As elective surgeries and doctor visits are canceled due to COVID, many hospitals and health care facilities have begun to lay off healthcare workers who are not providing COVID related services. Hospitals have halted revenue-generating elective surgeries and routine procedures, and a record number of nurses and healthcare workers have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Newsweek. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported healthcare lost 1.4 million jobs in April. A health care H-1B visa holder who loses their job is also at risk of losing their legal status.
The United States is dependent on immigrant healthcare workers. According to the American Community Survey:
• 28% of all surgeons and physicians in the United States are immigrants
• 16.3% of all U.S. nurses are immigrants
• 15% of all American healthcare workers are immigrants
Millions of healthcare workers and others who are in the United States on a temporary work visa have lost or are at risk of losing their job due to the pandemic.
Chicago immigration attorney Mario Godoy explained,
“Immigrant health care workers who are legally in the United States are putting their lives on the line during the fight against COVID. If they lose their job due to no fault of their own, their H-1B visa holder legal status is also at risk. The visa process should recognize the life-saving services our immigrant health care workers provide.”
If you are a healthcare worker on an H-1B visa and are laid off or furloughed from your job, you have 60 days to find a new employer:
• If you do not find employment in 60 days, you may be “accruing unlawful presence.”
• The longer you stay in the United States beyond the 60-day authorized period after losing your job, the more severe the long-term immigration and travel penalties become.
• If you stay 12 months or more after you are laid off from your job without finding a new job you can be barred from entering the United States for 10 years.
For healthcare H-1B workers who already have a green card application pending, losing their job now can destroy their hope of achieving the American dream. The American Immigration Lawyers Association requested that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) temporarily waive some immigration requirements during the pandemic, when USCIS offices are closed or working at a lower capacity. USCIS has agreed to be flexible on some application deadlines and agreed to reuse old biometrics for certain types of work authorization requests:
“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has taken steps to help individuals, employers, and others address some of the immigration-related challenges they face as a direct result of the COVID-19 national emergency.”
Godoy Law Firm’s experienced business immigration attorneys can help with visas for health care professionals and employers, including hospitals, nursing homes, physicians, registered nurses, physical therapists, medical technologists, occupational therapists, nursing assistants.
Contact Godoy Law Office today at 855-554-6369 to answer foreign nurses and doctor’s questions about immigration, help you file an immigration application and guide you through every step of the immigration process.