- General Immigration Information for Registered Nurses
Registered Nurses (RN) are treated in very special ways by US immigration laws. Some requirements highly favor foreign nurses while others impose additional documentation and examination requirements on RNs.
The following information is intended as a basic guide for employers of nurses and for foreign candidates for US nursing positions. In all cases, the information pertains solely to Registered Nurses. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) are not covered in this material.
Given the complexity of the immigration laws, we suspect that even after a careful reading of the material you will have additional questions. We recommend that you contact us to discuss your options and alternatives.
Information designed for employers of nurses is presented in black.
Information specifically oriented for the foreign nursing candidates is presented in green.
Currently Permanent Resident visas (Green Cards) are unavailable for most foreign-born registered nurses. This category of visas is retrogressed for several years. We will keep this website updated if and when the situation improves.
An overview of pertinent information
Employers seeking, perhaps for the first time, to hire foreign-born nurses often have many questions. To assist you in obtaining answers to your initial questions, we have prepared a helpful guide that answers many of the questions most employers have. View our helpful guide on, How can we hire foreign-born Registered Nurses? (PDF)
What are the requirements that the foreign nurses must meet?
- First they must be formally trained as a Registered Nurse from a qualified nursing school.
- They must pass the CGFNS (Certified Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools) exam. CGFNS maintains an active web site and we have extracted pertinent information concerning CGFNS, its Certification Program and the exam dates from that web site. In short the CGFNS Certification program evaluates the foreign nursing candidate’s education, current registration and licensure, prospects for obtaining licensure in the US, English language proficiency and nursing knowledge. A certificate is awarded to those who pass this exam.
- The nurses must then find a qualified employer interested in hiring them as a Registered nurse. Finding an employer can be difficult from a foreign country.
Do you need a State License?
For information on State licensing requirements and the NCLEX exam please click here.
What is VisaScreen® and does it apply to me?
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 the International Commission On Healthcare Professions (ICHP), enables healthcare professionals to meet this requirement by verifying and evaluating their credentials to ensure compliance with the government’s minimum eligibility standards.
Applicants who successfully complete VisaScreen® receive a VisaScreen® Certificate, which can be presented to a consular office, or in the case of adjustment of status, the Attorney General, as part of a visa application. We have assembled some additional information on VisaScreen® and it is available to you simply by clicking here.
Information for Registered Nurses and other Medical Professionals
The United States requires that an applicant meet certain criteria to reside in the U.S. and work as a physical therapist. To learn about the requirements and the process for submitting an application, we have found excellent information from the Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT). FCCPT is a non-profit organization created to assist the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly INS) and U.S. state licensing authorities by evaluating the credentials of Foreign Educated Physical Therapists (FEPTs) who wish to immigrate and work in the United States. For more information on the requirements for Physical Therapist, click here.