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Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration

The future of nursing and the H-1B

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H-1B visas for nurses can be difficult, although many are approved each year. The key driver for success is not the applicant's credentials, but the hospital/facility's educational entry requirements for the position. In order to obtain an H-1B visa, the position must require a Bachelors degree as the minimum educational requirement for the position.

The USCIS has struggled with this concept; they tend to be skeptical of H-1Bs for nurses. The seminal USCIS Guidance Memo was written in 2002, and has not been updated to account for the fact that many hospitals and facilities now require a Bachelors degree for all of their nurses. This is especially true in certain units and in magnet facilities.

The New York Times says that about 50% of all nurses hold a Bachelors degree. It should not come as a surprise to the USCIS that the Bachelors degree requirement increasingly is becoming the norm. The Johnson Foundation, long on the cutting edge of nursing educational studies, is cited in the Times piece. JF contends that growing that number to 80% is a realistic and worthwhile goal. As the number of Bachelor degreed nurses swells, the H-1B likely will become even a more viable immigration strategy.

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  1. More information about the over supply of RN's Avatar
    A foreign BSN has to be evaluated to the same as US BSN. My understanding an Australian BN is evaluated as US Diploma.

    In the US, a student has to graduate from High School which is 12 years of education, many countries don't have 12 years of education and allow students to enter after 10 years. An organization like would need to determine whether the BSN is equal to an American Program. The Boards of Nursing are only interested that min. Nursing educational requirements are met not the program is a BSN.

    A Magnet hospital only needs a percentage of BSN graduates and they have to be from an approved program NLN or CCNE . A foreign BSN would also have to meet these requirements.

    Last point, the areas with job opportunities ( which are very hard to find) are in long term care or home care which do not require a BSN. Presently the job opportunities for US RNs are bleak, when the economy turns the current unemployed US nurses will fill the positions.

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