For Immediate Release
Contact: Dara Streit
Union Leadership Seeks to Meet With Representatives and Demand Action Amid Pandemic
Long Island City, New York– On Friday, senior executives of the Committee of Interns and
Residents/SEIU (CIR) sent a letter calling on Federal legislators to act on several pressing
immigration issues that would have dire consequences if left unaddressed, including limiting the
amount of doctors eligible to work in American hospitals during the pandemic.
U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services abruptly suspended the processing of H-1B visas on
March 20th under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security. This leaves many of
the union’s membership of recent foreign national medical graduates and continuing residents
unable to work in the fight against COVID-19 when the new residency term begins on July 1st.
Union leadership urges the U.S. Department of State to use its emergency powers and waive
the Statement of Need requirement for the 2020-2021 residency year. With no end in sight to
the processing suspension, these graduates and continuing residents are further unable to
extend their current J-1 status by acquiring a Statement of Need from their home Ministry of
Health due to the pandemic.
In their letter, CIR’s leadership strongly urges the legislators to support both the “Conrad State
30” and “Physician Access Reauthorization Act,” S. 948 and H.R. 2895 respectively, which
address the barriers that many foreign national medical graduates and continuing residents
currently face in their effort to serve in our hospitals during this crisis. The legislation would
continue the State J-1 waiver program, increase the number of waivers available per state and
remove limits placed on doctors from certain countries.
By unilaterally suspending the processing of petitions, the Department of Homeland Security
has dangerously limited the amount of doctors eligible to assist in fighting this pandemic at a
time when the nation needs them most. The Committee of Interns and Residents calls on their
federal representatives, as well as the Department of State, to address this potentially
disastrous shortage of doctors.
The Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) is the largest housestaff union in the United
States. A local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing over 17,000
resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training
and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.