Green Card for Nurses: Your Helpful Guide
American healthcare facilities need qualified international nurses to meet growing patient care demands. But before relocating to the United States to practice nursing, foreign nurses will need an immigrant visa, also known as a green card.
Overview of Requirements
Before applying for an immigrant visa, nurses coming to the US will be required to:
- Provide proof of nursing credentials in their country of origin
- Earn certification from a US commission verifying education and language proficiency
- Secure an employment opportunity from a reputable US healthcare facility or international nursing staffing agency like Health Carousel International
Qualifications Required of a Professional Nurse
Licensed in the Country of Nursing Education
Nurses applying for a US visa will be expected to have completed nursing education in their home country. Educational criteria can vary greatly from country to country. Some may require a full bachelor’s degree while others may offer a hospital study program in which nurses can earn a diploma.
There’s no standard nursing degree requirement. All that’s expected is that the nurse has completed the required education in their home country.
U.S. Commission Approval or U.S. State Licensure of Nurse
Green card applicants will either need a certificate from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) or a license to practice professional nursing in the state in which they intend to work.
The CGFNS Certification process consists of three parts:
- Credentials review
- Qualifying examination
- English language proficiency test
A state nursing license issued by a corresponding state board of nursing can be earned by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). However, most states require a CGFNS certificate or equivalent eligibility qualifications before the NCLEX can be taken.
International nurses will be required to complete a screening program in accordance with US immigration law. The VisaScreen program, in particular, is offered by the International Commission on Healthcare Professionals to verify and evaluate nursing credentials in compliance with government eligibility requirements.
It’s recommended that international nurses apply for the VisaScreen program as soon as their I-140 Petition has been filed. Earning a VisaScreen Certificate consists of three parts:
- Educational review
- Licensure review
- English language proficiency assessment
Applicants will need to pass a review to determine that their education meets all requirements for the nursing profession and is sufficiently similar to that of an American nursing student seeking their license. Educational requirements include:
- Completion of senior secondary education separate from professional education
- Graduation from a government-approved nursing program two years or longer
- Completion of minimum clinical or classroom hours in specific areas
Any current or past nursing licenses will be evaluated. Validation will be needed from the institution that issued the license to confirm that the applicant has completed all requirements in accordance with US immigration law.
English Language Proficiency Assessment
Finally, VisaScreen applicants will need to earn a passing score on an English language proficiency assessment. The three testing services approved by the US Department of Education and US Department of Health and Human Services are:
- Educational Testing Service (ETS)
- Test of English in International Communication (TOEIC)
- And International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
Immigration Procedures for a Professional Nurse
Applying to USCIS for an Immigrant Visa (Form I-140 with ETA 9089)
The first immigration procedure you’ll need to follow is filing an immigrant visa petition, known as Form I-140, along with a duplicate ETA 9089 with the USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over the intended employment place. Since a registered nurse is considered a Schedule A occupation with high demand, no Labor Certification approval is required. Employers seeking labor certification for a registered nurse will submit the required documents when they file an application with the USCIS.
Petitioners should submit the following documents when filing ETA 9089:
- Completed Form ETA 9089 signed by an authorized official
- Prevailing wage determination issued by the Department of Labor
- Signed copy of job posting
When you work with Health Carousel International, the green card application process is easy. Our legal team will file Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) on your behalf. This form permits you, your spouse, and minor children to hold green cards that allow you to work and study in the United States with Legal Permanent Resident Status.
Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
Green card applicants living outside of the United States will need to complete consular processing. This involves an interview at the US consulate in the nurse’s home country within six to nine months following submission of Form I-140 visa petition with the National Visa Center. Applicants already living in the US can process their application through Adjustment of Status to change their nonimmigrant immigration status to a permanent resident, or green card holder.
Health Carousel International Can Help
At Health Carousel International, we take pride in connecting talented international nurses with fulfilling nursing careers in the United States. Our staffing agency will support nurses through every step of the immigration and relocation process, including:
- Gathering required documents for passports and visas
- Legal and immigration fees
- Assistance with travel, housing, transportation, and family arrangements
- Pre-arrival training program and paid orientation
Whatever your version of the American Dream is, Health Carousel International can help make it a reality.
Can nurses get a green card easily?
American healthcare providers are highly motivated to recruit international nurses. A green card for a foreign national nurse is generally processed faster than those for other occupations.
How long does it take to get a green card for RN?
The entire green card and lawful permanent resident process can take anywhere from twelve to eighteen months for a registered nurse.