Immigrant Visa Procedures for Foreign Nurses

The US government requires employers interested in petitioning foreign workers for employment in the US to demonstrate that they have first attempted to recruit US workers for the position.

Once the recruiting period has ended, the employer and Professional Nurse may begin the visa petition process.

To obtain the visa, processing is accomplished either by adjustment of status, if the nurse is lawfully in the United States, or consular processing if residing abroad.

If you are a registered nurse or healthcare employer, here are the steps our law firm would take to help obtain your U.S. permanent residence, which are mandated by law:

We interview you via world-wide web to determine your visa eligibility, and guide you in gathering required supporting evidence for the application.

We update you on current waiting times for application processing.

To comply with the Government’s U.S. labor recruiting requirements, we obtain the prevailing wage from the locality of your intended employment, and oversee U.S. worker recruitment efforts.

We guide and direct you in strict compliance with law, and in preparing for a random Government audit.

We prepare and send you or the healthcare employer the application package for review and signature, and once returned, file your documentation with the U.S. Government.

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America ’s shortage of trained and highly-skilled professional nurses is broadly acknowledged here in the United States.

To expedite hiring in this field, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has exempted nurses from the normal labor certification process.

Healthcare employers may now directly petition USCIS on for an employment-based visa on behalf of the nurse, and are no longer required to pursue separate certification from the DOL.

Which Professional Nurses Qualify:

Registered nursesonly; they are considered a “Schedule A” employment category and are exempt from the labor certification process.

Licensed practical nurses are not considered Professional Nurses under this category.

The Professional Nurse must possess:

A full unrestricted permanent license to practice nursing in the U.S. state of intended employment.

A temporary license to practice nursing in the state of intended employment is not sufficient.

A CGFNS certificate issued by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools.

The nurse must have received the CGFNS certificate.

Proof that the nurse has passed the CGFNS nursing skills examination is not sufficient, as the nursing skills examination alone does not verify that the applicant has a level of proficiency in the English language to perform the duties of a registered nurse in the United States.


Evidence that the nurse has passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

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U.S. Citizenship

Typically an applicant must:

Be a lawful permanent resident;
Reside continuously in the United States for five years (3 if married to a US citizen);
Read, write and speak English;
Have an understanding of U.S. history and government;
Possess good moral character;
Support the U.S. and the Constitution.
If you are married to a U.S. citizen or served in the U.S. military, you may be eligible for citizenship in three years or less. You may also qualify if either of your parents was a U.S. citizen when you were born.


The above information is not intended as legal advice, but only to list just some of the benefits available under U.S. immigration law, as well as activities that might jeopardize their right to live in the U.S.

You should speak with an attorney or legal services office for more information on how these laws might affect you.

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Motion to Vacate a Criminal Judgment

A 440 motion to vacate a criminal conviction could prove to be very useful in immigration proceedings, although not filed in immigration court.

This is because many people are convicted of charges that leave them with little to no immigration relief, such as drug trafficking or aggravated felonies crimes.

They may have many options to remain in the US, if that conviction no longer appears on their record

A successful motion to vacate would make it as if the conviction never occurred and maybe, It may allow the alien access to many types of immigration Visas that were not previously available, such as asylum, adjustment of status or cancellation of removal.

Under the recent Supreme Court case Padilla v. Kentucky, is the most common reason to vacate a conviction in the immigration context.

In that case the Supreme Court ruled that a criminal attorney has the duty to advise a non citizen of any immigration consequences that would result from a plea they accept.



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Avoiding Deportation

If you’re not yet a U.S. citizen, you must be extremely careful to stay on the right side of the law.

Below is a list of just a few of the unlawful activities that can lead to deportation:

Theft offenses and fraud crimes
Drug offenses, including possession and trafficking
Immigration fraud and alien smuggling
Serious violent crimes
Rape and statutory rape
Domestic violence
Arson and malicious destruction of property
Harboring a fugitive
RICO violations
Firearms offenses

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Cancellation of Removal

If you have illegally resided in the U.S. for 10 years, have good moral character, and your deportation would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parent, you may qualify for permanent residence.

Certain citizens of El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as the former communist countries of Eastern Europe who came to the United States in 1990 or earlier may also be eligible for NACARA, a related form of relief.

This is a very risky application that requires going before the immigration court for deportation proceedings.

It is critical that you consult with a knowledgeable immigration attorney before seeking this relief.

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Permanent Resident Visas through Your U.S.

Immediate Relative Petitions

If you are the parent, child under age 21, or spouse of a U.S. citizen, a visa for permanent residence is immediately available once the Immigration Service grants the petition.

In some instances, applicants who are not lawfully in the U.S. may be allowed to remain while USCIS considers their cases.

Preference Petitions

Visas based on other family relationships may have extended waits based on the government’s order of preference and the limited number of visas issued annually. The waiting times are regularly updated by the U.S. State Department and posted monthly on the on the Visa Bulletin.

First Preference:
Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens (age 21 or older)

Approximate Waiting time for most countries: 5 years
For Mexico: 12 years
For Philippines: 14 years
Second Preference:
(a) Children under age 21 and Spouses of Permanent Residents

Approximate waiting time for most countries: 4 years
For Mexico: 7 years
(b) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (age 21 or older) of Permanent Residents

Approximate waiting time for most countries: 9 years
For Mexico: 14 years
Third Preference:
Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens

Approximate waiting time for most countries: 8 years
For Mexico: 13 years
For Philippines: 15 years
Fourth Preference:
Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens

Approximate waiting time for most countries: 12 years
For India: 13 years
For Philippines: 22 years

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