Some Local Nurses Delayed Entering The U.S To Work In U.S Hospitals.
Officials at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit are scrambling after an unannounced change in the interpretation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has left some Windsor nurses unable to cross the border without lengthy delays.
The change means that Advanced Practice Nurses or specialty nurses no longer qualify under Registered Nurses in the NAFTA.
As a result, several Windsor nurses who work in the U.S have been stopped at the border for hours being questioned on their role as a nurse.
"What has led to so much confusion about this, is that this policy was not articulated in advance nor the rationale behind it articulated so we are really confused about the timing of this," says Principal Attorney of Business Immigration Services Marc Topoleski who spoke on behalf of Henry Ford Health System.
"These are people who are coming to the United States to help American patients get well. These are not terrorists looking to hurt us."
Topoleski says the change in policy has not been released in any written format so they don't understand the rationale behind the policy change.
A local nurse AM800 news spoke to, said she was stopped Monday morning at the border for 4.5-5 hours being questioned by U.S border patrol.
After 14 years of working at Henry Ford, she said it was very uncomfortable.
"Usually I have a really good rapport with the customs officers, I have been going there for so long, they know you by name and this is the first time in all my years that I actually felt not welcomed," she says. She did not want her name released.
She says, as a specialty nurse who does not provide bedside care, she is able to work from home in Windsor-Essex but she now questions her future career as lawyers try to figure out how to resolve the issue.
Topoleski says changes to the visa must be made prior to April 3rd in order to expedite them.
If not, he says nurses may be out of work for up to six months as the application is processed.