Firstly, there is the H-1B non-immigrant visa which is available to nursing positions that require a degree. The H-1B process runs on a cyclical basis and there is a quota attached to this visa category.
Secondly, nurses may apply for permanent residence (green card) through the EB-3 Visa, which are available to so-called ‘skilled workers’ who can demonstrate at least two years job experience, education or training, or individuals with a university degree and one year experience.
THE H1-B VISA
- A bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position; the required degree must be related to the position to be filled.
- The degree requirement is common to the industry, or in the alternative, the position is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree.
- The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position.
- The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.
It may be difficult to obtain a H1-B as a registered nurse (RN), because this position does not require a degree, however, if an employer is hiring the individual as a ‘clinical nurse’ or ‘nurse practitioner’, almost every state requires at least a bachelor's degree for these positions, thus the individual would qualify for a H1-B.
The following are some advanced nursing positions that may be acceptable:
- Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS): - Acute Care, Adult, Critical Care, Gerontological, Family, Hospice and Palliative Care, Neonatal, Pediatric, Psychiatric and Mental Health-Adult, Psychiatric and Mental Health-Child, and Women’s Health.
- Nurse Practitioner Category (NP): - Acute Care, Adult, Family, Gerontological, Pediatric, Psychiatric & Mental Health, Neonatal, and Women’s Health.
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA); and,
- Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM).
THE EB-3 VISA
The following occupations comprise Schedule A:
- Group I – physical therapists and professional nurses; and
- Group II – immigrants of exceptional ability in the sciences or arts, including college and university teachers, and immigrants of exceptional ability in the performing arts.
A foreign nurse can obtain a visa under Schedule A, if the Applicant has:
- A nursing diploma, degree or license from their home country; or,
- An unrestricted license in a state of intended employment; or,
- A certification that they have passed either
- the the ‘National Council Licensure Examination’ (NCLEX-RN/PN) (But is unable to obtain a license for the lack of a social security number), or,
- the exam given by the ‘Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools’ (CGFNS), and,
The physical therapist should hold:
- A bachelor’s degree in physical therapy or the equivalent; and
- A license to practice in his or her state of intended employment; or,
- A letter from a state licensing agency stating that the Applicant is qualified to take the state licensing examination.
It should be noted that the majority of physical therapist positions require graduate school, and the U.S. government’s website, ‘O*NET’ classifies physical therapists as a ‘job zone five’ with ‘extensive preparation needed.’ Also, depending on the state where the physical therapist will practice, these occupations may require a master’s degree, and some require an Applicant to hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). It follows that physical therapist positions can be properly considered under the advanced degree professional classification, if the employer can show that the position requires an advanced degree.