Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018.
Sign up for free email newsletters and get more SHRM content delivered to your inbox.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 14 cities across the U.S. this fall.
Gain the skills you need to rise to the next level in your career. Jon us at SHRM's Leadership Development Forum, October 2-3 in Boston.
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Responding to a predicted shortage of nurses in the United States, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has expanded the pool of nurses who may qualify for H-1B visas.
This is the first new guidance on H-1B eligibility for nurses since 2002, in which time the nursing industry has undergone some changes, including requiring higher education for certain nursing areas. Nurses in these fields may now be eligible for H-1B visas, according to USCIS.
U.S. employers petition for H-1B visas for temporary workers in specialty occupations, defined as jobs that require highly specialized knowledge or the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty.
Most registered nurse (RN) positions are not qualified as a specialty occupation because they do not normally require a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in nursing as the minimum for entry into those positions. Instead, most RN positions require an associate’s degree or certificate of nursing.
Some positions have been exceptions to the rule. Advanced practice registered nurse positions such as certified nurse-midwife, certified clinical nurse specialist and certified nurse practitioner have been H-1B eligible because they require an advanced level of education and training.
USCIS has acknowledged “changes in the nursing industry” and specifically, employers “increasingly showing a preference for more highly educated nurses,” as the impetus to revisit H-1B qualifications for nurses. “Although the [associate’s degree] is still the most common degree people pursue to become an RN, nursing candidates are increasingly pursuing [bachelor’s of science] degrees,” the agency said.
USCIS is reconsidering RN positions that focus on specialized patient populations and said that depending on the facts of the case, nurses in these fields may qualify as specialty occupations:
Additionally, USCIS indicated that if a state requires at least a bachelor’s degree to obtain a nursing license, an RN position in that state would be considered a specialty occupation. All 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories each require nurses to hold nursing licenses, though none of them require a bachelor’s degree to become licensed.
Establishing ‘Specialty Occupation’
When assessing whether an RN position meets the evidentiary standard, USCIS takes into account several factors, including the nature of the employer’s business, industry practices, duties to be performed, certification requirements, the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Recognition status, wages paid in relation to other nurses, specialty training and clinical experience requirements.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him at
SHRM Online Global HR page
Keep up with the latest
Global HR news
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Become a SHRM Member
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies