The medical profession employs a considerable number of the H-1B visa holders admitted to the U.S. There are more than 10,000 doctors now working across the nation on H-1B visas. Although qualified doctors find it relatively easy to fulfill the requirements of an H-1B visa, the situation is different for nurses.

This can present extra hurdles nurses need to overcome in order to receive an H-1B visa. The situation has become even more complicated as Congress maintains the current general 65,000 annual visa cap as demand increases. In each of the last five years, the visa cap has been reached within a week of the start of the application period.

H-1B Eligibility Requirements For Nurses

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued guidance regarding H-1B visas with regard to nurses. The eligibility requirements state that a petition will only be granted if the position is considered to be a specialty occupation.

In practice, this means nurses must have at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify. This means general RN or LPN positions will not qualify for an H-1B visa, in most circumstances.

There are exceptions to this because some states require a bachelor’s degree in order to qualify for a nursing license. If an applicant intends to work in a state where this is required, they will qualify for an H-1B visa.

Education And Qualifications

All nurses applying for an H-1B visa must have an education level of at least a bachelor’s degree. The priority of acceptance document published by the USCIS in relation to nurses specifies that nurses are more likely to be accepted if they have achieved a wide range of qualifications.

For example, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are usually the first to be accepted. APRNs are required to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as a minimum. Nurse managers and supervisory nurses usually possess graduate degrees in healthcare administration or nursing.

Licenses And Certifications

A nursing license must be obtained by completing a recognized nursing program. All applicants must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Specialist nurses are urged to supply evidence of advanced certifications and qualifications. Foreign equivalents are accepted as part of the visa process.

Certifications and licenses from nursing fields like clinical nurse specialists, anesthetists, midwives, and certified nurse practitioners should be included as part of any application. Non-APRNs must have passed examinations in a specialized field like oncology, rehabilitation nursing, and emergency room nursing. Again, foreign qualifications are recognized.

Special Duties And Responsibilities

Nurses with special duties or responsibilities have a higher chance of being granted an H-1B visa. The position must be so specialized that a bachelor’s degree or higher is required to carry out those duties. Examples of nurses with specialized responsibilities include addiction nurses, critical care nurses, pediatric nurses, and rehabilitation nurses.

The H-1B Visa Process For Nurses

The H-1B visa process for nurses is extremely competitive. The USCIS has released a list of different documents that should be submitted as part of a standard H-1B visa petition. The employer must provide detailed information on their business and the industry practices they employ. A document detailing the responsibilities of the foreign applicant should also be provided.

Proof of advanced certification requirements, ANCC Magnet Recognized status, previous training, and prior clinical experience should be included. Due to the amount of competition between applicants, a petition is most likely to be placed in the H-1B lottery.

There are 20,000 petitions accepted for those with advanced degrees, known as the master’s cap and the regular cap of 65,000. The lottery is for all kinds of petitions, not just for qualified nurses.

Nurses with advanced degrees, however, have two chances for their petition to be selected. If not selected for the master’s cap, nurses with advanced degrees will be re-entered into the general lottery. Note that being selected does not guarantee an H-1B visa. It merely guarantees that the visa petition will be heard. Applicants may still see their H-1B visa request rejected.

Alternatives For Nurses That Do Not Qualify

Nurses who do not qualify may consider an alternate type of visa. The TN visa applies to applicants from Canada and Mexico as part of the NAFTA agreement. The TN visa is considered to have more advantages than the H-1B because there is no cap, and TN visas can be renewed indefinitely.

Nursing managers may apply for the L-1 visa, as this is aimed at managers who work for multinational companies. There are also the EB-2 and EB-3 green cards. The former is aimed at nurses with advanced degrees, whereas the latter is aimed at nurses who hold bachelor’s degrees. The EB-3 green card is also available to unskilled workers, so competition can be fierce.

Speak With A Fairfax Immigration Attorney Today

Applying for an H-1B visa is complex and difficult. With so many rules and requirements, there are many pitfalls that could mean waiting another year to apply again. All nurses applying for this visa need to have the support of a qualified immigration attorney to increase their chances of the USCIS selecting their petition. If you are a qualified nurse who wants to live and work in the U.S., call the immigration attorneys at Pride Immigration.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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