DOL Implements Nursing Relief Act
The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and Wage and Hour Division have published a final rule (PDF), effective April 5, 2010, to implement the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Reauthorization Act of 2005 (NRDARA), which reauthorized the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999 (NRDAA), finalizing these rules “for enforcement purposes.” This legislation allows certain health care facilities to file, and authorizes the Department to review, approve, and enforce, attestation applications to employ foreign workers as registered nurses in health professional shortage areas on a temporary basis under the H-1C visa. Facilities filed these forms with the Department as a condition for petitioning U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for H-1C nurses.
The NRDAA created a new temporary visa program for nonimmigrant foreign workers to work as registered nurses for up to three years in certain facilities that serve Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Although the application period for H-1C visa petitions has now expired, H-1C nurses are allowed to work in the U.S. until the expiration of their authorized stay, which may be as much as three years after the petition was authorized. The Department said the final rule is intended to ensure that worker protections are in place for nurses currently employed in H-1C status, whose stays may extend beyond December 20, 2009.