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Work Visa

What Work Visa Options Are Available for Nurses From Mexico/Canada in Arizona?

For individuals in all member countries, there are many opportunities to live and work within the free trade zone. Because nurses are in such high demand in the US, nursing professionals from Mexico and Canada have numerous options for work visas in Arizona.

NAFTA offers a special type of work visa available to nurses from member nations, easing many of the strict immigration requirements that would normally apply. However, keep in mind that there may be others available. As a national of Canada or Mexico, you can apply for immigration status just like individuals from other countries. Though you do not get preferential treatment, you can get a work visa and move forward with a green card.

Both the immigration laws and the application process can be complicated, so retaining an Arizona immigration lawyer should be a priority. It is also useful to review some facts about work visa options for nurses from NAFTA countries.

Work Visas and Green Cards are Different in Arizona

The definitions used by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are very specific, so they can be confusing. When looking into work visa options, you will also see a multitude of information about green cards that makes the two seem the same. They are different, though there is some additional confusion because of overlap.

  • A work visa authorizes you to live and work in the US, and there are two types. With a temporary, nonimmigrant visa, you are limited to a fixed period of time. The visa does not grant any immigration status, and you do not get a green card. You will have to go through a separate process to get a green card if you qualify. There are also permanent, immigrant work visas for nurses. When you apply through this option, you get your work visa while you are in your home country. Upon arrival in the US, you can get a green card.
  • USCIS uses the term Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) to refer to someone who has a green card. An LPR can live and work permanently in the US, enjoying almost all the benefits of citizenship. Plus, you may apply for naturalization to become a US citizen within three to five years.

TN-NAFTA is a Unique Work Visa Option

A TN work visa is available to nurses from Mexico and Canada through NAFTA, so the steps for getting it are simplified compared to some other work visa options. There is no cap on TN visas, which are valid for three years and can be extended for additional three-year periods.

Eligibility: The criteria for getting a TN nurse’s visa include:

  • You must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico, and permanent residents of these nations do not qualify.
  • You qualify under the list of NAFTA professions as a nurse.
  • You have an existing job offer from an employer in the US, which may be full- or part-time. Self-employed individuals cannot obtain a TN visa.
  • You must have evidence showing that your qualifications meet those required by the position.

Process for Obtaining TN Visas: Of all work visa options available for nurses from Mexico or Canada, applying for the TN visa is the most streamlined. The process varies depending on your home country:

  1. TN Visas for Nurses from Canada: You can have your sponsoring employer file a Form I-129 on your behalf to get the visa process started in advance. However, nurses can also head to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry with a passport, a letter from the employer, and proof of qualifications.
  2. TN Visas for Nurses from Mexico: You must complete DS-260 – Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application to get a TN visa before entry. After approval through consular processing, you can show your documents to CBP to enter the US.

Nurses Qualify for EB-3 Immigrant Work Visas in Arizona

There are many reasons that a TN visa may not be the right fit, but an EB-3 could be appropriate. An EB-3 is an employment-based visa that allows you to live and work in the US, and gain permanent residency. It is open to nurses from Mexico, Canada, and across the globe.

Eligibility: Any applicant for EB-3 must be admissible to the US under USCIS rules. The key is grounds for inadmissibility, so an individual may not qualify because of health concerns, being a national security threat, or a history of defrauding the immigration process. Nurses specifically must meet the following criteria:

  • You have a two-year degree from an accredited institution.
  • You possess a license to work as a nurse in your home country, including Canada or Mexico.
  • You have at least two years’ worth of experience working as a nursing professional.

Process for Obtaining EB-3 Visas: There are different forms to submit and fees to pay to obtain your EB-3 visa. Some of the work will be completed by your prospective employer since you must have a job offer before you can get your nurse’s visa.

  1. US officials want to protect American jobs, so your employer needs to get Labor Certification showing the impact on workers. The nursing shortage works to your advantage because the high demand means the process of getting Labor Certification goes faster.
  2. Your employer must start the process by filing Form I-140 – Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. The point is to prove that you qualify for the position and that the company has the financial resources to pay you.
  3. After you receive notification that Form I-140 was approved, you can apply for the EB-3 visa. You will use DS-260 for consular processing in Mexico or Canada. If you are currently in the US on another lawful status, you file Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

H-1B is a Nonimmigrant Option in Arizona

Nurses who want to come to the US to work for a temporary time period can use the H-1B work visa, but there are additional requirements because this category is reserved for specialty occupations. Medical and health positions, including nurses, qualify as long as they meet the educational criteria. An H-1B is valid for three years and can be extended for a total of six years.

H-1B is a dual-intent visa, which means that you can apply for a green card. You will need to go through a separate process if you choose to become an LPR to live and work in the US permanently.

Eligibility: In addition to the basic requirements and admissibility factors, you may qualify for the H-1B if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have a four-year degree in nursing from an accredited institution.
  • If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, you are an RN with an additional two years of education to gain skills in a medical specialty.
  • You have a current job offer from an employer in the US.
  • You must have a license to practice nursing in Mexico or Canada.

Process for Obtaining H-1B Visas: This process also starts with action by your employer, followed by your visa application and filings.

  1. Your employer needs to submit a Labor Condition Application proving that hiring you will not affect other employees and that the company will pay a prevailing wage.
  2. The Form I-129 – Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers must be filed by your sponsoring employer, providing information on your eligibility for a visa.
  3. After the Form I-129 is approved, it is your turn to file. You submit Form DS-160 – Nonimmigrant Visa Application, along with supporting documentation. The application goes through consular processing, and it is affected by how many H-1B visas are available.

You Need Legal Help from an Immigration Lawyer 

Though the above information is useful, it takes in-depth knowledge and extensive experience in immigration law to assist with work visa options for nurses. You could be working with officials from USCIS, the Department of State, and the National Visa Center, each of which plays a different role with a TN, EB-3, or H-1B visa. Additional reasons to retain an Arizona immigration attorney include:

  • You need guidance to choose the right work visa for your position and family. Much of your decision will depend on your objectives with the immigration process and whether you intend to work in the US as a nurse temporarily or indefinitely. A lawyer can help you with goals assessment.
  • When you decide on a visa that suits your needs, it is critical to closely collaborate with your sponsoring employer. An attorney can communicate and coordinate to ensure the company has all it needs to complete the employer’s side.
  • You must fill out the relevant forms for your nurse’s work visa, along with all evidence and supporting documentation. Having a lawyer’s help with documentation prevents mistakes.

Our Arizona Immigration Attorneys Will Explain Nurse Work Visa Options

It is reassuring to know that you can qualify for a TN as a nurse from Mexico or Canada, but you should also consider the EB-3 and H-1B options depending on your goals. For more information on work visas for those in NAFTA nations, please contact Diamondback Legal. Our immigration law firm focuses on nurses’ visas, so we can help you decide which route is best for your circumstances. You can reach our offices in Phoenix by calling (602) 755-3199 or checking out our website. We are happy to schedule a consultation with an experienced Arizona immigration lawyer.

Related Content: What Are the Different Types of Nurse Work Visas Available?


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