Understanding Green Cards for Nurses in the U.S.

Understanding Green Cards for Nurses in the U.S.

Nurses play a critical role in the U.S. healthcare system, but there is a growing shortage of nurses in the profession. To exacerbate the situation, there are not enough nurses enrolled in educational programs across the country to keep pace with the demand. Finally, there is a high turnover rate among nurses and an aging workforce. There is a massive need for nurse green card sponsorship. 

What is an EB-3 Visa for Nurses in the U.S.?

The EB-3 visa allows qualified foreign workers to come to the United States to work in a permanent, full-time position. The work done in the U.S. cannot be seasonal or temporary. Nurses are one of the professions that can qualify for this type of visa.

To be eligible for an EB-3 visa as a nurse, you must have two years of education from an accredited institution and have a license to work in the country where you received your education. Additionally, you need to obtain a full and unrestricted license to practice nursing in the state where you will be working. Finally, you must have at least two years of full-time professional nursing experience.

What Steps Are Involved in Applying for a U.S. EB-3 Visa as a Nurse?

To begin the process for an EB-3 visa, you must be eligible to lawfully work a job with a U.S. employer in a certified nursing position.

There are three key steps for obtaining an employment-based immigrant visa:

  • The process of obtaining a green card for nurses begins with your sponsoring U.S. employer filing an uncertified labor certification and visa petition directly with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Since there is a national shortage, the U.S. Department of Labor includes registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN), and licensed vocational nurses (LVN) on a list called “Schedule A,” which means hiring non-U.S. citizens will not affect U.S. wages. This designation makes the hiring process faster for nurses because hospitals are not required to complete the labor certification known as PERM, which essentially prevents a foreign worker from displacing a U.S. worker who is able, willing, qualified, and available to do the work.
  • Next, your U.S. employer must file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker on your behalf with the USCIS. This petition aims to verify that the foreign worker has the minimum requirements to fill the open position and serves to classify the foreign person as eligible for a particular visa category. Nurses need to be able to provide a Commission On Graduates Of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) certification, a license to practice nursing in the state of the intended employer, or a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Your employer must also demonstrate their ability to pay your wages.
  • If you are already residing in the United States, you may be able to apply for lawful permanent resident status by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. However, if the nurse is residing outside of the United States, he or she must apply for an EB-3 immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate. If applying while living outside of the U.S., the DS-260 application is also required once the immigrant visa is available.

Once your application is processed, you will be scheduled for an interview at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If your application is approved, you will be issued an immigrant visa and can begin planning to move to the United States.

Preparing for an EB-3 Green Card Interview

The green card interview will be conducted in English and will focus on your professional qualifications, employment history, and ties to the United States. You should be prepared to answer questions about your education, training, licensure, and work experience. The officer will also ask about your plans to live and work in the United States. Be prepared to explain how you will support yourself financially and why you want to live permanently in the U.S. The interview is your opportunity to demonstrate that you are eligible for a green card and intend to comply with all the requirements of permanent residency.

If any information in your interview contradicts the information in your application, your I-140 may be revoked and your visa application denied. Carefully review your application before heading to the interview. Additionally, you may have your immigration attorney present during the interview to counsel you.

Preparing Your Dependent Family Members for Their Interview

If your family is coming with you to the  U.S., they will also be interviewed by an immigration officer. Your spouse and children will be asked questions about their relationship with you and any knowledge about your job or work history. Your spouse will also likely be asked questions about your marriage. Make sure they go to the interview with any important documentation, such as joint family financial assets, marriage certificates, and birth certificates.

Processing Time for an EB-3 Visa

EB-3 green card processing time can vary depending on the USCIS workload and the number of green cards available in each category. You can expect to receive your receipt notice in 2-3 weeks after submitting the form I-140, and it can take up to six to eight months or longer or more to receive an approval notice on an application. The entire process, from start to finish, can take anywhere between one to three years.

Premium Processing for an EB-3 Visa

The two types of processing for an EB-3 visa are regular and premium. The regular process is the most common.

Premium processing is a faster option and it guarantees a decision within 15 days for a fee of $1,225. If your case isn’t processed in that timeframe, you’ll receive a refund but continue to get expedited premium processing. To receive premium processing, submit Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, and pay the fee.

