I like to follow the issue of nursing immigration because it shows how U.S. immigration policy deals with a specific, large, and well defined class of professional workers. The Senate immigration reform bill removes caps for nurses for seven years.
According to the NY Times, foreign nurses have to pass U.S. nursing tests to qualify for visas. The articles goes on to say:
Last year, American nursing schools rejected almost 150,000 applications from qualified people, according to the National League for Nursing, a nonprofit group that counts more than 1,100 nursing schools among its members. One of the most important factors limiting the number of students was a lack of faculty to teach them, nursing organizations say. Professors of nursing earn less than practicing nurses, damping demand for teaching positions. Under the current immigration system, experts estimate that 12,000 to 14,000 nurses have immigrated to the United States annually on employment visas.
The primary sources for American employers will be the Philippines, India and China. Typically, nurses who enter the U.S. under the special J category for nurses obtain a green card for permanent residency and can bring their immediate family.
A nurse in the Philippines would earn a starting salary of less than $2,000 a year and at least $36,000 in the United States, said Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, a medical professor at the University of the Philippines who led the country’s National Institutes of Health.
Britain is reportedly making financial compensation to Malawi to recognize that country’s loss of nurses to migrate to the U.K. If any nation has demanded such compensation or financial aid from the U.S., it has not been reported.