Health Care:

Information on Foreign Nurses Working in the United States Under Temporary Work Visas

HRD-90-10: Published: Nov 21, 1989. Publicly Released: Nov 21, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO studied the nursing industry and how it was affected by the temporary and permanent foreign nursing supply.

GAO found that: (1) nurses' average salaries were generally lower than those for individuals in jobs requiring similar education and training; (2) the shortage of registered nurses negatively affected their work environment; (3) about 400,000, or 20 percent, of the 2 million registered nurses in 1988 were not working in the nursing field; (4) about 70 percent of the 24,400 foreign nurses working under temporary work visas in 1989 were Filipinos; (5) New York and Los Angeles hospital personnel said they will generally sponsor temporary foreign nurses, following a probationary period and achievement of registered nurse status; (6) medical care institutions helped 1,316 temporary foreign nurses attain permanent immigrant status during fiscal years 1985 through 1988; (7) 1,200 temporary foreign nurses in Los Angeles and New York will have to leave the United States if their work visas are not extended beyond 1989; and (8) proposed legislation would allow permanent immigration status without the usual extensive waiting period for immigrant nurses who entered the United States before 1988.

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