In response to the ongoing pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended certain immigration filing deadlines. This pertains specifically to petitioners’ and applicants’ responses to USCIS’s requests for evidence(RFEs), notices of intent to deny or revoke, appeal notices, and a few other responsive proceedings. If the issuance date listed on the request, decision, or notice is between March 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020 (inclusive of both of these dates), USCIS has committed to considering responses to these requests, notices, and decisions received within 60 calendar days after the response deadline indicated in these notices, as timely submissions. Consult your immigration legal counsel regarding the most effective ways to benefit from this extremely rare reprieve granted by the government.
On May 5, 2020, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (Senate Bill 3599). The proposed legislation aims to address the current shortage of doctors and nurses and help facilitate healthcare access and medical professionals availability during COVID-19 crisis. If signed into law, the Bill will provide for a “recapture” of a number of immigrant visas under various immigration categories that remain unused since 1992. Under the new law, these visas would go to 15,000 medical doctors and 25,000 nurses in line for permanent residence (i.e., Green Cards). Many of these front line professionals currently are subject to a multi-year (in some cases, decade long) wait for immigrant visas due to these visas shortage for their country of nationality. Per the Bill, these additional immigrant visas would not be subject to the per-country immigrant visa limitations which are particularly severe for nationals of India and P.R. China. Instead, the immigrant visa application would be available for the affected medical professionals as per the order of their priority dates (i.e., the date indicating their place in the immigrant visa line). While the particulars of the new law are not yet defined and the Bill is likely to be made part of another legislative development and to be reviewed by the House, it is already causing significant interest among foreign-born medical professionals it may potentially benefit. In preparation for the legislative development, many foreign doctors, nurses and their employers are considering their options to try and expedite the medical personnel immigration sponsorship to be in the best position to take advantage of the new law once it becomes effective. We will continue following this legislative development.