Whether you are a nurse, nurse practitioner, or other health care professional, immigrating to the U.S. and working for a health care facility can be an extremely rewarding and enriching experience. Presently, shortages exist in the U.S. health care industry and the opportunities for RNs is virtually limitless.

In a recent advisory memorandum, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) released figures that the nursing shortage in the U.S. will escalate from over 125,000 vacant nursing positions in the U.S. in 2003 to over 700,000 vacant positions in the year 2020. If you are a nurse or other health care professional, you may be able to offer your skills and be part of America’s solution to the burgeoning health care deficit.

Several opportunities exist in which health care professionals can immigrate to the U.S. Certain advanced practitioners with advanced practice skill sets and certifications, management skills, or practice in a focused nursing specialty area may be able to enter the U.S. on the H-1B Visa, while concurrently seeking their long term aspirations of becoming a permanent U.S. resident.

Other possibilities for registered nurses exist and they may enter the U.S. directly as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or Green Card status. A benefit afforded to the nursing profession is that presently, the Petition for Alien Worker and U.S. Department of Labor classifies nursing as what is referred to as a “Schedule A” occupation. The advantage is that the oftentimes lengthy and expensive Labor Certification Process can be circumvented. LPR status also allows a nurse and his or her family to permanently reside in the U.S. through a sponsor after meeting certain requirements. these requirements generally include, an evaluation of the nurse’s academic and professional credentials and license by a designated credentialing organization (such as the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools – CGFNS), and successful completion of an English language proficiency test.

Although quite limited in scope, the H-1C Visa allows a nurse to enter the U.S. for temporary employment to work in hospitals or for employers that are pre-designated by the U.S. as having a special need for nurses that is greater than that of the general need across the U.S. However, this category is limited to only 500 nurses each year for the pre-qualified hospitals or health care facilities and thus, access and relevance to the H-1C visa can be limited.

Registered Nurses who are already present in the U.S. may now file for LPR status on behalf of his or her employer/sponsor and receive work authorization within approximately 90 – 120 days of filing the Petition for Alien Worker and Adjustment of Status application.

Moreover, nurses must meet and satisfy the requirements of the Petition for Alien Worker and State Board of Nursing in the state for which he or she intends to practice nursing. Additional limiting criteria may vary among the state’s department of professional regulation.

The Law Office of Paul B. Christensen, P.A. consults with nurses, health care facilities and administrators, and contracting agencies, to discuss individualized case strategies, determine the best options, and provide guidance on the documentation required to file in order to obtain the status most suitable between the nurse and health care facility.

Our law office can also outlines mission-critical pre-filing techniques and strategies that will help to assure prompt, efficient filing and processing. We can also assist you in the Visascreen requirements and procedures, the services of the CGFNS, state licensure and the challenges associated with the TOEFL, TWE, TSE, TOEIC, and IELTS English language proficiency exams. When appropriate, we can help with submitting the applications and documentation to the CGFNS (including diligent follow-up), and submitting forms for the visa to the consulate or with the BCIS for temporary work status or LPR status in the U.S.


CIS: Guidance for Schedule A Blanket Labor Certifications (2-14-2006)

Frequently Asked Questions on the Extension of Deadline for Presentation of VisaScreen Certificate by Certain Canadian and Mexican TN Health Professionals (07-02/2004)

USCIS Guidance Memo Describes New Schedule A Requirements

A June 15, 2005, memo  from William Yates instructs the field regarding the documentation acceptable for a Schedule A immigrant petition both before and after March 28, 2005, the effective date of the PERM regulation. Changes, retroactive to March 28, from prior documentation requirements are included, as are instructions regarding posting requirements.

State Nursing Requirements:  Endorsement, CGFNS, NCLEX, and SSN requirements by state.

USCIS issues its Nursing Hiring Guide  for interested prospective health care faciliies and health care professionals (December 23, 2003)

Final Regulation on NIV Certification of Foreign Health Care Workers (September 22, 2003)

DHS Announces One-Year Discretionary Waiver of the New Certification Requirements for Certain Non-Immigrant Health Care Workers

On July 29, 2003, the DHS announced that it will exercise its discretion to waive the certification requirement for non-immigrants for a period of one year after the date of publication of the final rule on certifications (See Newsbreak VisaScreen Article Below). The admission, EOS, or COS may not be longer than one year, and the certification must be obtained within that time.

Click here (21Kb) to read the DHS press release in its entirety.
Click here (143Kb) to read the DHS’ FAQ in a question and answer format.

VisaScreen: DHS Releases Final Regulations

July 25, 2003: – The Department of Homeland Security has just released its final VisaScreen regulatory amendment for health care workers. The new regulations will take effect September 23, 2003. – Federal Register Vol. 68, No. 143 Friday, July 25, 2003

CGFNS Begins Posting Roster Lists for Qualifying Exam Online – (html file) CGFNS News Release – May 2, 2003

CGFNS publishes the CGFNS Official Study Guide Fifth Edition (MS Word 21K)

The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) announced the release of their latest publication: the CGFNS Official Study Guide Fifth Edition. The new, fifth edition of the popular study guide contains information, practice tests and resources.

The guide features four practice tests with more than 1,000 test questions and rationales, as well as a CD with special bonus material of three additional practice tests. It also contains the most up-to-date facts on the design, administration and scoring of the CGFNS Qualifying Exam, as well as advice, information and resources.

Liberalization in I-140 Adjudication for Nurses (188K .PDF file) “Adjudication of I-140 Petitions for Schedule-A Nurses Temporarily Unable to Obtain Social Security Cards,” INS Memorandum HQ 70/6.1.3

TOEFL Improves Test of Spoken English

Expanded BCIS H-1B Nursing Memorandum (145K .PDF file) “Guidance on Adjudication of H-1B Petitions Filed on Behalf of Nurses,” INS Memorandum HQISD 70/6.2.8-P

INS Proposed Regulations Regarding VisaScreen for Health Care Workers – (145K .PDF file) Federal Register Vol. 67, No. 198 Friday, October 11, 2002.

CGFNS Plans to Use New English Exams for VisaScreen – (2MB .PDF file) – Federal Register Vol. 67, No. 198 Friday, October 11, 2002.

English Proficiency Exam Options for Nurses:

IELTS – International English language Testing System

TOEIC – Test of English in International Communication

TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language for health care workers

TWE – Test for Written English

Other Resources

National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCLEX)

Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS)


Omstaff Recruitment and Staffing Services

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