RELEASE: Removing Barriers for Immigrant Medical Professionals Is Critical To Help Fight Coronavirus

Washington, D.C. — The coronavirus pandemic has increased the demand for medical professionals around the country. As state governments consider actions to increase the number of practicing doctors, nurses, and other health care workers, a new column from the Center for American Progress looks at the role that immigrant medical professionals can play in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis also outlines actions that the federal government and states should take to increase health care service capacity in U.S. cities and localities immediately.

Key recommendations include:

  • The federal government should remove red tape that is preventing immigrant health care workers from serving, including removing roadblocks to obtaining visas and work permits and suspending restrictions on where immigrant physicians with H-1B and J-1 waivers can work.
  • States should ease burdensome residency requirements for foreign-trained doctors. Graduates of foreign medical schools are currently required to serve longer residencies—these requirements should be eased.
  • States should find ways for immigrant doctors who have passed U.S. medical licensing exams, but are not in residency programs, to help.
  • Medical professionals who are J-1 visa holders should be given more flexibility to easily transfer to coronavirus hot spots, even if these hot spots are not on the preapproved list of places where they can practice.

“Immigrants are the backbone of America’s health system. They are 29 percent of all U.S. physicians, 22 percent of nursing assistants, and 38 percent of home health aides. Yet, for many years, they have faced red tape and restrictions, which have limited their ability to care for people, even when their talents are desperately needed,” said Silva Mathema, associate director for policy on the Immigration Policy team at CAP and author of the column. “Both the federal and state governments should act quickly to remove burdensome restrictions, which are preventing many immigrant medical professionals from joining the fight against the pandemic. People’s lives depend upon it.”

Read the column: “Removing Barriers for Immigrant Medical Professionals Is Critical To Help Fight Coronavirus” by Silva Mathema

Related sources:

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, please visit our coronavirus resource page.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Claudia Montecinos at .