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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC and Medical Organizations Advocate Exemption from H-1B Visa Suspension


    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    The AAMC joined 34 health professions organizations on a July 8 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf that asks for additional clarification regarding President Donald Trump’s June 22 proclamation, which limits entry into the United States for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas.

    The proclamation would suspend issuing H-1B "specialty occupation" visas, among others, through Dec. 30, 2020. Generally, the suspension does not apply to valid nonimmigrant visas issued before June 24 nor to individuals already in the United States before that date [see Washington Highlights, June 26].

    The letter states, "As you establish standards to define categories of immigrants covered by this section, we urge you to clarify that all health care professionals, such as medical residents and fellows, biomedical researchers, and those working in non-clinical settings—not only those who are involved in COVID-19 research and practice—are critical to our national interest, and therefore exempt from the proclamation."

    Physicians, medical residents, and researchers are eligible for the H-1B visa. The proclamation exempts individuals who "are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized" or "are involved with the provision of medical research at United States facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19."

    The letter continues, “It is critical not to endanger patient care and our research enterprise by closing our borders to skilled health and science professionals during this pandemic and beyond. We must ensure that the U.S. has a fair and efficient immigration system that strengthens American health care and advances the nation’s health security.”