Trump visa changes keep Canadian nurses from metro Detroit hospitals

Specialized Canadian nurses have been stopped from entering the work at metro Detroit hospital systems, and many more could lose their ability to work here under the Trump administration's visa changes, one of the region's largest health systems warned Thursday.

"We really question the motives", immigration lawyer Marc Topoleski told the CBC.

All other Canadian nurses working in the USA have non-immigrant NAFTA professional (TN) visas.

The nurse was informed by the CBP that advance practice nurses are no longer recognized as registered nurses - therefore, they do not qualify for TN visas.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it is working with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services "for greater clarity in regards to specialized categories that fall under the registered nurse classification".

"We are already short staffed", Kunkel said at a news conference this afternoon at Henry Ford's administrative offices in Midtown Detroit.

Now she is wondering about the future of her nursing career in the United States.

The issue has caused concern for Patti Kunkel, a Canadian resident who works as an acute care nurse practitioner for Henry Ford Hospital.

In a 43-page ruling, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson, who presides in Honolulu, concluded in no uncertain terms that the new executive order failed to pass legal muster at this stage and the state had established "a strong likelihood of success" on their claims of religious discrimination.

The delays are being blamed on unannounced changes in the interpretation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump has pledged to renegotiate NAFTA, blaming it for significant American job losses.

That would be a big problem for Henry Ford Health System, which relies on more than 300 Canadian nurses, about 30 of them "advanced practice" nurses. "To say that, because they're advanced or have a more advanced duties or require more advanced education, that they're still not at their core registered nurses just doesn't make a lot of sense to us".

MI hospitals say they have been left short-staffed after reports some of their Canadian employees have been stopped at the border.

A spokesman for the health system told MedPage Today that officials would not comment further, but added: "Our attorney and human resources department are working with CBP to resolve this issue on behalf of our nurses".

"This issue has been resolved and the nurses can return to the port of entry on Monday", said Porter, a USA lawyer based in Windsor, Ont. who is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

"If this can't get done before this expedited processing goes away, then we may have a situation where we have nurses out of work for up to six months at a time".

  • Joanne Flowers