New York, May 27 (IANS): Two US Congresswomen have introduced a bill to make it easier for the Department of Veteran Affairs to hire foreign employees on H1-B visas when they cannot find a suitable applicant in the country.
Introduced by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Delia Ramirez on Thursday, the Expanding Health Care Providers for Veterans Act, will help address the healthcare provider shortage in the US by allowing immigrant health workers, who are H1-B visa holders, to offer the services that the veterans need.
The bill designates the Department of Veterans Affairs and State Veterans Homes as cap exempt institutions for the purposes of the H1-B visa program.
"We have a duty to uphold our commitment to our veterans, who are being affected by the health worker 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," said Congresswoman Ramirez, member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
The Expanding Health Care Providers for Veterans Act was developed after the Detroit VA Medical Center nearly had to close their 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.
Representative Tlaib's intervention was able to prevent the clinic's closure, and this bill is designed to ensure such a situation does not arise again in the future, a statement released by the Congresswoman's office said.
"Our veterans deserve high-quality health care, and our district knows firsthand the importance of providing access to care, especially mental health services for veterans who need it most," said Congresswoman Tlaib.
"I am proud to introduce this legislation to expand healthcare providers for our veterans by welcoming healthcare professionals who are immigrants to care for them, and I will continue to ensure that our veterans are not forgotten when they return home," she said.
This legislation is endorsed by The Veterans For Peace Save Our VA National Project and The American Immigration Lawyers Association.