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Without a doubt, H-1B is the visa for nurses in the U.S., that is for foreign-trained nurses. The USCIS has issued specific requirements for nurses who seek to enter the United States on an H-1B visa. The H-1B petition will only be granted if the position is classified as a “specialty occupation.” This visa classification is highly sought after by nurses because it grants medical professionals temporary employment in the United States for three to six years.
A “specialty occupation” is defined as a “theoretical and practical application of the body of highly specialized knowledge.” Nurses are required to have a bachelor’s degree or beyond in the indicated occupation. If the occupation requires a certification or a license, the license/certification must be presented with the petition for a chance at acceptance.
Though a nursing position seems to be a qualifying match for an H-1B visa, a general RN or LPN position does not qualify as a valid position in need of an H-1B for nurses. However, if a state requires at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing to obtain a nursing license, an RN position in that state would generally be considered a specialty occupation.
Learn more about employment-based immigration to the U.S.
Find out how to Get H-1B Visa Without a Degree.
In a 2015 policy memorandum, the USCIS lists some of the documents that a petitioner should submit as evidence:
All must qualify under general position, education, Department of Labor, USCIS, and U.S. employer H-1B requirements.
The position must also require for the nurse to be a certified RN (registered nurse). To become an RN the nurse must have a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with additional education.
Approved H-1B applicants may also come to those who are not APRNs. However, non-APRNs must have successfully passed examinations based on clinical experience, emergency room nursing, operating room, occupation health, rehabilitation nursing, critical care, oncology, and pediatrics.
If you qualify for an H-1B visa for nurses, your petition will likely be entered into the annual H-1B lottery. This lottery was put into effect due to the large number of petitions that are received each year. Overall, there are two major sections of this lottery:
The way that the lottery works means that the first 20,000 positions will be filled by those that have advanced degrees. Any petitions for those with advanced degrees that are not selected in the master’s cap will be re-entered into the regular cap, essentially giving those petitions two chances of being selected.
It is important to note that there is no other way to increase your odds of selection. It doesn’t matter if you are applying for an H-1B for nurses or for an IT manager, the chances are the same. Because the number of petitions is continually increasing, the probability of being randomly selected is decreasing. If you are not selected in the lottery, then you will need to wait until the following year or find an alternative visa.
If your petition is selected, then it will be processed by the USCIS. Of course, there is still a chance that a petition could be selected and then denied. To avoid this, make sure that your case is handled by an expert immigration attorney.
There are only three major categories of H-1B occupations that would be considered cap-exempt:
Also, if you submit a cap-subject petition and it is selected, you will be considered cap-exempt for any subsequent I-129 petitions that you need to have filed for job transfers or visa extensions. However, if you are approved for a cap-exempt position and decide to transfer to a cap-subject one later on, you will need to file a new petition that will be subject to the cap.
The H-1B, while a very popular nonimmigrant visa, is not the only method that nurses can use to work in the U.S. Here are some prominent alternatives:
TN visa: If you are a registered nurse from either Canada or Mexico, the NAFTA treaty visa may be a great way to go. This visa boasts several advantages over the H-1B, such as the fact that there is no annual cap and being able to renew your visa indefinitely.
L-1 visa: This visa is for managers, executives, and specialized employees of multinational companies. This may seem irrelevant at first, but if you are a nursing manager who works for an organization that has a presence in the U.S. and overseas, you may qualify for this visa.
EB-2 green card: If you are interested in living in the U.S. permanently, you can have an employer file an I-140 petition on your behalf. For the EB-2, you will need to have an advanced degree or be able to demonstrate that you have exceptional ability in your field.
EB-3 green card: Also making use of the I-140 petition, the EB-3 is a good option for nurses because it is designed for bachelor’s degree holders as well as skilled and unskilled workers.
If you are looking to get a green card for nurses, you will need to take your priority date into account, which may add a significant amount to your processing time. Speak with your immigration attorney if you would like to make the transition from H-1B to green card status.
The basic fees for an H-1B for nurses are as follows:
Keep in mind that, while this may seem expensive, your employer will be responsible for most of these fees. The only fees that you may need to pay are the DS-160 fee as well as the attorney fee and the premium processing fee. Work alongside your immigration attorney to ensure that all H-1B fees are filed properly.
The requirements for any nurse from India to come and work in the U.S. are relatively the same as for any other foreign-trained nurse. Here is a quick summary of the steps that an Indian-trained nurse might have to take in order to work in the U.S.
As a foreign nurse, you will need a sponsor as per H-1B visa requirements, and in the majority of cases, a hospital will usually be your sponsor. It is relatively easy to look for hospitals that sponsor H-1B visas for nurses because they would actively advertise visa sponsorship in their job ads.
You can approach your sponsor search just like you would approach any other job search. Go to your favorite job search engines and search for nursing opportunities with visa sponsorship. In many instances, employers will specify for what kind of visa they are willing to sponsor a prospective employee. If, however, a job posting does not specify whether they are willing to be a sponsor, then it is worth contacting the company and inquiring whether they are open to such an arrangement.
VisaNation Law Group’s immigration lawyers are able to advise foreign nurse practitioner clients on which work visa or immigration category would be best suited based on the client’s qualifications and position requirements.
We understand that government forms can be challenging to complete. VisaNation Law Group lawyers are skilled in assisting clients with H-1B documentation and any supplementary evidence needed to support their case.
Contact us to find out if you can take advantage of our consultation and have one of the qualified immigration attorneys provide a general overview of your visa options. If you are not eligible for an H1B visa for nurses, there are many other visa options that can be explored. We intend to inform you of your options to ensure that you’re making an informed decision.