We crossed an enormous hurdle tonight when the Senate formally passed and added our bridge amendment to the Labor HHS appropriations bill!

The amendment calls for 61,000 visas for Schedule A occupations and their immediate family members. Employers will need to pay a Training Fee of $1,500 for each nurse immigrant. Certain healthcare facilities can have the fee waived. There is also a provision that calls for nurses to attest that they don’t owe their native country any financial obligations. This is fantastic news and the huge step in the process.

The Senate also passed an increase to the H1 Training fee, which was offered by Sen. Grassley. New training fee= $3,500!

For the nurse amendment, we still have to survive the conference, the likely veto, and re-conference. The House and Senate will formally begin their Conference on Wednesday and Thursday. Senators have been informally conferencing for about a month.

We need everyone to send thank yous to the Senators that they have been working on — and remind them that it is critical that the Senators fight to make sure that the Nurse Amendment survives Conference. The biggest risk is probably that some Congressmen will not like the $3500 Grassley H1 tax. If that happens Grassley may fight to take out all immigration amendments — including our Nurse amendment.

Once we survive Conference, we’ll worry about the President’s veto threat….

UPDATE: The training fee is remaining $1,500, but there is a new H-1 fee of $3,500. There are now these fees for H-1 cases:

– $320 regular filing fee
– $500 security fee
– $1500 H-1 training fee
– $3500 supplemental fee
– $1000 premium processing fee (if necessary)