MANILA, Philippines — Nurses, including Filipinos, are not covered by the US Department of Homeland Security’s ban on the issuance of new work visas to foreign workers, a lawmaker representing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) said yesterday.
“Filipino nurses entering America through the sponsorship of their prospective US employers apply for and are issued a separate entry permit – the H-1B visa,” Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III of party-list group ACTS-OFW said.
Bertiz said the H-1B visa program allows US employers to hire foreign staff, including nurses, in select occupations that require the application of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent work experience. He added the visa ban covers mostly trainees and agricultural workers.
Bertiz predicted that the demand for Filipino nurses in the US would steadily increase in the years ahead. “America’s nursing workforce is growing old and they are not producing new nurses fast enough, mainly because they lack teaching staff. In fact, US schools are turning away would-be nursing students due to the shortage of qualified instructors,” he said.
In California alone, Filipinos account for some 20 percent of the state’s entire nursing labor force, Bertiz said. He said a total of 187,103 Filipino nurses have taken America’s nursing licensure examination for the first time since 1995.
Last year, 10,302 Filipino nurses hoping to land jobs in the US took the licensure exam. Bertiz said the 2018 figure “was up 32 percent versus the 7,791 Filipino nurses who took the eligibility test for the first time in 2017, without counting repeaters.” He said 1,232 Indians, 1,017 Puerto Ricans, 783 South Koreans and 601 Nigerians also took the exam for the first time in 2018.
Bertiz said examinees have to pay $200 (P10,500). Citing latest data from the US nursing board, Bertiz said Jamaicans, Canadians and Cubans compete with Filipinos in America’s nursing labor market.
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