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H1B for Nurses – Updated 2014 Memo on Eligibility

USCIS first issued a policy memorandum on the H1B eligibility for Nurses back in 2002. On July 11, 2014 USCIS issued an updated memorandum providing guidance to Immigration Officers/Adjudicators with determining whether an applicant’s qualifications as a Nurse, qualifies the applicant within the H1B specialty occupation requirements.

H1B for Registered Nurses (RN)

All eligible applicants for the H1B visa classification must possess a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in the same field or a related field (this is a minimum requirement). Many job offers for Registered Nurses only require the completion of a two year, associate’s degree. Accordingly, numerous applications for the H1B visa filed for Registered Nurses are denied by USCIS.

H1B for Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Certification as an Advance Practice Registered Nurse, strengthens an applicant’s chances at obtaining a H1B visa. The 2014 USCIS policy memorandum provides direction to officers that certification as APRN can be considered a specialty occupation, for which H1B eligibility is appropriate. Requirements for an APRN are governed by each State’s Medical Board and the requirements set out by the Board for qualified APRN candidates. A few examples of APRN occupations include: certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), certified clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified nurse practitioner (CNP), certified nurse-midwife (CNM).

Increased demand for Bachelor’s Education

The USCIS memorandum demonstrates an awareness of the increased demand for nurses with bachelor’s degrees and other advanced degrees (higher education). Magnet programs and other nursing specialties are given favorable treatment in the memorandum. For example: the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program. Programs such as the ANCC require a minimum education qualification of a bachelor’s degree in nursing or management for individuals seeking employment in the management of nursing units, nursing wards and clinics. Most Magnet programs require these advanced qualifications and have set qualification goals within a short time frame (80% bachelor’s educated nurses by 2020).

Some Examples of Evidence

  • Job Description
  • Beneficiary’s Resume and Degree certifications
  • Specialized training/Certification
  • State Board requirements for the nursing occupation
  • Industry practices

Overview

The new guidelines signify the importance of adjudicating each petition on a case-by-case basis. The memorandum encourages officers to evaluate each case individually; in that certain nursing occupations (APRN, CNM, CRNA, CNS, CNP, Magnet Programs) do qualify as specialty occupations under the H1B visa criteria. Furthermore, the memorandum highlights the increasing trend towards the requirement for higher education in the health-care and nursing industry.

This is a general guide to the directives set out by the USCIS policy memorandum on the H1B visa for Nurses. For case specific advice we recommend you contact our H1B attorneys to discuss the specifics of your case.