U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Issued a Memorandum Providing Guidance to its Adjudicators Indicating Registered Nurse Positions Can Qualify as a Specialty Occupation

On July 11, 2014, CIS issued a Memorandum acknowledging changes in the nursing industry since its last Memorandum on this subject, issued 12 years ago. According to the new Memorandum, a Registered Nurse (RN) position could qualify as a specialty occupation eligible for an H-1B petition.

CIS acknowledged Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) positions generally will qualify as specialty occupations and provided the following nonexclusive list of titles for APRN positions that would qualify as specialty occupations:

  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM);
  • Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS);
  • Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP); and
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).

When deciding whether an RN position qualifies as a specialty occupation, CIS adjudicators are instructed to analyze the facts of each case and consider the following:

  • The nature of the petitioner’s business;
  • Industry practices;
  • Detailed description of the duties to be performed within the petitioner’s business operations;
  • Advanced certification requirements;
  • ANCC Magnet Recognized status;
  • Clinical experience requirements;
  • Training in the specialty requirements; and
  • Wage rate relative to others within the occupation.

Prior to this Memorandum, CIS’ official position was that RN positions do not qualify as specialty occupations because their educational requirements do not include a Bachelor’s degree as a minimum required level of education. Based on the new standard, healthcare organizations with openings for RN positions that require at least a Bachelor’s degree would have a better chance to prove to CIS that these positions belong to a specialty occupation and therefore, are eligible for H-1B.

Healthcare organizations, affiliated with an institution of higher education, seeking to fill RN positions with qualified RN professionals pursuant to the H-1B program, are able to satisfy their hiring needs through the H-1B program at any time. These organizations are exempt from the H-1B cap and H-1B visas for such organizations are available throughout the year.