Sponsoring Non-immigrant Foreign Nurses
H-1B classification applies to “specialty occupations” that normally require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent for the position. Unfortunately, most registered nurse (RN) positions do not meet this criteria since a Bachelor’s degree is often not required for a standard RN position. However, there are advanced practice or specialty care nurses such as certain Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) that may qualify for H-1B status due to the advanced level of education and training required for certification. Examples of some qualifying APRN positions include the following:
- Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM);
- Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS);
- Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP); and
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
The immigration service has also recognized that certain senior level “nurse managers” may be eligible for H-1B classification.
H-2B classification applies to non-agricultural employment of skilled or unskilled workers that is based on “temporary need.” Nurses seeking entry under this classification are rarely approved as most nursing positions are deemed to constitute permanent employment.
TN classification is governed under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and available for foreign nurses who are citizens of Canada or Mexico. Under NAFTA, a registered nurse is one of the occupations under which a citizen of Canada or Mexico may gain entry to work in the U.S.
Sponsoring Immigrant Foreign Nurses
Applying for lawful permanent resident status for nurses typically requires the following:
Labor Certification: The employer establishes through a labor certification process that there is a shortage of U.S. employees to fill the position and that hiring of the foreign nurse will not adversely affect U.S. working conditions or wages.
Schedule A Labor Certification: Nursing is an occupation listed under “Schedule A” which is a list of occupations that have been pre-certified by the DOL as shortage occupations where U.S. working conditions and wages will not be adversely affected by employment of foreign workers. This classification only applies to “professional nurses.”
Upon approval of the Labor Certification by the Department of Labor, an I-140 Immigrant Worker Petition is filed on behalf of the foreign nurse. In the case of a Schedule A classification, the labor certification process is not required, however, the labor certification form itself must be excecuted and filed with the I-140. Once the I-140 immigrant petition is approved, the foreign nurse can apply for lawful permanent residency once the priority date is current.
*Please note that foreign nurses also need to obtain a Visa Screen certificate confirming the nurse’s education, training, licensing, experience and English competency.