Visa Options for Nurses to Immigrate to the US

Visa Options for Nurses to Immigrate to the US

By JR Holguin

Across the country and in New York, hospitals and nursing homes face a nursing shortage, and while there are many efforts to address the deficit, one that could mitigate the situation might be overlooked, migrant nurses.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing details some of the factors that are causing the shortage:

  • The expected demand for R.N. and APRN services needs to be met by enrollment in nursing schools. In 2020, over 80,000 prospective nursing school candidates were denied admission to bachelor and graduate programs because of a lack of skilled professors, clinical study sites, classroom space, and financial restrictions, according to recent research.
  • A sizable portion of the nursing staff is getting close to retirement. Nearly half of all registered nurses are now over 50.
  • As most baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, make up the nation’s older-than-ever population of 65 and older, more nurses are required to care for our aging population. This demography has grown from 41 million in 2011 to 71 million in 2019.
  • Additionally, the pandemic and inadequate staffing increased nurses’ stress levels, adversely affecting their job satisfaction and causing many to quit their careers.

For these reasons, many hospitals are considering employing international nurses. Those who desire to work as nurses in the U.S. must adhere to U.S. federal immigration law and fulfill basic requirements if they intend to apply for any visa.

Applicants need to meet the educational criteria, take and pass an English language proficiency test, and obtain credential evaluation if required. Following that, applicants must pass the National Council Licensing Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX – RN). After Finding a nursing recruiting agency or a US-based firm, apply for an R.N. immigrant visa/green card, then ultimately interview and accept if a position is offered.

The most popular category for employment-based permanent residency is based on getting a green card. This process could take up to one year. The employer must complete a PERM Labor Certification from the Department of Labor, which certifies that no U.S. citizens can fill the position offered. There are not enough Americans working in the “Schedule A” occupations of registered nurses and physical therapists; therefore, hiring a foreign nurse or physical therapist would not displace American employees who are already in demand.

H-1B is another common employment visa. This is a temporary work visa for foreign nationals with a job offer from a U.S. business to work in a “specialty occupation,” such as nursing.

The procedure of immigrating was not designed to be simple. And lawmakers try to make it challenging every year despite the need for immigrants in this country. It is beneficial for those interested in migrating to the U.S. as nurses to hire an immigration expert to assist and make the process more manageable.

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