An H-1C visa is for nurses who wish to work in health professional shortage areas.  The H-1C visa is based on the the former H-1A category for nurses (which expired on September 30, 1997) and was created to address spot labor shortages in the nursing field.  Laws limit the number of H-1C visas issued to 500 annually.  A nurse may practice in the U.S. for three years and the visa may not be extended.

What are the Requirements for Obtaining an H-1C Visa?

To qualify for an H-1C visa, you must first meet the following requirements:

  • You must have a full and unrestricted nurse’s license in your home country, or have received your nursing education in the United States,
  • You must pass an appropriate examination (determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), or have a full and unrestricted license to practice as a registered nurse in the state of intended employment, and
  • You must be fully qualified and eligible under all state laws and regulations to practice as a registered nurse in the state of intended employment immediately upon admission to the United States.

You may satisfy the H-1C requirements by obtaining a certified statement from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), or by obtaining certification from an independent credentialing organization approved by the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; and by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN) examination.

How Can I Hire Foreign Workers Using an H-1C Visa?

An employer wishing to hire a foreign nurse using an H-1C visa must file an attestation with the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the U.S. Department of Labor.  You must indicate the following:

  • The facility was a hospital located in a designated health professional shortage area as of March 31, 1997, and (for the fiscal year 1994) had at least 190 licensed acute care beds with at least 35 percent of its acute care patients entitled to Medicare, and at least 28 percent entitled to Medicaid, thereby meeting the definition of a subsection D hospital found in the Social Security Act;
  • Employment of the H-1C nurse will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed nurses;
  • The H-1C nurse will be paid the same wages as similarly employed nurses;
  • The facility has taken and is taking timely and significant steps to recruit and retain U.S. citizens or eligible immigrant nurses;
  • There is no strike or lockout in the course of a labor dispute, the facility did not and will not lay off a registered nurse employed by the employer within the 90 day period before or after the filing of the H-1C petition, and the employment of the H-1C nurse is not intended or designed to influence the election for a bargaining representative for registered nurses at the facility;
  • Notice of the H-1C petition has been provided to the designated union bargaining representative, or, in the absence there of, has been posted in conspicuous places within the facility;
  • The H-1C nurses at the facility will never number more than one-third of the total registered nursing staff; and
  • The H-1C nurse will not work at a worksite other than a worksite controlled by the petitioning facility, or transfer from one worksite to another.

Do I Need an Attorney to Get an H-1C Visa?

Regardless of whether you are an employer or a foreign nurse, applying for an H-1C visa can be complicated.  An experienced immigration lawyer can help you determine your eligibility and can recommend what steps you need to take.  Similarly, an attorney will be able to discuss alternative options with you.