What Is the Process and Timeline for Applying for a Nurse’s Green Card?
Besides dealing with the legal requirements of the immigration process, you will also be making arrangements for the physical move. Plus, timing with a nurse’s green card affects your family if they will be joining you in the US.
When assessing the timeline for getting a nurse’s green card, the key is the immigration process. In most cases, some of the groundwork must be established by your proposed employer before you can get started on your end. Then, you must meet all eligibility rules, including immigration and professional criteria. It is also critical to complete the proper forms and follow procedures for entering the US.
Considering the numerous factors that affect getting a visa to work as a nurse, it is necessary to get qualified legal help. You can trust a knowledgeable Arizona immigration attorney to advise you on eligibility and help navigate the legal requirements, which vary according to the type of visa. Some information on the process and timeline for applying for a nurse’s green card is also useful.
Factors That Impact Timing for a Nurse Green Card in Arizona
There is no way to tell how long it will take to get a nurse’s visa, but some factors affect the process. They include:
- Eligibility: You must qualify under both US immigration laws and the specific visa you seek.
- Type of Visa: The timeline for processing by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) varies significantly among the alternatives for nurses’ work visas.
- Your Home Nation: There are some nurses who have preferences because of international agreements in which the US is a party.
- Your Current Residence: The process could be different if you are residing in the US, as opposed to getting a nurse’s work visa in your home country.
- Family: If you will have immediate family members joining you in the US, there are specific requirements for the visa class you are seeking.
- Choice of Attorney: Hiring the right legal counsel is another important factor that impacts the process and timeline because meticulous attention to detail is needed for nurses’ visas and green cards. Make sure you work with an immigration lawyer who focuses on US immigration laws. Mistakes lead to delays and possibly a denial of your work visa.
Applying Under EB-3
EB-3 is an employment-based visa for qualified foreign workers who want to stay in the US and obtain status as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). Nursing is one profession that is eligible for this type of visa.
EB-3 Process: You can expect around 12 to 18 months from the start to receipt of your EB-3 visa, and the steps include:
- Your potential employer must file documents with USCIS stating that you qualify under a special rule called Schedule A. Processing for nurses is faster because they fall in this class, and Schedule A does not require full Labor Certification.
- Your potential employer must submit Form I-140 – Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker to USCIS. This form provides information and supporting documents on how you meet all criteria for the EB-3.
- After USCIS approves the petition, you must file documents based on your location. If you are already in the US on a different visa, you submit Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Those who are in their home nation will use Form DS-260 – Immigrant Visa Application.
Eligibility Rules: The EB-3 is one of the work visas that require you to have a job offer from a potential employer, who acts as your sponsor. You must also show that you are certified by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) or your passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Benefits of EB-3 Green Cards: The fact that you can live and work permanently in the US, in a profession you enjoy, is priceless. An additional benefit is being able to bring a spouse and children under 21 years old into the US, and they may qualify to work or go to school. In time, you may apply for full US citizenship.
Nurse’s Green Cards Through H-1B in Arizona
H-1B is a nonimmigrant work visa, so it is issued for a specified length of time to individuals in specialty occupations. Nurses with advanced degrees may apply for this visa to get temporary worker status.
Steps in the Process: H-1B visas are limited to a cap, which means your application will be conducted via lottery. You register to be part of the lottery, and you can move on to the next steps once selected by USCIS. They include:
- Labor Certification: Your potential employer must obtain this statement from officials to show that hiring you does not affect US workers.
- Filing Initial Paperwork: The next step is also by your employer, which is submitting Form I-129 – Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to USCIS. This document presents proof that you are eligible for an H-1B visa.
- DS-160 – Nonimmigrant Visa Application: If you are outside the US when applying, you will go through consular processing. You will submit it to the embassy or consulate, and your interview will be conducted at that location.
- H-1B Interview: Officials will ask questions about your personal history, your job, credentials, and other details.
Qualifying for H-1B: Besides meeting all immigration requirements, you must have the education or background to qualify as a specialty occupation. The basic rule is to have a four-year degree or equivalent experience. Registered nurses will typically not qualify unless their specific focus requires a four-year degree. In addition, you must also have proof of your credentials via CGFNS or NCLEX-RN.
Facts to Know About H-1B: This temporary visa is for three years, and can be extended for up to six years by going through the process for Form I-129. Once issued an H-1B visa, you can apply for a green card to get status as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).
TN Nurse’s Work Visas for Canada and Mexico
TN refers to Trade NAFTA visas, which are nonimmigrant, temporary visas issued to individuals in designated professions. Nurses are eligible as one of the 63 jobs on the NAFTA occupation list.
Basics of the TN Visa Process: The timeline for getting your documents depends on what process applies to you, which depends on your home nation:
- If you are a Canadian national, you have two options to apply for a TN work visa. You can apply when you enter a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port-of-entry, in which case you will need to present a letter showing proof of employment, your passport, and credentials. An employer can also file Form I-129 on your behalf to get your TN status before you enter.
- Nurses from Mexico only have one option for a TN nurse visa, and that process begins in your home country. You will submit the DS-160 form for a nonimmigrant visa and go through the interview process to obtain your TN work visa.
Criteria for TN Nurse’s Visa: You must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico to qualify, and permanent residents of those countries are not eligible. In addition, you must have your credentials for CGFNS or NCLEX-RN. If you are a Canadian or Mexican national present in the US on a nonimmigrant visa, you can also use Form I-129 to apply for TN status.
Facts About TN Work Visas for Nurses: A TN visa is issued for three years, but it can be extended indefinitely through Form I-129 filing. Spouses and children under age 21 can join you, though there is a different process for certain foreign nationals.
How a Lawyer Helps with the Process in Arizona
Even though the above information is helpful, you will still need guidance with a nurse’s work visa. Initially, you need to know how to qualify or whether you are already eligible. It is also important to know how one option might be more beneficial for your circumstances and goals as compared to others if you qualify for more than one work visa as a nurse.
Once you determine the best fit for your situation, an Arizona nurse visas attorney can help with the required tasks. You can count on support with:
- Gathering all supporting evidence that will be necessary to complete the forms for your nurse’s work visa;
- Coordinating with your prospective employer in the US to ensure requirements for labor certification are met or you can avoid them under Schedule A;
- Working with your potential employer to manage all filings with USCIS, many of which must be completed in advance;
- Preparing all documents you must file for a nurse’s work visa, such as Form I-485, DS-160, or DS-260;
- Coaching you for the interview with USCIS or consulate officials;
- Dealing with any additional requests or follow-up as necessary; and,
- Assisting with further steps, if you are considering a green card or citizenship.
Set Up a Consultation with an Arizona Immigration Lawyer to Get Started
It is helpful to review the basics of the process and timeline for applying for a nurse’s green card, but the details are critical. You will need knowledgeable legal counsel to guide you through the steps, so please contact Diamondback Legal at (602) 755-3199 or via our website. We are happy to schedule a consultation to discuss your circumstances with an experienced Phoenix immigration attorney.
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