Until an easier
way is "invented", the best way for a foreign
nurse to come to the U.S. for employment, is by locating
a U.S. employer who is willing to sponsor the nurse's
Green Card (immigrant visa).
Locating an employer in another country,
or half way around the world, is not an easy task.
Many companies just do not want the bother or
responsibility of the immigration
"hassle". But, as the shortage of
Registered Nurses becomes more apparent across the U.S.,
more healthcare employers and recruiting agencies are
taking a closer look at foreign talent!
What can you do to prepare yourself for
the U.S. employment experience?
Most employers or recruiting agencies will
first ask you, "Have you passed the CGFNS
exam?" So it will be in your best
interest if you can answer "YES"
at that time! Most foreign nurses already know
about CGFNS (The Commission on Graduates of Foreign
Nursing Schools), but if you do not, go to their
website at www.cgfns.org and read it
thoroughly. In most cases, it will be impossible
for you to enter the U.S. for employment without first
having taken the CGFNS exam.
This is a summary of the steps
you have to go through in order to be able to work in a
nursing position in the USA
We recommend, even before you try to find employment,
that you contact CGFNS about their
Register and sit for the exam as soon as possible.
While you're waiting for the CGFNS exam results, update
your resume! We have programs to show you the
proper way to create a resume. This is a
very important step as this resume will represent you to
the prospective employer and you want to look
Once you have the CGFNS certification, you may
then set out to locate an employer, staffing company, or
healthcare recruiter. The best resource is, of
course, the Internet. We will help you locate jobs
and post your resume with specialist healthcare and
When you make contact with an employer who shows
interest, make sure they immediately know that you will
need to be sponsored for a Green Card and receive your
immigrant visa before you can arrive in the U.S.
Most employers will know this already, if they are
willing to interview foreign nurses, but it would not
hurt to let them know that you are aware of this and
you've already done your research on the process.
If they seem to hesitate about the immigration process,
please feel free to refer them to our website, or let us
know and we will contact them by providing them with
reassuring information on the Green Card process.
When Step 4 results in an employment
agreement between you and a U.S. employer you can tell
them that you've found a company who will process your
immigrant visa paperwork, or they may have someone they
already use. If they want you to be responsible for
the process, send us email and our specialist sub
contractor will take you and the employer through the
process, hand-in-hand. At this point your I-140
Immigrant Visa Petition will begin.
Once your immigrant visa process is
underway, it is time to proceed with your VisaScreen™
U.S. immigration law now requires that healthcare
professionals, other than physicians, complete a
screening program in order to qualify for certain
occupational visas. VisaScreen™,
a program offered by International Commission on
Healthcare Professions (ICHP - in association with
CGFNS), enables healthcare professionals to meet this
requirement by verifying and evaluating their credentials
to ensure compliance with the government's minimum
The waiting period required for receipt of
the VisaScreen™ certificate varies, but we
suggest proceeding with the application as soon as your
I-140 Petition for Immigrant Worker has been filed with
INS. You'll need to present the certificate when
you go for the final visa interview at the consulate, so
having it in plenty of time before your interview will
help relieve some of the stress you'll naturally be
feeling at that point!
If your new employer hasn't already discussed it with you
by this time, talk to them about which state or states
they anticipate that you may be working in. Because
now, you need to apply for state license,
which also includes registering to take the NCLEX.
After you know which state you may be
working in, write to the state nursing board and request
an application to sit for NCLEX. You can find the list
nursing boards with their addresses here. Be
sure to inform them that you are a graduate of a foreign
nursing program and have passed the CGFNS
Each board operates differently, and some
will issue temporary (interim) licenses for you to
practice, once you enter the U.S., until you can sit for
the NCLEX. In most cases, your new employer will
likely have a licensing coordinator that will be
assisting you in the licensing step, or at least someone
who can advise you on the process with the various
The hardest step of all...now you wait!
Once the I-140 has been submitted to INS, approval can
take 3 - 6 months or longer, depending on the location of
the employer and/or worksite (each of the four INS
service centers have jurisdiction over certain
states...some service centers process faster and more
efficiently than others).
If your Priority Date is current, several weeks after the
I-140 has been approved, you'll receive forms and
instructions from "the Visa Processing Center"
in New Hampshire, for the final step of consulate
processing. If our subcontractor assist in your
Green Card process, they will assist in the completion of
these final forms also. Once the forms have been
submitted to the consulate, you'll receive instructions
for obtaining medical exams and fingerprinting.
Remember, waiting periods for all these steps can vary
greatly from consulate to consulate.
Now, you are waiting for the notice of your interview
date! If our subcontractors are helping you
processing your Green Card, they will give you a review
on how the interview is usually conducted, what questions
to expect, what papers / documents to take with you, etc.
The interview at the U.S. consulate.
Your arrival in the U.S.! Congratulations!
You should note:
These steps are very simplified,
just to show you the general flow of the process.
If you have questions on a particular step, please do not
hesitate to contact us by email, Ref.: Nurses
Employment in the USA