The Registered Nurse Work Visa program is always changing and has changed often over the past two decades. The registered nurse work visa, also known as the H-1A Visa, was first created in 1989, as part of the Nursing Relief Act. By September 1, 1995, the nurse visa was no longer available to new applicants. However, in 1999, the US experienced another shortage of registered nurses and created the H-1C Nurse Visa as part of the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Area Act of 1999 in order to attract more professionals to the country. That nurse visa program ended in 2009.
US Congress may decide to reinstate the program. If the H-1C nurse visa program is reinstated by congress, any applicants will need to provide a Registered Nurse license for the state where they plan to work or a certificate from the Commission of Graduate Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). Applicants will also need a license for nursing in their home country or a US-registered education in nursing. Successful applicants for the H-1C nurse visa program will also need a Visa Screen Certificate and will need to prove to the USCIS that they are qualified to practice nursing immediately upon entering the US.
The US nurse visa is a specialized visa program that changes frequently. Whenever there is a shortage of nurses, the US usually creates a nurse visa program in order to allow qualified registered nurses from other countries to live and work in the US. When no specific green card nurse program is in effect in order to attract new nurses into the country, nurses interested in entering the US on a work visa can still apply for US immigration with the USCIS through either the H-1B Work Visa (for Skilled Workers) or through the TN NAFTA Work Visa. The NAFTA work visa, however, is only an option for Mexican or Canadian citizens looking to enter the US.
If you want to seek a US nurse visa but there is no program in place and you wish to apply for an H-1B visa, you will generally need to be an RN with a specialty occupation. Nurses in specific fields or with specialized advanced education or expertise may qualify for an H-1B visa. If you are a Canadian or Mexican citizen and a registered nurse, you are on the approved list of professions for a work visa and you may qualify for a NAFTA work visa.