Immigration Law Group Sues INS on Behalf of Healthcare Workers

Friday, May 19, 2000


Matt Tallmer

Immigration 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.”



Cite as AILA Doc. No. 00051802.