"H" is Not for Healthcare

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In a recent Policy Memorandum, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("the Service") acknowledged some trends and changes in the nursing profession and offered some updated guidance to its officers who review H-1B visa petitions filed on behalf of nurses. While the Service recognizes both that a shortage of nurses is projected nationwide over the next ten years, and that advanced baccalaureate training is being pursued by individuals and required by healthcare employers more frequently than before, this updated guidance still offers little relief to healthcare employers seeking to employ foreign nurses on H-1B visas. The root problem remains the Service's interpretation of what constitutes a "specialty occupation," a threshold requirement for the H-1B program.

The threshold requirement for a H-1B petition is to establish that the position offered to a foreign worker is a specialty occupation, meaning that a bachelor's degree or better in a specialized field is normally an entry-level requirement for the position due to its professional caliber and/or complexity. Industry requirements, the employer's historical requirements, or other information such as national employment statistics make the case that a position is sufficiently specialized.

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