USCIS will normally expedite petitions for the dependent spouse and children of the principal applicant so long as they are filed concurrently with the principal applicant’s petition. However, if the application processing time is delayed, dependents and spouses are not required to receive a refund for premium processing.

What Are the Benefits of an EB-3 Visa for Nurses in the U.S.?

This visa allows nurses to come to the United States to work in a hospital or other medical facility for 10 years. Renewal does not require the holder to re-qualify, only to pay the renewal fee and demonstrate good character.

The EB-3 visa also offers some benefits that other visas do not. For example, nurses on this visa can bring their spouses and children under 21 to the United States. Their visa will be an E-34 or E-35.

In addition, an EB-3 visa does not require nurses to have a job offer before they come to the United States. This makes it a great option for nurses who want the flexibility to choose their job when they arrive in the U.S.

It’s easier to meet the requirements of an EB-3 visa than other permanent residence visas. However, the EB-3 visa has the longest waiting period, so qualifying for an EB-2 or EB-1 visa will help you obtain your green card faster, which is especially true if you are from a highly populated country with many people seeking immigration to the U.S.

What Are the EB-3 Visa Fees?

The total cost of obtaining an EB-3 visa will vary. Your employer will cover some of the expenses, including the fees associated with filing Form I-140, which costs $700, as well as any additional premium processing fees ($1,225).

Once your I-140 is approved, your next step is to file Form I-485 adjustment of status, which is $1,140 plus an $85 biometrics services fee. Alternatively, if you’re living abroad, you will pay the DS-260 processing fee ($325) and the affidavit of support fee ($125).

Additionally, you’ll have to consider additional travel fees and the cost of legal representation.

How to Find An Employer to Sponsor an EB-3 Visa

The first step is looking for employers with a history of sponsoring green cards for nurses. These employers will likely be familiar with the process and more willing to sponsor your visa. You can search online for these employers or ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations. Once you have a list of potential employers, the next step is to reach out to them and inquire about the possibility of sponsorship. Be prepared to provide information about your qualifications and why you would be a good fit for their organization. There are also recruitment agencies that specialize in helping foreign nurses find employment opportunities in the U.S.

Can You Have Multiple Sponsors for an EB-3 Visa?

Theoretically, you could get separate EB-3 sponsorships from different hospitals simultaneously. Ultimately, however, you will only be able to accept one position. . The employer must intend to hire you for a full-time permanent position. If you are at a point where there are multiple petitions approved, you have to select only one. It’s important to be considerate of the employers who are paying for the EB-3 green card. It is better to ask questions and make a decision early in the process by choosing one employer based on the best fit for you.

Can You Change Jobs if You Have an EB-3 Visa?

If you’ve received your nurse visa, you do not have to remain with the same employer forever. However, moving to a different employer shortly after starting the job could cause problems down the road if you pursue citizenship. Also, you accepted the job offer in good faith, and moving on too soon could be a red flag to the USCIS and call into question the validity of your green card. Since there is no set rule, it’s hard to know how long is enough. Typically at least six months to a year is enough to prove you acted in good faith.

Are there other options available if I don’t qualify for an EB-3 visa for nurses in the U.S.?

If you are a nurse looking to obtain a green card and live in the United States permanently, you may wonder if the EB-3 visa is your only option. While the EB-3 visa is certainly one of the most common ways for nurses to obtain green card sponsorship, a few other options are available.

Certain nurses may be eligible for an H-1B visa, which allows them to work in the United States for up to six years. Alternatively, nurses who have already obtained an advanced degree or have significant nursing experience may be eligible for an EB-2 visa. However, it should be noted that obtaining an EB-2 visa can be a significantly longer and more complicated process than applying for an EB-3 visa.

Ultimately, whether or not you qualify for an EB-3 visa will depend on your specific situation and qualifications. If you are unsure of which option is best for you, it is recommended that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

Contact Experienced Immigration Attorneys Today

The EB-3 visa for nurses in the U.S. is a great option for those looking to immigrate to the United States and work as a registered nurse. The benefits of this visa include living and working permanently in the United States and bringing your family with you when you move. 

If you are interested in applying for an EB-3 visa, contact Scott D. Pollock & Associates today by filling out our online form, or calling us at 312.444.1940. We can help guide you through the process and ensure everything is done correctly to get the visa you need.

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