Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 00051802 (posted May. 18, 2000)"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2000
Law Group Sues INS;
Let Our Healthcare Workers In
WASHINGTON, D.C. * The American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) today filed
suit against the Immigration and Naturalization Service seeking regulations
that would allow thousands of healthcare workers to become permanent residents.
The 1996 immigration law allowed healthcare workers to apply for green cards
provided the workers obtained certificates from U.S. credentialing organizations.
It also requires the INS to issue rules regulating the credentialing organizations
that will issue the certificates. When the law took effect in September 1996,
the INS stopped processing healthcare workers’ green card applications and announced
that those filings would not be processed until the INS issued regulations stating
how workers could obtain certificates.
The INS failed to issue any regulations to implement the healthcare worker
certification until 1998, when the agency was sued by Nurses and Occupational
Therapists represented by the American Immigration Law Foundation, as well as
the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools, for its failure to issue
the regulations. Unfortunately, when it finally issued the regulations,
they only covered Nurses and Occupational Therapists.
Now, four years later, the INS still has not issued regulations covering Speech
and or Language Pathologists, Medical Technologists, Medical Technicians and
Physician’s Assistants. As a result, thousands of people working in those occupations
and their families cannot become permanent residents, even though they are entitled
to do so under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The lawsuit filed today seeks to assist healthcare workers and their families.
Because the INS has not issued its legally required regulations, these vital
workers cannot change employers. They cannot be promoted, transferred to another
part of the country, or even have their jobs changed in any substantial way.
Otherwise they violate the terms of their visas, and will have to start the
lengthy immigration process all over again.
“It is absolutely outrageous that it takes the INS four years to issue a simple
regulation. These regulations are required by law. They will help thousands
of healthcare workers who everyday diagnose illnesses, assist speech impaired
children and adults, help doctors perform life-saving procedures and conduct
medical tests on Americans in both cities and rural areas that are medically
under-served,” said Jeanne Butterfield, AILF’s Acting Executive Director. “Four
years is far too long. We call upon the courts to do the right thing, the legal
thing, and compel the INS to issue the long-delayed healthcare worker regulations.”