COVID-19 Staffing Crisis at Hospitals – H-1B Cap Exempt Visas can help!

As Covid-19 spreads rapidly across the U.S., the country’s hospitals are struggling to manage their patients. While there is an acute shortage of medical supplies, staffing is fast becoming a major concern.

To tackle the staffing issue, medical schools in many states are graduating their students a few months early to fight against the novel coronavirus. This as Governors in numerous states are counting on retired health care professionals to rejoin the workforce to combat the pandemic.

But this may not be enough. In this critical time, Attorneys at Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C. would like to mention that some of the foreign medical professionals may qualify to work in the U.S. under the general H-1B Cap Exemptions criteria. There is no set quota and can be applied at any time of the year.

To qualify, a petitioning employer needs to be exempt from the H-1B Cap. H-1B petitions filed by nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations are exempt from the H-1B cap. A nonprofit research organization is an organization that is primarily engaged in basic research and/or applied research.

Some hospitals have been exempt based upon their affiliation or relation to an institution of higher education.  In some cases, the affiliation has been based upon a jointly administered program where the hospital provides clinical training for health-care workers (nurses, medical technologists, physicians, physician assistants, dental professionals, pharmacists, and mental health professionals, etc.) enrolled at that institution. 

The H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Unless determined to be exempt, H-1B petitions are subject to either the 65,000 statutory cap or the 20,000 statutory visa cap exemption.

On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that it is encouraging medical professionals with an approved U.S. nonimmigrant or immigrant visa petitions  (I-129, I-140, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor program (DS-2019), particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to review the website of their nearest embassy or consulate for procedures to request a visa appointment.

The announcement suggests that U.S. embassies and consulates will expedite the issuance of visas for eligible medical professionals despite the DOS’ suspension on March 20, 2020, of regular visa services for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. 

For those foreign medical professionals already in the United States in J-1 status, DOS says, they may consult with their program sponsor, ECFMG, to extend their programs in the country.

For more on how you as a foreign medical professional, or as an organization who would like to utilize the H-1B Cap-exempt quota or the J-1 visa kindly contact, the immigration and nationality lawyers and attorneys at the NPZ Law Group. 

We are here to help and invite you to visit us on the web at or to email us at or call the firm at 201.670.0006 (x107).