US Visas for Nurses

As with many medical professions, there is a substantial demand for registered nurses in the United States. Many employers look to foreign-trained nurses to fill this demand. There are several potential US work visa options for foreign nurses. These include TN visa status for citizens of Mexican and Canadian, E-3 visas for citizens of Australia, and H-1B visas for other foreign nationals. We cover these visa options and US permanent residence for Nurses here.

TN Visa Status for Canadian and Mexican Nurses

TN Visa status is available for both Canadian and Mexican nurses as a part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  TN Visa status is only available to Canadian and Mexican citizens.  Canadian and Mexican permanent residents do not qualify.

How do I qualify for TN Visa status as a Registered Nurse (RN)?

H-1B Visa status for Foreign Nurses

H-1B Visa status is another available option for foreign nurses. However,  USCICS applies strict guidelines on which nurses can qualify for an H-1B Visa. This visa classification is more challenging to obtain because H-1B visas require a bachelor’s degree as the minimum qualification for entering the field. As such, the USCIS takes the position that a bachelor’s degree is not required to be a registered nurse. However, some nursing positions qualify as specialty occupations and can qualify for H-1B visa status.

How do I get an H-1B visa as a Nurse?

E-3 Visa Status for Australian Nurses

E-3 visa status is available to only Australian citizens. Australian permanent residents do not qualify. The same restrictions apply to the E-3 visa as the H-1B visa. You must be able to prove the position is a specialty occupation requiring at least a bachelor’s degree. The E-3 visa holder may stay and work in the United States initially for two years. The visa can be extended by two-year increments and, apart from some exceptions, can be renewed indefinitely.

How do I get an E-3 visa as a Nurse?

US Permanent Residence (Green Card) for Nurses

The nursing profession is considered by the US Department of Labor (DOL) as an area of a chronic shortage of workers. Foreign nurses who have passed the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools Examination (CGFNSE) or have an unrestricted license to practice nursing in the state in which they intend to work are eligible to seek a “Schedule A” labor certification and US permanent residence (Green Card). Schedule A professions enjoy pre-certification with the DOL streamlining the green card process.

Is my profession considered “Schedule A” for a Green Card?

The H-1C Visa

The H-1C visa was an option for foreign nurses from 1999 until 2009. The H-1C visa classification expired on December 20, 2009, and is no longer available.

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