What Are the Requirements or Certifications That I Need to Qualify for a Work Visa as a Nurse?
There are multiple options available under rules set by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The key is determining eligibility, both for purposes of immigration and for your role in the nursing profession.
Besides qualifying for a green card, there are specific requirements and certifications you will need to obtain a work visa as a nurse. The credentials you hold as a nursing practitioner are important, but they may only be valid in your home nation. USCIS requires additional information to ensure that you not only meet the requirements for immigration but also the criteria to provide quality patient care.
If you are looking into options for a work visa as a nurse, it can be confusing to understand the licensing or certifications that apply to you. By working with an Arizona immigration attorney, you get the credentials right and avoid mistakes with the process. Some background on requirements for nurse’s visas will help you understand the basics.
General Requirements for Nurse Work Visa in Arizona
The specific qualifications will vary according to the visa that you seek, but you will need to meet the basic immigration criteria. USCIS has rules about criminal activity, prior violations of immigration laws, and removals. However, there are additional factors to keep in mind if you will be applying for a Nurse work visa.
- There are different rules and processes based upon where you are a national, and citizens of certain countries get preferential treatment. The US has entered into international agreements that benefit nurses from Canada and Mexico.
- Credentials from approved organizations are required, such as certification from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).
- Another way to qualify for purposes of certification is to earn a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN).
- In almost all cases, you will need to have a job secured in your nursing field before you can get a nurse’s visa. Your employer may meet this requirement by filing a petition prior to you applying for your visa.
- Because of the requirement to work with an employer for many of the requirements, you will need to coordinate timing. Your prospective employer will need to obtain certifications and file petitions on your behalf.
Obtaining an EB-3 Visa in Arizona
If you are seeking to obtain immigration status to live and work permanently in the US, the EB-3 may be appropriate for you. This category of employment-based visas includes nursing professionals.
Filing Requirements: You must meet the essential criteria for immigration purposes, some of which relate to involvement in criminal activity or other misconduct. As far as your nursing credentials, the most critical is obtaining official certification from bodies that are acceptable to USCIS. You can meet this requirement if you are certified by the CGFNS or earned a passing score on the NCLEX-RN.
Steps to Get Your EB-3 Visa: If you meet the requirements to qualify, the necessary tasks for a nurse’s green card include:
- Your potential employer sends paperwork to USCIS stating the reason why you do not need full Labor Certification. Because nurses are on Schedule A, you avoid this time-consuming process and can move forward with unofficial labor certification.
- As a sponsor, your employer submits Form I-140 – Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This document shows USCIS that you qualify for an EB-3 visa.
- The next steps are in your court, and you will file documents based on where you currently reside. If you are lawfully in the US, use Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Those who are outside the country will submit Form DS-260 – Immigrant Visa Application and proceed through consular processing.
What You Gain with an EB-3 Visa: You can live and work permanently in the US, in a profession you enjoy. Plus, you can bring a spouse and children under age 21 with you, where they may qualify to work or go to school. With an EB-3, you could also apply for full US citizenship if you choose.
Requirements for an H-1B Nurse Work Visa in Arizona
This visa is a nonimmigrant visa for those seeking to work in the US for a temporary period. Only those in specialty occupations qualify for an H-1B Nurse work visa, but nurses with advanced degrees may be eligible.
Criteria to Qualify for H-1B: The CGFNS certification or NCLEX-RN test results will always be important, but the additional requirements for H-1B relate to your education. You must have a bachelor’s or higher degree, which typically means four years. A registered nurse or other practitioners with two-year degrees will usually not qualify.
How to Apply: There are certain work visas with caps under USCIS rules, and H-1B is one of them. This means you need to register online for a lottery and, once you are selected, you can proceed to the next steps.
- Your potential employer must get a Labor Certification, a requirement that is intended to protect US jobs and wages from an influx of foreign workers.
- Your employer needs to submit Form I-129 – Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers to USCIS. The form includes details about how you qualify for a work visa, along with supporting documentation.
- If you are outside the US when applying for H-1B, you will need to file DS-160 – Nonimmigrant Visa Application. This is the form for consular processing, which you complete in your home nation.
- USCIS will schedule an interview to ask questions about you, your job, the prospective employer, and many other details.
Benefits of Obtaining an H-1B Visa: This visa is issued for three years, but it can be extended up to six years by filing an updated Form I-129. Another advantage is applying for a green card once you have an H-1B. If you want to bring a spouse or unmarried children under age 21, you can do so with this visa.
Canada and Mexico TN Work Visas for Nurses
NAFTA created a special category of work visas for member nations, termed TN for Trade NAFTA. Those who work in any of the listed NAFTA occupations may qualify for a TN work visa, including nurses.
Requirements for a TN Nurse Visa: Once again, you will need CGFNS certification or NCLEX-RN test results for this work visa. In addition, you must be a national of Canada or Mexico, and permanent residents of those countries do not qualify. Your TN application must include information on the relevant NAFTA occupation and how you meet those qualifications.
What TN Status Means: You do not gain any immigration status with this visa, but you can continue to work under the nonimmigrant status through renewals. Keep in mind that you can only work for the employer that was indicated on your application. In addition, your spouse and children under age 21 can come to the US through your TN visa.
How the Process Works: The steps are different based on your home country so you can expect the following:
- Nurses from Canada have two options, so you could apply for TN status as you enter at a US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) port-of-entry. You will need your passport and proof that you have a full-time or part-time job waiting for you in the US. Alternatively, you could have a potential employer file Form I-190 to get a TN visa.
- If you are from Mexico, you need to file the DS-160 nonimmigrant visa form to enter the US on a TN visa. You go through consular processing, including an interview at your local embassy or consulate. Once you are approved for a TN nurse’s work visa, you can enter the US through a CBP port-of-entry to begin employment.
Legal Help with Nurse’s Green Cards in Arizona
As you can see from the above descriptions, one of the most important considerations with a nurse’s visa is figuring out your options. On the one hand, you need to know your qualifications for these work visas. At the same time, you need to realize the pros and cons of each. You could qualify for more than one nurse’s visa, and you must leverage the best fit.
Your Arizona immigration attorney will assist with all essential tasks after determining the nurse’s visa that benefits your situation, including:
- Gather and organize all documents for the forms, petitions, and applications that you must complete for a work visa;
- Collaborate with your potential employer on labor certification requirements for the nurse’s visa;
- Coordinating all filings with your employer, including Form I-140 and Form I-129;
- Preparing the forms you must submit when all prerequisites are complete, such as Form I-485, DS-160, and DS-260;
- Consulting with you in advance of your USCIS interview; and,
- Responding to any requests for information.
For many nurses who work in the US, the next steps may include a green card or citizenship. An attorney can also assist with these proceedings.
Count on Legal Support from an Arizona Immigration Lawyer
A summary on the requirements and certifications for a nurse work visa is useful as a big picture, but retaining legal representation is critical for the details. You will also need help with the necessary paperwork and steps in the process, so please contact Diamondback Legal to learn about our services. You can call (602) 755-3199 or go online to set up a consultation with a Phoenix immigration attorney. We can explain more about getting your nurse’s green card after reviewing your situation.
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