WASHINGTON: A legislation aiming at hiring foreign healthcare professionals on H-1B visas to help the United States Department of Veteran Affairs meet the medical needs of people has been introduced.
The ‘Expanding Health Care Providers for Veterans Act’ was introduced by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Delia Ramirez on Wednesday.
If signed into a law, the legislation would make it easier for VA (veteran affairs) and State Veterans Homes to hire foreign employees on H1-B visas when they cannot find a suitable applicant in the United States.
Specifically, the bill designates the Department of Veterans Affairs and State Veterans Homes as cap exempt institutions for the purposes of the H1-B visa programme.
“Our veterans deserve high-quality healthcare, and our district knows firsthand the importance of providing access to care, especially mental health services, for veterans who need it the most,” Tlaib said.
“We cannot just express our gratitude to our veterans for their service to our country, we must do more to ensure that every veteran has the support they need to live healthy lives,” she said.
“I am proud to introduce this legislation to expand healthcare providers for our veterans by welcoming health professionals who are immigrants to care for them, and I will continue to ensure that our veterans are not forgotten when they return home,” Talib said.
Congresswoman Delia Ramirez, a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said, “We have a duty to uphold our commitment to our veterans, who are being affected by the healthworker shortage in our nation.
“We can address this shortage with the immigrants in our communities who are ready and want to work, but face so many hurdles to do so. We can and must address this,” she said.
The Expanding Health Care Providers for Veterans Act was developed after the Detroit VA Medical Centre was at the verge of closing down its methadone clinic – which provides life-saving care to more than 90 local veterans – earlier this year due to hiring difficulties imposed by the H1-B visa cap.
Tlaib’s intervention was able to prevent the clinic’s complete closure, and this bill is designed to ensure such a situation does not arise again in the future, a media release said.
This legislation is endorsed by The Veterans For Peace Save Our VA National Project and The American Immigration Lawyers Association, it said.