How Immigration Helps the US Healthcare Sector

This past year more than ever, the healthcare system was put under significant strain as the United States, and the rest of the world, battled COVID-19. In regards to the demand on the healthcare employees, it is a preview of workloads to come. Based on the current amount of Americans (76 million!) who are entering their elderly years in the near future, our country’s healthcare system will face unprecedented demand, adding jobs faster than any other segment of our economy to meet with the supply of elderly patients and their needs.

COVID-19 shed a light on the fact that we are already in a moment of concern, with a noticeable shortage of healthcare workers, particularly in rural areas but also in metropolitan markets. In all 50 states, there are already far more healthcare jobs open than there are workers available to fill them. 

This also brings to light a unique opportunity to highlight the benefits of immigration–not just in regards to stimulating population growth as we have mentioned in the past. Beyond that, immigrants have already been a particularly important means of filling some of our most prevalent healthcare needs. And according to research from the New American Economy, immigrants are not only twice as likely as native-born to fill lesser skilled home health aide positions, but also twice as likely to fill high-skilled positions as physicians and surgeons. 

In simple terms: the US healthcare system needs a larger immigrant workforce.

Some visas directly assist immigrant healthcare professionals, but the process needs to be expanded to allow for more medical expertise. For example, H1-B and other talent visas are a way for exceptional medical professionals to secure jobs in the United States, but that route is a crowded pool of other specialty STEM occupations and many talented applicants are rejected simply due to luck and caps on visa distribution. 

Additionally, many foreign medical residents who study in the United States come on the J-1 visa, which is a visa that requires them to return home for at least two years after completing their training. There is one program, “The Conrad 30 Waiver,” which allows states to waive this return requirement for foreign medical residents willing to take jobs in underserved areas–and there are plenty at the moment. However, it is restrictive, and some medical talent want to be in urban areas close to family and colleagues to provide a sense of community in their new homeland. Temporary healthcare worker visas, along with structured relicensing, could go a long way in attracting and retaining foreign medical talent. 

If you are a US healthcare institution looking to bring foreign talent, you do have a few options in your corner. Contact us today for a free employer immigration consultation.