ARE THERE ANY ADVANTAGES TO IMMIGRATING TO THE UNITED STATES IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED NURSE?
Yes. Registered Nurses are exempt from the labor certification requirement. This is because the United States Department of Labor has determined there are not sufficient American workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available for the occupation of professional nurse. Nurses are considered professionals in a “Schedule A occupation.” Therefore, the immigration process for nurses is significantly less involved than for most others immigrating through their employment.
IS A BACHELORS’ DEGREE REQUIRED TO BE A NURSE?
Not necessarily. The course of study can be a diploma, certificate, baccalaureate degree, or associate’s degree signifying successful completion of a program for professional nurses. In California, an AA degree or equivalence satisfies the educational requirements for becoming a Registered Nurse.
OTHER THAN THE EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS, WHAT ELSE IS NEEDED TO BE AN RN IN THE UNITED STATES?
In addition to having a degree or diploma from a nursing school in a foreign country or from a nursing school in the United States, a foreign registered nurse (RN) must also have one of the following three items:
• A full and unrestricted professional nursing license in the state of intended employment, or
• Certificate of passing the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) exam , OR
• Certificate of passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and a letter that the nurse cannot get a state nursing license due to lack of a social security number.
In addition, a foreign nurse seeking an employment-based green card must have an employer sponsor, such as a hospital that is willing to file a petition on behalf of the nurse.
WHAT IS THE CGFNS EXAMINATION?
The CGFNS exam of nursing knowledge is offered several times a year at more
than 50 locations internationally. Divided into two parts with a total of 260 questions, the exam measures an applicant’s nursing knowledge and is based on what nurses must know and do when they practice nursing in the United States. The traditional clinical areas of the nursing practice are all covered by the CGFNS. These areas include nursing care of adults, nursing care of children, maternal/infant nursing, psychiatric/mental health nursing, and community health nursing. The purpose of the CGFNS exam is to test the applicant for the same level of understanding of nursing with various client groups, in various settings, as recent graduates of U.S. nursing schools. The web site www.cgfns.org provides a list of testing sites as well as other useful information.
WHAT IS THE NCLEX-RN EXAM?
The NCLEX-RN exam is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The practice of nursing in the United States is regulated by the nurse licensing authorities within each state. . Every state requires a candidate for nurse licensure to pass an examination that measures the competencies needed to perform safely and effectively as a newly licensed, entry-level registered nurse. At present, the NCLEX-RN is only being administered in the United States, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands.
WHAT IS THE VISA SCREEN?
The VisaScreen certificate verifies that the alien’s education, training, license, and experience are comparable to those of an American health care worker of the same type.
The health care certification/VisaScreen also verifies that all of the foreign nurse’s credentials are authentic. The applicable regulations (8 CFR §212.15) state that before an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa or change of status or adjustment of status is granted, the VisaScreen certificate or certified statement must be obtained from the International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), a part of the CGFNS.
Although the health care certification/VisaScreen is not required upon filing of the I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker) or I-485 (Application for Adjustment of Status), it must be submitted before the alien’s application for status as a lawful permanent resident can be approved.