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H-1B Visa Focus Shifts to Nursing

The H-1B visa program is commonly associated with foreign workers who are sponsored by United States employers to fill positions in the computer science field. While programmers, developers and engineers make up the bulk of H-1B visa recipients brought to the U.S. to work at Silicon Valley companies, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is conscious that fields other than computing technology could also benefit from an influx of skilled foreign workers.

Nurses will now be able to compete for the coveted H-1B visas, which are currently capped at 65,000 per year plus 20,000 for foreign applicants who also completed a graduate program in the United States. To this effect, the U.S. has been employing a unique immigration strategy to cope with the global financial crisis: Encourage foreigners to get student visas and pay double tuition to earn advanced degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at U.S. universities. A graduate STEM degree from a U.S. institution of higher learning will increase the chances of H-1B visa approval.

The USCIS has decided to add nurses to the list of specialty occupations that qualify under the H-1B program. An official memo issued on July 11, 2014 indicates the three nursing categories sought by this initiative:

  1. Foreign nurses whose bachelor’s degrees are recognized by the Magnet Recognition Program of the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
  2. Foreign-born Certified Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
  3. Foreign nurses who have completed a bachelor’s degree in a field that further specializes them. Such fields include: oncology, pediatrics, emergency care, genetics, and many others.

Experience and ability will be crucial for nurses who choose to apply for the H-1B program. Applicants who already have a nursing license in the U.S., which means that they passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), will have an advantage. Foreign nurses approved to come to the U.S. under the H-1B program will have to follow the steps American nurses already follow to be able to practice. Other factors the USCIS may consider include wages and the description of nursing duties carried out.

For more information about how to file for an H-1B visa, contact the immigration attorneys at Kazmi and Sakata. Our professional attorneys will be able to schedule a free consultation and can also answer any of your questions regarding how to attain and file a specialty occupations visa. Call 858-874-0711 to speak with an immigration lawyer today.

May 2024