New guidance issued on H-1Bs for healthcare workers

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The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued new guidance on the standards for adjudicating H-1B petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries seeking wmployment in a health-care specialty occupation.

The memo suggests that adjudicators should first consult the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) to determine whether the position qualifies as a H-1B "specialty occupation" as defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The memo addresses licensing requirements for health-care workers in detail, and the effect of having a license - or not having a license - on approval of a case. If the foreign national has the required license, the adjudicator should not "look beyond the license." If the foreign national has a restricted license (e.g., license approved except for mandatory supervised practice), and the petition is otherwise approvable, an adjudicator should approve the petition for one year, or the duration of the restricted license, whichever is longer.

If the employee does not have the license because s/he needs certain immigration documents before getting a license, CIS can approved the petition for one year. The memo says that

"The approval of any such H-1B petition shall not constitute approval by USCIS for the alien beneficiary to engage in any activity requiring possession of such State or local license. It is merely a means to facilitate the state or local licensing authority’s issuance of such a license to the alien, provided all other requirements are satisfied."

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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