Immigration Law Associates
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H-1B options for nurses

Prior to September 30th, 1997, foreign trained nurses were eligible for a special nonimmigrant visa category known as H-1A. There was also an H-1C status until available until December 20th, 2009 that allowed registered nurses to work at hospitals in Health Professional Shortage Areas.

Currently, a professional nurse who wishes to work in the U.S. on an H-1B visa must qualify in the same way as any other H-1B. His or her employer must file a petition proving that the position is a specialty occupation requiring a U.S. Bachelorís degree or equivalent. In addition, to be eligible for an H-1B, a foreign-trained nurse must have a state license and have passed the NCLEX-RN exam.

USCISís policy is that nurses only qualify for an H-1B when:

(1)   a specific nursing position normally requires a Bachelorís degree or equivalent;
(2)   the degree requirement is common across the industry for similar positions;
(3)   the employer normally requires the degree for the position; and
(4)   the nature of the nurseís duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge needed to perform them normally requires a Bachelorís or higher.

However, USCIS has determined that Registered Nurses are not generally eligible for an H-1B. because all 50 states permit a person without a Bachelorís degree to obtain an RN license. On the other hand, nurses in many specialty fields may be eligible for H-1B status because entry into these fields requires a Bachelorís degree. Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nursing Administrators are among the fields that may qualify.

Nurses whose jobs involve caring for patients or supervising those who care for patients must generally show that they have been certified by the CGFNS or equivalent body, for which there are a number of requirements, including English language proficiency.


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