WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) and Congresswoman Delia Ramirez (IL-03) introduced the Expanding Health Care Providers for Veterans Act to make it easier for the VA and State Veterans Homes to hire foreign employees on H1-B visas when they cannot find a suitable applicant in the United States. Specifically, 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.
“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 Rashida Tlaib. “We cannot just express our gratitude to our veterans for their service to our country, we must do more to ensure that every veteran has the support they need to live healthy lives. I am proud to introduce this legislation to expand health care providers for our veterans by welcoming health care professionals who are immigrants to care for them, and I will continue to ensure that our veterans are not forgotten when they return home.”
“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. We can and must address this,” said Congresswoman Delia Ramirez, member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “That is why I am thankful for Congresswoman Tlaib’s leadership and her efforts to continue fighting for our veterans. I am proud to co-lead the Expanding Health Care Providers for Veterans Act that will help address the health care provider shortage by allowing our indispensable immigrant health workers, who are H1-B visa holders, to offer the services our veterans need.”
The Expanding Health Care Providers for Veterans Act was developed after the Detroit VA Medical Center nearly had to close their methadone 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. Rep. 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.
This legislation is endorsed by The Veterans For Peace Save Our VA National Project and The American Immigration Lawyers Association.
“The Veterans For Peace Save Our VA National Project endorses the Expanding Health Care Providers for Veterans Act introduced by Representative Rashida Tlaib. It is essential that the VA Healthcare System is able to expeditiously hire qualified personnel to treat veterans. Delays in hiring can and do have significant consequences for veterans needing treatment. We support employing U.S. citizens – especially veterans – but if qualified citizens are not available, treatment for veterans should not be delayed. In situations where citizens are not available, this legislation will allow VA and State Veterans Homes to hire foreign employees on H1-B visas when they cannot find a suitable US citizen applicant. Providing timely care to those who answered the call to duty is a sacred obligation, and this legislation will help the VA to meet it,” said Jeff Roy, Coordinator for The Veterans For Peace Save Our VA National Project.
“AILA welcomes Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Delia Ramirez’s introduction of the Expanding Health Care Providers for Veterans Act as a common-sense proposal to help address the health care needs of Veterans by exempting certain positions at the VA and State Veterans Homes from the H-1B visa cap. The limited number of H-1B visas available annually, and the extremely high demand for those visas, leaves VA and State Veterans Homes unable to fill critical positions. By proposing to exempt these workers from the H-1B cap, similar to how other employees of non-profit and government entities are treated, this bill would help ensure our Veterans’ healthcare needs are met,” said Sharvari Dalal-Dheini, Director of Government Relations at The American Immigration Lawyers Association.
The full text of the legislation can be found here.