Hospitals across the country are struggling more than ever to fill an enormous national demand for skilled nurses. The demand has grown so severe due to the coronavirus pandemic that hospitals across the country are joining many other industries in looking to foreign national workers to fill the shortage. Currently, more than 5,000 nurses are awaiting approval of their visas to begin working in the U.S.
Foreign nationals currently compose approximately a sixth of the U.S. workforce, and as an increasing number of nurses are leaving the profession, the need is only growing. Though the quantity of individuals enrolled in nursing school since the pandemic started has grown, it has not been enough to offset the immense demand. Even before the pandemic struck, the staffing shortage was severe, but since many nurses have retired in response to the demanding and stressful situation brought on by the pandemic, many hospitals have called the situation untenable. The issue has grown so severe that one industry group has called for the United States Department of Health and Human Services to declare the shortage a national crisis.
The vice-president of operations at one hospital noted that three of the hospital’s most experienced nurses, each with at least twenty years under their belts had all recently announced that they were retiring. Many hospitals just like this one have had to move to hire travelling nurses, which often charge up to $200 per hour, and in this hospital’s case, it was employing 200 of these nurses leading to a $6 million increase in nursing costs in only four months. However, these practices are not sustainable, and instead, many hospitals are turning to international recruits.
Many of these international recruits come from staffing agencies that help to place them in U.S. hospitals. In some of these cases, the nurses are provided with limited training such as how to pay taxes and other ordinary challenges to help them transition to life in the U.S.
However, the biggest challenge hospitals are facing in recruiting these workers is the immigration process. As fast as jobs can be offered, these nurses still must go through an interview process with the State Department in order to be issued a visa, and currently, the backlog for receiving these interviews is long. Many of the embassies where these interviews can be performed are closed or operating under limited conditions due to the pandemic.
Once these nurses do arrive, their employers will need to complete the Form I-9 process, and their credentials will need to be verified. The process can be a difficult one, and one of the best ways to help make it a bit easier is with an electronic I-9 management tool. This can guide HR personnel through the process and ensure documentation is secured in a manner compliant with federal law.
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