to the President.
An amazing organization of Indian physicians has done an extraordinary job in organizing grass roots support for the bill and in organizing visits to Senators and Congressmen in Washington. Please go to their Website at www.paha.us for advocacy information.
Please take the time to visit your Congressperson and United States Senators when they visit your home district. This can be done by calling their office in Washington, DC and asking for an appointment in the home district. Congresspersons’ offices can be reached by calling 2022253121 and asking for your Congressperson’s office. Senator’s offices can be reached by calling 2022243121 and asking for your Senator’s office. It is really easy and the persons you will speak with are friendly. To locate the name of your Congressperson, google “Who Is My Representative” and to locate your Senator, go to www.senate.gov, click on the “Find Your Senators pull-down menu in the right-hand corner, select your state and click “Go”.
Summary of the Legislation:
- Allows physicians with EB2 priority dates to be promoted to non-quota status with no green card line after working in medically underserved areas for a total of five years.
- Permits J-1 waivered physicians to complete the three-year employment commitment in any valid work authorized status. Currently, the waiver commitment may be completed only in H-1B status, this change will give employers and physician greater flexibility.
- Automatically extends J-1 status with work authorization in certain situations where a physician is unable to secure a waiver slot for the year when the waiver is completed in certain situations. This will allow the physician to begin work for employers who desperately need them in situations where there is a shortage of State 30 slots. It does require that the physician obtain a job offer and a waiver in a second state which has not used its 30 slots in order to trigger the extension and work permission.
- Provides the ability for physicians to to other qualifying employment for the balance of the commitment without the expense and difficulty of proving “extenuating circumstances”, if the physician agrees to work an additional year in a qualifying underserved or FLEX area.
- Provides an H-1B grace period of 120 days, if the physician proves “extenuating circumstances” for early contract termination before completing three years; and a 45-day grace period if the physician elects not to prove extenuating circumstances and add an additional year on to the grace period. The issue with extenuating circumstances is that, except in rare cases, the existence of “extenuating circumstances” is not known until the physician and new employer take the risk of waiting for adjudication of the new employer’s transfer petition.
- Provides for re-use of the waiver slot if a physician leaves a waiver state during the waiver commitment to work in another state, provided it is during the same fiscal year as the physician’s employment was terminated.
- Allows either USCIS and the state Department of Health to determine if extenuating circumstances exist. This greatly improves predictability when a waiver transfer is sought because the state Departments of Health can be expected to issue their determinations of extenuating circumstances before the new employer files the H-1B petition. It can be expected that USCIS will continue to make post-filing determinations in conjunction with adjudication of the H-1B petition.
- Increases waiver slots up to a total of 45 in situations of high demand. It also provides for reduction to 30 waiver slots if the demand decreases.
Overall, the legislation is very good in that the EB2 green card line would be dissolved for eligible Indian physicians, without any line being created for other physicians. In fact, all physicians would be eligible for non-quota green cards after working for five years in medically underserved areas.
What to Ask Your Congressman and Senators:
- That they support the bill (H.R. 2895 and S. 948) as they would help recruit and retain physicians, particularly in rural areas and inner city urban areas.
- That they co-sponsor the bill.
- Call your Congressperson and Senators and tell them the value of J-1 and H-1B physicians in your part of America.