The Trump administration is throwing a monkey wrench into plans of 3,814 foreigners who have won hard-to-get positions as residents in U.S. hospitals staring this summer. It’s uncertain how many will be able to start work on time. The administration’s actions might produce serious staffing problems at some hospitals.
The problem is that a program that lets employers fast-track H-1B visa applications (by highly skilled people) for their employees has been suspended as of Monday April 3. Match Day, when new residents learn where they will be placed was March 17. So some hospitals are “rushing to figure out who needed this kind of visa and to apply before ‘premium processing’ would no longer be an option,” reports STAT.
“They are battling against the clock,” Claire Ayer told STAT in reference to her staff in the Partners HealthCare Office for International Professionals and Students, which handles visa applications for the international staff and students of its Boston-area hospitals, including world-famed Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s. She said that they had been ”working evenings, weekend and early mornings to get ‘premium processing’ for as many international residents as possible before Monday.”
STAT explains: “The faster turnaround costs $1,225 per applicant, but it makes a difference. With ‘premium processing,’ a visa application is answered in 15 days. Without it, the evaluation can take more than six months — and the government does not allow you to apply for an H-1B visa more than six months in advance.”
Not all international medical residents come to America on an H-1B visa. Most get a J-1, which offers “cultural or educational exchange opportunities.” But, STAT reports, “some either aren’t eligible for a J-1, or don’t want that type of visa because it requires that you return to your home country at the end of your training for two years. And the only way to get around the mandatory trip back home is to work in an underserved community — which, in turn, requires that you get an H-1B.”