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On February 18th, the USCIS issued a memo with further guidance as to if nursing positions would qualify as a specialty occupation and thus qualify for an H-1b visa. The following is a summary of that memo.

One of the main requirements for a position to be eligible for H1B classification is that it can only be filled by someone with, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in either the same field or a related field. Because of this many registered nurse (RN) positions have not qualified for H1B classification because the minimum education required for these positions is often only an associate’s degree and because of this, often the USCIS denies H1B petitions filed on behalf of RNs.

The memorandum acknowledges that there is an increasing preference for nurses who are more highly educated. One example in the memorandum, which appears to be eligible for more favorable treatment in H1B petitions, is any health care organization recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program. These magnet hospitals require at least a bachelor’s degree for any nurse manager of the individual units / wards / clinics, and must have plans to reach a level of 80 percent bachelor’s educated nurses within a set timetable.

Challenges and denials remain a problem even for petitions filed for RN positions in hospitals, clinics, wards, or units where each member of the nursing staff holds at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Although the RNs generally still do not qualify for H1B classification, certified advance practice registered nursing (APRN) positions typically are considered specialty occupations for which H1B classification is appropriate. The exact requirements for APRN certification are determined by each state, as are the exact titles. The memorandum includes a non-exhaustive list of such APRN occupations, including certified nurse-midwife (CNM), certified clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified nurse practitioner (CNP), and certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).
Although not providing any significant new policy on the subject of H1B qualifications for nurses, this latest memorandum should help USCIS officers identify nursing positions that potentially could qualify as specialty occupations.