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H-1C Non-Immigrant Visa

The Nursing Relief for Disadvantage Areas Act of 1999 (NRDAA) established the H-1C program to reduce the shortage of qualified nurses in health professional shortage areas. The H-1C program is for foreign nurses coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform services as a registered nurse in a health professional shortage area as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor. Only 500 nurses can be granted H-1C status in a fiscal year nationally. There are also numerical limitations for each state based on the state’s population. The cap for states with populations in excess of 9 million is 50 per fiscal year. The cap on states with populations of 9 million or less is 25 per fiscal year. The H-1C program has been reauthorized for an additional three years, until December 20, 2009.

 

U.S. Employer/Petitioner Requirements

The U.S. Employer (“Petitioner”) must meet strict criteria to be eligible to file a petition under H-1C Program. To qualify, the Petitioner must:

  • Be a “subpart D” hospital under the Social Security Act;
  • Be located in a Health Professional Shortage Area as of March 31, 1997;
  • Have at least 190 acute care bed;
  • Have a Medicare population of 35%; and
  • Have a Medicaid population of 28%.

Foreign Nurse/Beneficiary Requirements

To be eligible for an H-1C visa, the foreign nurse (“Beneficiary”) must:

    • Have an unrestricted nursing license in the country where the nursing education was obtained, orHave received a nursing education in the U.S.;
    • Be authorized by the appropriate U.S. State Board of Nursing to practice within the state:
  • oHave passed the examination given by the Commission on Graduates for Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), or
  • oHave a full and unrestricted license to practice as an RN in the state where the RN will work, or
  • oHave a full and unrestricted RN’s license in any state and have received temporary authorization to practice as an RN in the state where he/she will work;
  • Have been fully qualified and eligible under the laws governing the place where the RN was to work to practice as an RN immediately upon admission to the U.S., and been authorized under such laws to be employed by the hospital; and

  • Must obtain a visa screen.

How to petition for an H-1C nurse

The first step in petitioning for an H-1C nurse is filing the Form ETA 9081, Attestation for H-1C Nonimmigrant Nurses, with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Chief, Office of Foreign Labor Certifications in Washington, D.C. There is a $250 filing fee for each attestation. For information on how to file an attestation with the Department of Labor, please visit the Department of Labor’s website

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Once the Department of Labor accepts the Form 9081, the Petitioner (hospital) will be notified. Upon receiving notification, the Petitioner is eligible to file the H-1C petition. All H-1C petitions are filed with the USCIS Vermont Service Center. The following documents should be included in the H-1C petition:

  • Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker:
  • Copy of the Department of Labor’s acceptance of the filing of Form ETA 9081;
  • A statement from the Petitioner describing any limitation which the laws of the state or jurisdiction of intended employment place on the foreign nurse’s services;
  • Evidence that the Beneficiary named on the petition is a person who is or will be authorized by a State Board of Nursing to engage in registered nurse practice in a state or U.S. territory or possession, and who is or will be practicing at a facility which provides health care services;
  • Evidence that the Beneficiary named on the petition has passed the examination given by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), or has obtained a full and unrestricted (permanent) license to practice as a registered nurse in the state of intended employment or has obtained a full and unrestricted (permanent) license in any state or territory of the United States and received temporary authorization to practice as a registered nurse in the state of intended employment;

  • Evidence that the Beneficiary has obtained a full and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the country where the Beneficiary obtained nursing education or has received nursing education in the U.S.; and

  • Evidence that the Beneficiary named on the petition is fully qualified and eligible under the laws (including such temporary or interim licensing requirements which authorize the nurse to be employed) governing the place of intended employment to practice as a registered nurse immediately upon admission to the U.S., and is authorized under such laws to be employed by the employer.

Note: More than one nurse may be included on an H-1C petition as long as all of above is submitted on behalf of each beneficiary.

Change of Employers and Multiple Employers

A change of employers requires a new H-1C petition. New employment (any employment other than the originally approved employment) cannot begin until a petition for change of employment is approved by the USCIS. If an H-1C nonimmigrant nurse will work for more than one employer, each employer must file its own H-1C petition on the foreign nurse’s behalf.

Dependents

Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of H-1C workers are entitled to H-4 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may not be employed under the H-4 classification.

Period of Admission

The maximum period of admission for an H-1C alien is three years. An H-1C nurse may receive an extension of stay to complete the 3-year period of admission (if the petition/visa was approved for less than the maximum 3 years). However, an extension of stay may not be granted to extend the alien’s period of admission beyond the initial 3-year period of time.