Just as a shortage of IT professionals in the United States precipitates the need for employers to seek skilled workers from other countries to fill job positions in the science and technology sector via the H1-B visa process, hospitals and doctors must do the same for nurses. Despite recent increases in the number of students seeking nursing degrees in American colleges and universities, the demand outstrips the current supply of trained nurses here.
Accordingly, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) provides for foreign nurses to apply for immigrant visas. The process of applying for such visas bears some similarity to what is required for other employers to hire immigrants to work temporarily. First, an employer must file a Form 9089 (labor certification with the Department of Labor (DOL)) to test the market in the given area. The employer will not be allowed to offer a position to a foreign nurse if such job can be filled by an American nurse.
Second, upon certification from the Department of Labor, the employer must then file an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) with USCIS. The employer must prove that the wage that is offered is consistent with prevailing wages in the area the job position is located.
Third, upon approval of the immigrant visa petition, the alien is then eligible to file for an immigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy if the alien is abroad. If the alien is physically present in the United States and eligible, the alien may file an application for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
In addition to the forms demanded by the DOL and USCIS, a nursing visa applicant must also produce the following proof that he or she has the appropriate credentials:
Nursing diploma or degree with education evaluation
A full unrestricted permanent license to practice nursing in the state of intended employment
CGFNS certificate issued by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools or evidence that the alien has passed the National Council of State Boards of Nursing
As the full process can take more than a couple years from start to finish, health care institutions should expeditiously seek to begin the process once it determines there are a shortage of properly-trained nurses available from the pool of American nurses.
The Shulman Law Group, LLC has successfully handled many visa petitions for nurses. Its comprehensive experience in the field enables the firm’s attorneys and professional staff to advocate for its client’s position with a considered view as to the subjective ambiguities that, in some areas, can make differing approaches of Immigration Service Officers uncertain. What distinguishes our firm from others is the commitment to present all relevant descriptive and contextual information about a certain position so that the chances for approval of a visa are maximized.