U.S. Visas for Nurses - U.S. Immigration for Nurses

Nurses generally have two options of entering the United States. With the elimination of the H-1C visa, nurses must either qualify for a TN visa, or H-1B visa. Our immigration law office has over 25 years of experience in immigration law, including H-1B and TN visas. Learn more about the immigration options for nurses below, and contact our law office to learn how we can help you through the visa process.

H-1B Visas for Nurses

In order for a nurse to qualify for an H-1B visa, they must be offered a position in the U.S. that requires the application of a highly specialized body of knowledge. The nurse must also possess a bachelor’s degree of higher or its equivalent. Foreign degrees must be evaluated by an appropriate company to determine if it is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the U.S.

Nurses that will most likely qualify for H-1B visas include anesthetists, critical care nurses, nurse managers, administrators, or supervisors, nurse specialists, and nurse practitioners. Nurses in administrative positions that require a graduate degree such as health administration or nursing administration degrees may be eligible to obtain H-1B visas. If you are an APRN, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, such as a certified nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), and certified nurse-midwives (CNM).

Nurses that are not specialists but can show substantial experience in critical care and perioperative care (peri-op nurses) may also qualify for H-1B visas, although they may have a harder time obtaining the visa because of a lack of a bachelors degree or higher.

In order to qualify for an H-1B visa as a nurse, you must meet the following provide evidence of the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent is normally required for your field of specialization. A bachelor’s degree must be the minimum requirement for the nursing position offered.
  • The nursing position is so complex that it normally requires an individual with a degree
  • The duties and responsibilities of the position offered is so complex that it requires an individual with specialized knowledge and attainment of such specialized knowledge is associated with earning a bachelor’s degree or higher

In addition, H-1B nurses must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have a bachelors degree or higher from an accredited college or university
  • Have a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelors degree or higher
  • Have an unrestricted license, registration, or certification that allows you to practice as a nurse specialist
  • Have the appropriate training, education, or experience in your field of expertise which is essentially equivalent to the completion of a bachelors degree or higher

Please note that nurses that have a bachelor’s degree or higher may have greater success in obtaining an H-1B visa to work as a nurse in the United States. Substantial experience in a specialized nursing position may overcome the absence of a bachelors degree or higher in some applicants. 

TN Visas for Nurses

Nurses may also qualify for TN visas in order to work in the United States. Canadian or Mexican nurses may obtain TN visa if they meet the following requirements:

  • Have a state or provincial nursing license
  • Received a job offer from a U.S. employer
  • Must have a valid VisaScreen certification (you will have received a ICHP VisaScreen certificate
    • VisaScreen Certification is a process that determines whether you meet federal screening requirements. The screening process compares foreign degrees to determine if they are equivalent to U.S. degrees, verifies all professional healthcare licenses that you have ever received , verifies that you are proficient in English (through an English proficiency examination), and for nurses, verifies that you have passed the CGFNS Qualifying Exam , NCLEX-RN, or the SBTPE (State Board Test Pool Examination).
  • In some  cases you may need a temporary registered nursing license in the state in which the position is offered
  • Mexican citizens must complete an English proficiency examination in the NCLEX-RN. Canadian citizens are exempt from this requirement

An immigration lawyer may assist you in preparing your application and determining whether you are truly eligible for a TN visa under the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

Written by:Mark Carmel