I'm neither a lawyer nor an expert on legal matters, but here's my personal take on HR 1358 or the Nursing Relief Act. This is just for discussion's sake and this is by no means an expert interpretation of the bill. Please correct any inacuracies that you may find.
The new bill, which was introduced on March 6 in the US Congress, seeks to create a Nonimmigrant Category for Nurses in the US Immigration and Nationality Act. Under this new category, nurses can apply for nonimmigrant status, through a lawful US employer, and be able to work in the US for an initial period of 3 years and which can be extended to a maximum of 6 years. However, this maximum stay rule would not apply to a nurse, under a nonimmigrant status, who already has either an immigrant petition or adjustment of status filed for him not less than 365 days or 1 year before he reaches the 6 years maximum stay.
The bill also stipulates that aliens (not the Martian kind!) already in the US can have the Nonimmigrant status filed on their behalf by an employer, and thus extend their stay in the country. Also, those who go through this process may switch employers (provided they have no contractual obligation, of course), just as long as their new employers file for the same Nonimmigrant petition for them.
With regard to spouses of the Nonimmigrant nurse, they may be given work permits as well.
HR 1358 seeks to allocate up 50,000 slots for alien nurses, but this may be increased to 120% of the allocation (please do the math) if the slots were all used up for a given fiscal year. If the allocated number was not consumed within the specified period, then the allocations would remain at the 50,000 level for the succeeding year. Unlike other visa allocations, the 50,000 would only be given to the principal alien and not to their spouses or children. So, regardless of the number of family members a nurse would be bringing along with him, only one allocated number would be consumed for his application. Out of recaptured 90,000 or 50,000 Schedule A visas last year, only 15,000 was reportedly given to actual nurses. The rest of the allocation was consumed by their accompanying family members.
Let's not forget, of course, that the HR 1358 has only been introduced and there is NO ASSURANCE this or other nursing-related bills would get passed into law. Let's all just hope for the best.