H1-B Nurses to US – from guerreroyee.com

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Nursing is fast becoming another “profession-in-transition” in U.S. immigration law parlance. It is not unlike the transition that the physical therapy industry experienced this past decade – when a master’s degree officially became the minimum education standard for entry into the profession.But, again like the physical therapy industry, the initial years of this transition will require compelling arguments from the petitioning employer to convince U.S.

A recent New York State bill sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, Republican Senator James Alesi and other legislators seeks to further professionalize nursing in the state. Specifically, registered nurses would have to earn a baccalaureate degree in nursing (BSN) within ten years to continue working in the state. It does not require nurses who seek to enter the profession to hold a BSN now in order to obtain licensure, however they will have to obtain a BSN within 10 years once licensed.

The bill is a result of the national movement to increase the minimum education standards for nurses. The U.S. nursing community appears split on this issue. While many nurses are lobbying against the bill’s passage, a great many others in the nursing community champion the overall increase in minimum education standards.

The “bachelor’s of science degree in nursing within ten years” movement – known as the “BSN in 10” initiative is supported by health care organizations and nursing associations. It seeks to resolve a significant concern in the industry. Specifically, while the U.S. baby-boomer population ages and creates an explosion in the demand for elder care providers, there are not enough qualified nurses to meet that demand.

Presently, most registered nurses (RNs) hold only an associate’s degree. Incredibly, there is no state that actually requires a BSN as a minimum education level to enter the profession. But any nurse or other health care professional familiar with this occupation will quickly attest to the need for specialized knowledge and skills to perform many of the complex duties demanded in the profession today.

There is no debate regarding the rampant shortage of qualified nurses in the U.S. to care for the existing and growing population. This problem has persisted for decades. Unfortunately, the U.S. labor market has been unable to resolve this problem. Workers and students have recognized the career opportunities in nursing and are entering this profession. But even with this influx of U.S. workers, nearly all in the industry agree that a severe nursing shortage will persist unless more foreign nurses are authorized to work in the U.S. because attrition and a high burn out rate are inherent in the profession.

Foreign nurses are permitted to reside and practice their profession in the U.S. through a limited number of temporary work visas and permanent immigrant visas (m/c/k/a “green cards”) whose availability remains scarce. But if this bill succeeds, there will be a surge in the number of foreign nurses entering the New York State nursing profession, because many of them already have their BSNs or the equivalent. At present, there are thousands of overseas nurses desirous of coming to the U.S. to practice their profession. However, the lack of a BSN minimum education requirement and the current U.S. immigration law prohibits all but a select few foreign nurses to achieve from achieving this goal.

The BSN minimum education requirement and the resulting customs and practices of certain employers in New York State should allow a greater number of foreign nurses holding a BSN in nursing or foreign degree/work experience equivalency to secure H-1B temporary work visas through a petitioning employer. This would be a welcome result for the New York State healthcare system and the countless foreign nurses and their families who wish to immigrate to the U.S.

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that a BSN is, in fact, required for the nursing position sought to be filled by the foreign nurse. Such arguments must be artfully crafted and carefully articulated by the lawyers building the case. But if presented properly, ultimately, USCIS must follow the industry and the employer’s standards, allowing foreign nurses to more easily immigrate to and work in New York state and the U.S.

Please feel free to ask any questions, comment, or request more information in the Comments Box below. Also, please forward this blog article to anyone who may be interested.

Rio M. Guerrero, Esq.