Immigration for Nurses

The New York Times had a front page story today about immigration and nurses in Japan. The article talked about the great need for nurses in Japan, and how the immigration system in Japan makes it virtually impossible for foreign nurses to work there. I thought I was reading about America, however!

Here in the USA, we have had a huge nursing shortage for decades. Like most first-world countries, the USA has allowed foreign nurses to come and work here, but only under certain conditions. In the past 15 years, our Congress has made it virtually impossible to bring in foreign nurses, except under certain complicated circumstances where there is a quota that can take years. So, like Japan, the USA loses out on foreign nurses and they go to more progressive countries like Ireland, England, Australia, Germany, etc.

The article even talked about the requirement for foreign nurses to pass a test in English, and how only 3 people passed last year. While we have a similar test in our country, fortunately a much greater percentage of foreign nurses pass it.

Finally, it was interesting to note in today’s article that, while it seemed to “bash” Japan for its strict immigration system and how it keeps out foreign nurses whose services are in great demand, the same could be said for the USA. And, like Japan, it is the nurses union that is most vociferous in speaking out against allowing foreign nurses to come in, for fear that their salaries will be affected.


Bruce Coane is a leading lawyer with 30 years of experience in the field of immigration law and employment law. He may be reached via email at or his website at Coane and Associates.