Is an H-1B or Eb-3 Visa Better for a Nurse Immigrating to Arizona?
You may be aware of the nursing shortage in the US, and you know how patient care suffers from understaffing. It would be professionally gratifying to help with the demand. Plus, the Grand Canyon State is one of the most beautiful places to live and work in the US. At more than 300 days of sun per year, you can enjoy outdoor activities in the desert, mountains, and plateaus in the warm climate.
Whatever your reason for seeking to immigrate as a nurse, you know that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has established strict requirements. Fortunately, there are multiple options available. The challenge is finding the right fit, and the most important factors are your eligibility and goals for US immigration. Either an H-1B or EB-3 visa might be better for nurses immigrating to Arizona, and there may be additional opportunities for certain nursing professionals.
Considering these complications, it is wise to get help from an Arizona immigration attorney when you start looking into work visas for nurses. You can also review some background on H-1B and EB-3 visas to better understand how they function.
Initial Questions to Ask Yourself
Immigrating to Arizona is a major transition for you, your family, and your livelihood, and you would not make such important decisions lightly. Therefore, it is worthwhile to ask yourself some key questions and reflect on the answers.
- What are your intentions or future plans for immigration? If you seek to work as a nurse temporarily, you would take a different route compared to someone looking for a permanent arrangement. Some nurses may want to go forward with becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), a green card holder who can live and work permanently in the US. You can even apply for citizenship within three to five years as an LPR.
- Do you qualify? There are some basic eligibility rules that all applicants must meet, and an important one is grounds for inadmissibility. USCIS may disqualify individuals on the basis of health issues, national security concerns, and criminal activity. Nurses will have additional educational and licensing requirements.
- Are you planning to bring a spouse or children with you to the US? Qualifying family members may be able to join you by going through the required procedures to gain their own immigration status.
- Where do you live? Nurses from across the globe may be eligible for an EB-3 or H-1B visa, but you may take advantage of special treatment if you are from Mexico or Canada.
Understanding EB-3 Nurse Visas in Arizona
An EB-3 is an immigrant employment visa, for individuals who plan on taking additional steps with the immigration process. This visa allows you to work as a nurse in the US and become an LPR. You are eligible if you have two years of education from an accredited institution, a license to practice nursing in your home nation, and at least two years of professional nursing experience.
The process to obtain an EB-3 nurse’s visa works as follows:
- Your employer needs to show US officials that hiring you will not have an effect on wages for Americans, which is accomplished by applying for and obtaining a Labor Certification. The process can take time, but getting approval is faster and easier when the candidate is a nurse, due to the high demand for nurses in the US.
- Upon receiving Labor Certification, your prospective employer must file Form I-140 – Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. With this petition, the employer provides information on how you meet the requirements for the job. You are also designated as an EB-3 preference immigrant, and your employer demonstrates the financial ability to pay you.
- After getting approval on Form I-140, you will receive notice that it is time to apply for your EB-3 visa. You will use DS-260 – Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application for consular processing in your home country. If you are in the US on another lawful immigration status, you prepare Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
The EB-3 may be a suitable fit if you are seeking to remain permanently in the US and obtain a green card. The downside is that there can be a wait. For all EB categories, USCIS sets aside 140,000 visas every year; EB-3 applicants receive approximately 40,000. Your application could be pushed back until a visa is available.
Overview of H-1B Visas for Nurses in Arizona
If your goal is to work in the US for a designated amount of time and you are a nurse in a specialty occupation, you might go with an H-1B visa. This is a non-immigrant visa, not a green card. However, H-1B offers the unique option of being a dual-intent visa. You can apply to become an LPR as an H-1B holder.
To qualify, you must have a four-year degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution. If you are an RN, you may still be eligible if you have two years of additional education in a specialty medicine area. There are also licensing requirements, and you must have a valid job offer from a US employer.
If you qualify, you can expect the following steps to obtain an H-1B visa:
- Instead of a certification, your sponsoring employer files a Labor Condition Application. The company must state that it will pay a prevailing wage and that hiring you will not impact other employees.
- After getting labor approval, your employer must prepare and submit Form I-129 – Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers. USCIS reviews the petition to assess your eligibility for a visa and qualifications for the job in a specialty occupation.
- You will receive a notification when the Form I-129 is approved, at which point you will need to apply for the H-1B visa. If you are outside the US, you will use Form DS-160 – Nonimmigrant Visa Application for consular processing
An important benefit of H-1B is the ability to apply for your green card under the dual-intent visa rules. However, H-1B visas are issued on a limited basis, and demand for this type is high. There can be significant delays in waiting for a visa to become available. Though figures are subject to change, USCIS offers 65,000 H-1Bs every year.
TN-NAFTA Visas for Nurses from Canada and Mexico
Though H-1B and EB-3 are both options that can help you achieve your goals with immigration, you also have another opportunity if you are from Canada or Mexico. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), now known as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), creates a special class of work visas for certain occupations. You may qualify if:
- You are a citizen of one of the NAFTA nations. Permanent residents of those countries are not eligible.
- Your profession is on the list of NAFTA occupations, which includes nurses.
- An employer has made you a job offer in the US, either on a full- or part-time basis. You are not eligible for a TN visa if you are self-employed.
- Your qualifications match the job requirements established by your employer.
These are the general eligibility rules, but keep in mind that the process for getting a TN visa is different depending on your home nation.
- Nurses from Canada have two options to enter the US under a TN visa. You can make advance arrangements, in which case you will have your prospective employer file Form I-129. Then, you take your documents and passport to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry. Alternatively, you can arrive at CBP and show your documents, including a letter from your employer that makes the job offer.
- As a nurse from Mexico, you must get your TN visa through consular processing. You complete the DS-160 and await approval, and then you present your documents and passport to CBP at the port of entry.
What Arizona Immigration Attorneys Do
The above descriptions should convince you that legal representation is critical, but you may not realize details about what your immigration lawyer will do to support you. A key point will be helping you understand your options so that you can decide whether an H-1B or EB-3 work visa will be suitable for your situation. Being from Mexico or Canada opens the door to a TN visa, adding another option to consider.
Plus, an Arizona work visas lawyer will also take on the essential tasks, such as:
- Gathering and organizing the evidence you need to include with your visa application;
- Supplying your sponsoring employer with the necessary documents to complete the Form I-140 or I-129 petitions for your visa;
- Assisting with the DS-160 or DS-260 as necessary for your nurse’s work visa;
- Coaching you on the interview you must attend with immigration officials;
- Helping prepare a packet of documents to get your TN visa at the CBP port of entry, to ensure you have all you need to be admitted from Canada; and,
- Assisting nurses who intend to move forward with a green card and US citizenship.
Your Arizona Immigration Lawyer Will Help with Visas for Nurses
If you are a nurse looking to work in the US, H-1B, EB-3, and TN visas are all options to consider depending on your immigration objectives. At Diamondback Legal, our team is prepared to help you make informed choices, and we will assist with the necessary paperwork. To set up a consultation with a skilled immigration attorney, please contact our Phoenix offices at (602) 755-3199 or visit us online.
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