USCIS relaxes rules for foreign nurses to work on H1B visas.
By The American Bazaar Staff
WASHINGTON, DC: The already crowded H1B visa category, which is limited to 65,000 in number per year for foreign workers, apart from 20,000 additional visas for graduates of educational institutions in the US, and is dependent on a lottery system to determine who will get the visa or not annually, is going to have more competition from next year onwards: more foreign nurses who wish to work in the US can also now be sponsored under it.
A recent memo by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now describes how nurses, who were not eligible because of past rules, now qualify to compete for the highly competitive visas.
As per earlier rules, most nurses were not qualified for the H1B visa because their job requirements doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level position and thus were out of a ‘specialty’ occupation. Most nurses, if given employment in the US, came to the country with a Green Card, which was also granted to immediate family members. The waiting time, however, for this has been increasing, leading to shortage in the industry and frustration for those who have been granted employment but have to wait for paperwork to come through along with permanent residency.
The new USCIS policy memorandum last month now opens the door for nurses to compete for the H1B visas and if they get it, can join employment sooner, though their dependents would have to be on H4 visas. They can then pursue their Green Cards while at employment.
USVIS has now made three general groups of nursing jobs in the US eligible for H1B visa position:
- Nursing positions at healthcare organizations, under the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program. An H1B sponsor with ANCC Magnet status indicates that its nursing workforce has attained high standards of nursing practice and possesses at least a bachelor’s degree.
- Nurses performing specialized and complex duties usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s degree, such as: addiction nurses, cardiovascular nurses, critical care nurses; emergency room nurses; genetics nurses; neonatology nurses; nephrology nurses; oncology nurses; pediatric nurses; peri-operative nurses; or rehabilitation nurses.
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) is considered a specialty occupation “due to the advanced level of education and training required for certification.” Some APRN positions include the Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM); the Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS); Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP); and the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
Requirements also state that all nurses in the US must possess a nursing license, must complete an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).