As many of you have noticed, the pace of nurse immigration has been much too slow recently. It is a result of a bottleneck at the visa interview stage at the United States consulates.
Kennedy Healthcare Recruiting currently has over 80 nurses with approved visa petitions and who have completed the entire NVC processing stage, just waiting for appointments to receive their visas so they can fly to the United States and begin work.
Unfortunately, consulates (particularly the Manila consulate) have been extremely slow in bringing back furloughed visa officers or hiring staff to fill vacancies. Additionally, the Biden Administration has prioritized immigrants sponsored by family members, leaving immigrants like our nurses at the bottom of the list.
We have formally requested expedites for every nurse, but unfortunately, virtually every other visa candidate has requested an expedite as well, so expedite requests seem to be falling on deaf ears.
Kennedy Healthcare Recruiting has a steady and increasing flow of nurses coming in, and by all accounts, they are settling in well and providing solid nursing services. But the backlogs remain unacceptable long.
In this frustrating atmosphere, unsubstantiated rumors abound (everyone seems to have a friend who has a neighbor who has a cousin who knows a guy who got his green card in three months, and the recruiter also bought him a 60 inch TV!). But I can assure you that we really are working hard and are very anxious to get all of the nurses to the US as soon as we can (that is how we get paid).
We are submitting everything we can with USCIS, DOS, and other agencies to do so. DOS has specifically told us that they heavily frown upon multiple expedite requests or inquiries that distract them from doing their jobs and doing so could knock those nurses to the back of the line. So we are not sending in duplicate requests, letters, or documents that DOS has not requested. We personally know the immigration lawyers that work with the biggest nurse recruiters around the world, and we are all in the same predicament. Some would like you to believe otherwise, but no other agency has a magic formula to get all their nurses here faster than everyone else.
One thing all informed agencies, immigration lawyers, and other specialists agree on is that, an understaffed DOS is overwhelmed with a DQ backlog of over 500,000 and tens of thousands of expedite requests, with no system in place for reviewing and adjudicating expedite requests in a fair and orderly manner, and that there is no discernable pattern, rhyme, or reason to the expedite process, with essentially random results.
Recently, Vibra, AHA, and KHR have made some progress on individualized DOS assistance to KHR nurses, but still not enough. Additionally, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services recently stated that DOS will soon formally make healthcare a priority, with a goal of processing at least 2,000 nurses a month in Manila, starting in December (up from 100-125 per month recently). They are also working with other consular posts and hope to have similar progress in January and February. This shift in priorities could speed up processing for all KHR nurses dramatically.
KHR will continue filing expedite requests as appropriate and as new demonstrably accurate information develops. We will also continue to work closely and diligently with DOS liaison, AHA, AILA, and other organizations to try and speed up consular processing for our nurses, and to adjust the visa-processing rules and procedures to allow international nurses to help the U.S. respond to the COVID crisis.
We will keep you all in the loop as changes occur. Thank you for your patience.