H-1 for Nurses




    An individual is eligible for H-1B nonimmigrant classification if the beneficiary is in a specialty occupation.  A specialty occupation means an occupation that requires :
    •    theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge; and
    •    attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement for entry into a specialty occupation in the US.
    In order to meet the requirement for a specialty occupation the following is required :

    a.    Full State licensure to practice in the occupation, if such licence is required to practice in the occupation;

    b.    Completion of a related degree for the occupation; or

    c.    Experience in the specialty equivalent to the completion of such degree, and
           Recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions relating to the specialty.

    The following documents may be submitted to prove that the beneficiary has the required degree or its equivalent :

    a.    A copy of the alien’s US bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the specialty occupation;

    b.    A copy of the foreign degree determined to be equivalent to the US degree; or

    c.    Evidence that the alien’s education and experience are equivalent to the required US degree.

1.    Requirements for Registered Nurses    

    The following requirements must be met in order to be licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN):

    •    The individual must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam.
    The minimum requirement for entry into the field of nursing as a registered nurse is a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN.).  This means that a typical RN would not likely be eligible for H-1B classification.  Accordingly, RN positions do not generally require a bachelor’s or higher degree.

    A registered nurse will be eligible for H-1B classification if the petitioner can demonstrate that the position, and the individual alien, meet the requirements for establishing that the position is H-1B, by showing that:

    a.    A bachelor’s or higher degree (or its equivalent) is normally the minimum requirement for entry into the position;

    b.    The degree requirement is common to the industry for parallel nursing positions (i.e. employers in the same industry require their employees to hold the degree when they are employed in the same or a similar position):

    c.    The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or

    d.    The nature of the position’s 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 (or its equivalent).

2.    Advanced Practice Nurses

    Positions that require nurses who are certified Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) will generally be H-1B equivalent, due to the advanced level of education and training required for certification.

    If the APRN position requires that the employee be certified in that practice, the nurse will be required to possess an RN, at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and some additional graduate level education.

    The following advanced practice occupations will generally be H-1B equivalent if the position requires, and the alien has obtained, advanced practice certification :

    •    Clinical Nurse Specialists (CSN): Acute Care, 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 (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)
3.    Nurses in Administrative Positions

    Certain other nursing occupations, such as an upper-level “nurse manager” in a hospital administration position may be H-1B equivalent.

    Nursing Services Administrators are generally supervisory-level nurses who hold an RN certification, and a graduate degree in nursing or health administration.

4.    State Requirements

    Even though a general RN position does not qualify as H-1B, the National Council on State Boards of Nurses (NCSBN) has confirmed that the state of North Dakota is the only state that requires an individual to possess a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) in order to be licensed as an RN in that state.  This applies to individuals who enrolled in a nursing program after January 1, 1987. If a BSN is a prerequisite, the position will qualify as an H-1B position.




The H-1C classification (Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas) expired on December 20, 2009.  For more information, click here.  


Nonimmigrant Visas


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