Immigration Options for Nurses 

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Immigration Options for Nurses 

The U.S. has continued to face a shortage of medical workers, and in response, federal law has given preference to certain classes of immigrants, including non-citizen nurses. If you are a nurse seeking employment in the U.S., you have several possible pathways to becoming a legal resident. 

Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC offers professional legal guidance for health professionals interested in obtaining U.S. residency or citizenship. Contact our immigration attorneys to review your options. 

Working in the U.S. Temporarily As a Non-Citizen Nurse

Non-citizen nursing professionals who want to work in the U.S temporarily may obtain an H-1B visa. Foreign nationals who have been offered to work a “specialty occupation” by a U.S. company frequently choose an H-1B visa as a temporary work permit. In order to receive an H-1B visa, you will need to file an I-129 petition with USCIS. The petition is approved only if the prospective employer shows that your position would be categorized as a specialty occupation. The position must require an educational background, such as a bachelor’s or its equivalent, or involves duties that require the knowledge obtained through a higher degree. 

Obtaining an H-1B visa is easier with an attorney. Most states require registered nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree, so therefore individuals may have improved chances of success. Our lawyers can help you better understand your specific situation. 

Can Non-Citizen Nurses Obtain A Green Card?

Occasionally, an employer may agree to sponsor you for a green card. Applicants must obtain a PERM labor certification to receive an employment-based green card, which is completed by their employer. This process is often easier for nurses since nursing is classified as a “Schedule A” position. 

The U.S. Department of Labor identified several occupations that are insufficiently supported by American workers. These positions are classified as “Schedule A” occupations, which are given focused attention by immigration law. Relevant nursing positions include:

  • Professional nurses who hold a license and specific educational requirements
  • Physical therapists who are eligible to take the licensure test for physical therapists in the state where they plan to practice in the U.S. 
  • Foreign nationals with the qualifications to work in one of the shortage occupations listed as a Schedule A occupation

Certifications for a Green Card or Visa Application

Whether a non-citizen nurse is coming to work in the U.S. with a green card or an H-1B visa, the individual must demonstrate to the USCIS that they have all necessary certifications to work in the medical field. To do so, the non-citizen nurse must receive certification from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). After reviewing the nurse’s educational credentials, they will issue a statement that confirms the following provisions: 

  • Holds an unrestricted license in the U.S. state where they will work, and the state has authenticated the nurse’s foreign license.
  • Has passed the NCLEX, or the nursing licensing exam in the U.S. 
  • Graduated from a nursing program taught in the English language.
  • The program took place in a country accepted by the U.S. for medical training. 
  • The nursing program had started on or before November 12, 1999.

Every green card or visa petition filed by the nurse’s U.S. employer must contain the CGNFS certificate. If you need assistance, contact an attorney. 

Discuss Your Options With a Knowledgeable Attorney

If you are a nursing professional seeking employment in the U.S. on a temporary or long-term basis, legal guidance is an invaluable resource. The immigration process involves many nuanced steps, and applications must be diligently completed to minimize processing time. Contact Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC for a consultation with our immigration attorneys to explore your options.