Healthcare providers can hire foreign nationals for a host of positions as long as the individual can present certification from a USCIS-approved credentialing organization.
The credentialing process ensures the individual has met the minimum requirements for training, licensure and English proficiency in their field. Certification programs exist for:
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Speech-language pathologists and audiologists
- Medical technologists and clinical laboratory scientists
- Medical technicians and clinical laboratory technicians
- Physician assistants
The following organizations are authorized to issue certifications for healthcare occupations:
- CGFNS, the credentialing organization for nurses, can also issue certifications for other healthcare occupations.
- The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can issue certifications for occupational therapists.
- The Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT) issues certifications for physical therapists.
Assuming the individual carries the necessary certification, there are several avenues to employment, through work visas and green card sponsorship.
H-1B Visa for Professional Hospital Staff
The H-1B visa is applicable for any position that requires the U.S. equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or higher. Unlike some nursing positions, which require two-year degree programs, many positions available for healthcare worker certification require bachelor’s or master’s degrees, and therefor qualify for H-1B sponsorship.
In addition to receiving healthcare worker certification, H-1B visa requirements include:
- The employer must provide wage information that shows the employee will be paid prevailing wage or actual wage for the position, whichever is higher, of the collective bargaining wage, if applicable;
- Similar positions within the healthcare organization should require the same level of education and certifications;
- The candidate is working under similar conditions to all other employees in similar positions within the organization.
- Cap-exempt hospitals and healthcare institutions can hire qualifying healthcare professionals outside of the competitive H-1B lottery. For more information on hiring in the H-1B cap lottery, download our 19-page H-1B Guide for Employers.
TN Visa – for Mexican and Canadian citizens
The TN visa for Canadian and Mexican citizens is available for the following professions:
- Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/Medical Technologist (Mexico and the United States)
- Occupational Therapist
The TN visa provides employers with an avenue for hiring registered nurses from Canada or Mexico. The TN visa is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning it does not provide a pathway to U.S. permanent residence or citizenship. However, TN visas can be extended indefinitely in three-year increments, as long as the visa holder leaves the country and returns every three years, or files an extension petition with USCIS.
To qualify for a TN visa, the candidate must:
- Hold a valid passport from Canada or Mexico;
- Obtain a Visa Screen credentials assessment from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) International or the appropriate credentialing organization. The certificate will show the candidate has passed language proficiency exams and holds the necessary education and licensure for the position.
- Hold full, unrestricted and permanent license to practice in the state they will be employed; and
- Possess a job offer from a U.S. employer in the qualifying position.
Our experienced healthcare immigration attorneys work with hospitals and healthcare networks across the United States to build immigration strategies that address the needs of their organization. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation to learn how foreign healthcare professionals can augment your workforce.