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Immigration Law

The Little Known H-1C Visa For Nurses

The United States currently has a severe shortage of licensed nurses, and this is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows. To address this concern, the U.S. implemented a visa category allowing nurses to obtain permanent residency. The problem with this, however, is that nurses who are eligible to obtain their green card must wait several years before their visas become available. The H-1C visa is an option for nurses who want to work in the U.S. prior to their permanent residency approval.

In 1999, the U.S. Congress passed the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act. This law created the H-1C visa category that allowed foreign registered nurses to work in the United States for up to three years in certain health professional shortage areas. The law allows for up to 500 nurses per year, with each state limited to only 25 H-1C nurses. This category is open to general RN positions.

The H-1C visa program expired on June 13, 2005. However, effective December 20, 2006, it has been “reauthorized” (meaning it is open again) for another three years until December 20, 2009.

To qualify for H1C status, the beneficiary must:

• Have an unrestricted nurse’s license in his/her home country, or have received nursing education in the United States;

• Have passed the CGFNS or have a full and unrestricted license to practice as a registered nurse in the state of intended employment; and

• Be fully qualified and eligible under all state laws and regulations to practice as a registered nurse in the state of intended employment immediately upon admission to the United States.

The H-1C visa allows registered nurses to work in the United States on a temporary basis. This visa also allows nurses to work in the U.S. while their immigrant visa applications are pending with Immigration Services.

The H-1C visa category is based on the former H-1A visa category for nurses, which expired on September 30, 1997. The H-1C classification is more restrictive, due to its numerical cap on the number of visas issued annually and its application only to underserved areas.

If you have questions about the H-1C visa or any other immigration matter, please contact our office.

For more information about immigration news, immigration laws, immigration policies, proposed immigration laws, border enforcement, green cards, citizenship, employment visas, family visas, naturalization, and other immigration subjects, please visit Immigration Law Answers and DFW Immigration Law Blog.

From Immigration-Law-Answers-Blog posted 2007-03-28.

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