The H-1B visa classification allows a U.S. employer to petition for a temporary worker in a
specialty occupation. The term “specialty occupation” means an occupation that requires: (1) theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge; and, (2) attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum requirement for entry into the occupation in the United States. (INA 214(i)(1) and 8 C.F.R 214.2(h)(4)(ii)).
To qualify as a specialty occupation, the regulations require that the petitioner demonstrate that
the position meets at least one of the following criteria:
1. A baccalaureate or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum requirement for
entry into the particular position;
2. The degree requirement is common to the industry in parallel positions among similar
organizations or, in the alternative, an employer may show that its particular position is so
complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree;
3. The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or the nature of the duties [is] so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a baccalaureate or higher degree.
In the U.S., most RN positions do not generally qualify for H-1B classification. This is because the attainment of a Bachelor’s Degree in the specific specialty is not required for entry in to RN positions. Registered nurses usually take one of the following paths: some complete a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, others an Associate Degree in Nursing while other nurses
obtain a diploma from an approved nursing program. Generally, licensed graduates of any of
the three types of education programs (bachelor’s, associate’s, or diploma) qualify for entry-level RN positions.
Although the ADN is still the most common degree people pursue to become an RN, nursing candidates are increasingly pursuing BSN degrees. In addition, RNs with an ADN or diploma may return to school to earn a bachelor’s degree through an ADN-to-BSN program. There are also master’s degree programs in nursing, combined bachelor’s and master’s programs, and programs for those who wish to enter the nursing profession but hold a bachelor’s degree in another field.
The private sector is increasingly showing a preference for more highly educated nurses. The
American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program recognizes health
care organizations that advance nursing excellence and leadership. In this regard, achieving
Magnet status indicates that the nursing workforce within an institution has attained a number of
high standards relating to quality and standards of nursing practice. In these institutions,
Registered nurses’ duties and titles often depend on where they work and the patients with whom
they work. Their work can focus on specific areas such as Addiction nurses, Cardiovascular nurses, Emergency room nurses, Genetics nurses, Neonatology nurses, Nephrology nurses,Oncology nurses, as well as other areas. Depending on the facts of the case, some of
these RN positions may qualify as specialty occupations. Nurse managers of individual units/wards/clinics of Medical Institutions with the Magnet status may also qualify for H-1B classification, if entry in to those positions requires a minimum of at least a baccalaureate degree.
In addition to Nurses who work for Magnet medical institutions, Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) positions may qualify for H-1B classification. Advanced practice registered nurse defines a level of nursing practice that utilizes extended and expanded skills, experience and knowledge in assessment, planning, implementation, diagnosis and evaluation of the care required. Positions that require nurses who are certified APRNs will generally be specialty occupations due to the advanced level of education and training required for certification.
However, having a degree is not, by itself, sufficient for the position to qualify for H-1B
classification. A critical factor remains whether a baccalaureate or higher degree in a specific
specialty (or its equivalent) is normally required for these particular positions. Thus, It must be noted that a beneficiary’s credentials to perform a particular job are relevant only when the job is found to qualify as a specialty occupation. In other words, APRN will only qualify for H-1B classification if the Registered Nurse position is determined to qualify as a specialty occupation.
As such, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Officers determine by
a preponderance of the evidence that the RN position qualifies as a specialty occupation. This means that Officers must review each piece of evidence for relevance, probative value, and credibility, both individually and within the context of the totality of the evidence to determine whether the RN position more likely than not qualifies as a specialty occupation.
Here is the type of documentation to be submitted with the H-1B Petition for a Registered Nurse:
- The nature of the petitioner’s business;
- Industry practices;
A detailed description of the duties to be performed within the petitioner’s businessoperations;
Advanced certification requirements;
ANCC Magnet Recognized status;
Clinical experience requirements;
Training in the specialty requirements; and
Wage rate relative to others within the occupation
Source: USCIS Policy Memorandum PM-602-0104: Adjudication of H-1B Petitions for Nursing Occupations, June 11, 2014