A registered nurse can get a green card to come to the US more easily than almost any other professional.
You may want to watch the Workforce Webinar on International Recruitment of RNs And Allied Health Workers that I did for the Hospital Association of Southern California on March 9, 2022.
Registered nurses are classified by the US Department of Labor as a Schedule A shortage occupation which makes it easier for RNs (and Physical Therapists) to immigrate to the United States than for persons in other occupations.
Employers can sponsor registered nurses for green cards without having to undergo the lengthy and expensive PERM process.
However, a foreign-born RN must pass the NCLEX examination (and sometimes the CGFNS examination), pass an English examination, obtain a VisaScreen certificate and be sponsored by a US employer in order to immigrate to the United States.
Some RNs are eligible for temporary working visas. RNs who are citizens of either Canada or Mexico can be sponsored for TN visas. RNs whose jobs require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree may be eligible for H-1B visas. However, most RNs are ineligible for H-1B visas due to USCIS’s restrictive policies.
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“I am an Internationally Educated Nurse petitioned by US employer and the Law Offices of Carl Shusterman helped me throughout the entire process of my IV application. They were extremely thorough with regard to the instructions and the steps that I needed.”
- Francis R., Nashville, Tennessee
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We have immigrated over 10,000 registered nurses to work in the hospitals across United States over the past 30+ years. We represent over 100 hospitals and other health care providers.
We hope that this page and the links below demystify the process of immigration for nurses and their employers. We link to numerous articles which explain how to submit a visa petition for a foreign-born RN, discuss the VisaScreen requirements which include credentialing and English-language proficiency tests, and enable readers to contact nurse licensing boards.
Registered Nurse – Green Card Process, Step-by-Step
In order for a foreign-born RN to obtain a green card, she/he must first:
- Obtain a college degree in nursing;
- Get a license abroad as an RN;
- Pass an English examination;
- Pass the NCLEX examination;
- Get a job offer from a U.S. employer;
- Get an RN license in the state of intended employment;
- Obtain a VisaScreen certificate;
- Get the approval of an I-140 visa petition;
- When her priority date is current, get an immigrant visa abroad or, if she is lawfully present in the United States, apply for adjustment of status; and
- When the RN is interviewed for an immigrant visa (green card), her spouse and children will be interviewed and granted immigrant visas together with the RN.
Immigration for Registered Nurses is divided into the following subtopics:
- International RNs – An Employers Guide to Getting Green Cards and Work Visas
- The U.S. Has a Shortage of Nurses – What Congress Needs to Do
- Licensing and VisaScreen
- English Examinations
- California’s RN-Patient Staffing Ratios
- National Shortage of RNs
- RNs Recruitment Firms
SUCCESS STORIES – IMMIGRATION FOR REGISTERED NURSES
- Saving a Client’s Job
- RN Upgrades from EB-3 to EB-2
- Saving an RN From Being Deported
- Helping a RN Remain in the U.S.
- Helping an Immigrant Overcome Attorney Error
- RN: “It Never Hurts to Ask”
- Employment-Based Immigration: 100 RNs
IMMIGRATION FOR REGISTERED NURSES
- Chapter 7 – Schedule A Designation Petitions – USCIS Policy Manual
- NCLEX Application and Licensing Instructions
- RN Licensing Requirements: State-by-State
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: RNs
- Why Filipino RNs are a Huge Presence in U.S. Health Care (5-03-19)
- Nursing in the Philippines – Wikipedia
- History of Philippine RNs in the United States – Wikipedia
- USCIS Updates Guidance for Schedule A Occupations (12-02-20)
- USCIS Policy Memo: Adjudication of H-1B Petitions for Nursing Occupations (2-18-15)
- Nursing Workforce Spikes Despite Projected U.S. Shortage (7-17-14)
- Immigration Restrictions and America’s Growing Healthcare Needs (November 2012)
- USCIS: Guidance for Schedule A Blanket Labor Certifications (2-14-06)
- Revised USCIS Memo: Processing of Schedule A Petitions Under PERM (9-23-05)
- USCIS Memo: Processing of Schedule A Petitions Under PERM (6-15-05)
- Hearing Before the Senate Immigration Subcommittee: Rural and Urban Healthcare Needs (5-22-01)
- Carl Shusterman’s Testimony Before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration (5-22-01)
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
- American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)
- American Nurses Association (ANA)
- National League for Nursing (NLN)
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.