USCIS Changes Position on Nurses and H-1Bs

USCIS just issued a new menurse-shortage-immigrationmo that opens up the possibility for more Nurses to qualify for H-1B status.  The memo, dated July 11, was issued but he Office of Policy and Strategy, Business and Foreign Workers Division, Office of the Director, USCIS.

Prior to this memo, USCIS view was that RN positions simply could not qualify for an H-1B as a bachelor’s degree was not normally required as the minimum entry into those particular positions.  While not couched as a blanket rule, that was effectively how it was treated.  USCIS, however, did concede that some advance practice registered nurses may qualify for the H-1B visa.

The new memo significantly changes this position.  While USCIS still feels that Registered Nurses, in general, do not qualify for the H-1B visa, they are now open to the fact that, in many cases, they MAY qualify, if sufficient evidence is provided.  USCIS pointed out that Bachelor’s degrees are becoming more prevalent for RN’s and are being required more frequently.  USCIS particularly pointed to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program.  This program requires of the organizations that are certified through it (and it is a mark of excellence for the organization) that 100% of RN Managers working at the organization and that at least 80% or ALL RN’s have bachelor’s by 2020 at the latest.  The organizations are also encouraged to move towards that goal as quickly as possible.  They also pointed to specialty RN Positions, such as rehabilitative nurses, pediatric nurses, peri-operative nurses, emergency room nurses as possible types of RNs that may require bachelors degree because of the complexity of the positions, etc. and, therefore, could qualify for the H-1B visa as well.

Lastly, USCIS looked at Advance Practice Registered Nurses and affirmed that these positions will usually be found to qualify for H-1Bs as long as it can be shown that a bachelors in a particular field is required.  USCIS also recognized that there may be many names for these type of nurses depending on the state, such as Certified Nurse-Midwife, Certified Nurse Practitioner, Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist, etc.

The factors laid out by USCIS to look at in all of the above cases (RN’s and Advance Practice Registered Nurses) includes:  a detailed description of the duties to be performed, and advanced certification requirements, clinical experience requirements, training in the specialty requirements, nature of the petitioners business, industry practices, ANCC Magnet Recognition status and the wage rate of the position relative to otherwise within the occupation, among others.

This will allow at least some hospitals and organizations to more easily bring in needed nurses on H-1Bs and ease the nursing shortage, in our view.  If you feel that you can benefit from this new standard please contact us or your attorney to discuss the matter.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.


Author: Adam Frank, Esquire

I am an immigration attorney with over 20 years of experience. I was graduated from Brandeis University undergrad in 1990 and then spent a year traveling around Central America. In 1991 I began attending the University of Baltimore School of Law and was graduated in 1994. I began working in Immigration Law in 1998 when I joined a small law firm and, in 2000 opened my own firm with my law partner Ed Leavy. Sadly, Ed passed away in 2011. I am still a partner in my own firm with my current partner Brendan Delaney. Our firm is Frank & Delaney Immigration Law, LLC.

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