In the past, requirements for getting an H-1B visa made it impossible for nurses to gain entry to the country with anything other than a Green Card. However, increasing wait times and the need to have paperwork processed even if a nurse had a job in the United States resulted in a shortage of nurses and increased frustration from those wanting to work in the United States.
To qualify for a H-1B visa as a nurse, that nurse must be a part of an organization under the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Recognition Program, perform a complex job that would otherwise require a bachelor's degree or have status as an advanced practice registered nurse, such as a certified nurse practitioner. In addition to fitting into one of the three groups above, the nurse must have a license, complete an approved nursing course and pass the National Council Licensure Examination.
While in the country, the dependents of any nursing professional will be on a H4 visa and the adult may pursue his or her Green Card while working in the country. One of the reasons why nurses were not able to win one of the 65,000 visas handed out each year is because their duties were not necessarily considered specialty because they did not require a bachelor's degree to earn the job.
To earn permanent resident status in the United States, a skilled worker may wish to apply for an employment visa. This visa allows a foreign national to live and work legally in the country for the duration of the time that they are employed. An immigration attorney may be able to help an individual apply for and earn such a visa before entering the country.
Source: The American Bazaar, "H-1B visas get more crowded: more nurses now eligible to compete for jobs under category", August 04, 2014