Green Card for Nurses

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Green Card for Nurses

Overview of Requirements

A registered nurse who is coming to the United States to perform labor in covered health care occupations (other than as a physician) and wishes to apply for Immigrant Visa (Permanent Resident Status) is required to have the following: 

  • Credentials showing that the applicant is a Registered Nurse licensed to practice in his/her country; 
  • Certification from a U.S. commission that the nurse meets VisaScreen educational, licensure, and English language proficiency requirements or nurse licensure requirements of the U.S. state where the nurse will work; and
  • A job offer from a financially capable U.S health care facility willing to file an Immigrant Visa petition with USCIS on behalf of the nurse;

Qualifications Required of a Professional Nurse

A.        Licensed in the Country of Nursing Education

The nurse must meet the minimum requirement of nursing studies in his/her own country.  Universities in some countries offer a full, five-year Bachelor of Science degree for completing nursing programs, while other countries offer a Graduate nursing degree after two or three years of study.  In addition, other countries may offer a nursing course through a hospital study program that leads to a diploma.  There is no requirement of any specific degree.  The only requirement is that the nurse is licensed in the country where he/she has completed her nursing education.  Some nurses may prefer to complete the two-year course in the United States than a full degree program in their home country.

Information for Nurses from India

Nurses from India should consult the Indian Nursing Council for specific information:

B.       U.S. Commission Approval or U.S. state licensure of nurse

An applicant must attain either a Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) certificate or a full and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the state of intended employment (NCLEX). 

The CGFNS' Certification Program is a three-part program comprised of a credentials review, a one-day Qualifying Exam of nursing knowledge, and an English language proficiency exam to obtain a CGFNS Certificate.  Upon successful completion of all three elements of the program, applicants are awarded a CGFNS Certificate.  Most states require CGFNS Certification from nurses educated abroad before they can take the NCLEX examination.

Before the immigrant visa or Adjustment of Status is granted, the VisaScreen certificate or certified statement must be obtained from the International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), which is a part of CGFNS.  

VisaScreen Certificate

U.S. immigration law requires that nurses complete a screening program.  VisaScreen is a screening program offered by International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP - in association with CGFNS).  The VisaScreen program is comprised of an educational analysis, licensure validation, English language proficiency assessment, and, an exam of nursing knowledge.

VisaScreen enables healthcare professionals to meet this screening program requirement by verifying and evaluating their credentials to ensure compliance with the government's minimum eligibility standards.  The waiting period required for receipt of the VisaScreen certificate varies, but we suggest proceeding with an application as soon as the I-140 Petition has been filed with USCIS.  Applicants will need to present the certificate at the time of their final visa interview at the consulate.  Applicants who receive a VisaScreen Certificate can present it to a consular office, or in the case of Adjustment of Status, the Attorney General, as part of a visa application.

1)      Educational Review

The educational review ensures that the applicant's education meets all applicable, statutory, and regulatory requirements for the intended profession, and is comparable to that of a U.S. graduate seeking licensure.

In order to meet the educational requirements for the VisaScreen program, applicants must have:

a)  successfully completed a senior secondary school education that is separate from their professional education;
b)  graduated from a government-approved, professional healthcare program of at least two years in length; and
c)  successfully completed a minimum number of clock and/or credit hours in specific theoretical and clinical areas during their professional program.

2)      Licensure Review

The licensure review evaluates all current and past licenses.  Validations provided directly to ICHP by the issuing/validating institution, affirm that the applicant has completed all practice requirements and that the registration/licensure has no encumbrances.

3)      English Language Proficiency Assessment

The English language proficiency assessment confirms that the applicant has demonstrated the required competency in oral and written English by submitting passing scores on tests approved by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  HHS has specifically identified three appropriate testing services as contemplated by the statutory requirements: The three testing services are the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the Test of English in International Communication (TOEIC) Service International, and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

To fulfill this requirement, applicants must take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the Test of Written English (TWE) and Test of Spoken English (TSE).  Registered nurses requiring a baccalaureate degree must obtain one of the following combinations of scores:

(a)    ETS: TOEFL: Paper-Based 540, Computer-Based 207; TWE: 4.0; TSE: 50;

(b)   TOEIC Service International: TOEIC: 725; plus TWE: 4.0 and TSE: 50; or

(c)    IELTS: 6.5 overall with a spoken band score of 7.0.

Certain applicants may be exempt from the English language proficiency requirement if they meet all of the following criteria:

a)      Country of professional education was Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom or the United States (countries not specifically enumerated do not qualify for this exemption);

b)      Language of instruction was English; and

c)      Language of textbooks was English.

Additionally, applicants graduating from an entry-level program accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) are exempt from the English language proficiency-testing requirement.

Immigration Procedures for a Professional Nurse

Step I:  Applying to USCIS for an Immigrant Visa (Form I-140 with ETA 9089)

Labor Certification approval is not a necessary prerequisite for filing an Immigrant Visa Petition because U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) classifies “registered nurse” as a Schedule A occupation.  The first step of the immigration process is the filing and approval of an Immigrant Visa Petition (I-140) along with a duplicate ETA 9089 directly with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over the place of employment.  Unlike the filing requirements of Labor Certification under other PERM provisions, an employer seeking a labor certification for a professional nurse is required to submit the applicable documentation when the employer files the application with the appropriate USCIS office.

Requirements for Filing ETA 9089

 The petitioner should complete and submit following documents:

  • A completed Form ETA-9089, in duplicate, signed in the original by an authorized official of the petitioning organization, the alien, and the representative, if any;
  • A Wage Determination issued by DOL for the proposed area where the job opportunity exists;
  • A signed copy of the job posting notice, which must have been posted for ten CONSECUTIVE BUSINESS days in a conspicuous place in the employer’s premises at the place of intended employment; and
  • Copies of any and all in-house media, whether electronic or print, in accordance with the normal procedures used for the recruitment of positions similar to the position specified in the Form 9089 in the employer's organization.

Requirements for Filing I-140

1. Petitioner must provide proof of ability to pay the wage (a letter from a financial officer of an employer with 100 or more employees, or copies of annual reports, federal tax returns, or audited financial statements if less than 100 employees). 

2Beneficiary (registered nurse) should have a full-unrestricted and permanent license to practice nursing in the state of intended employment, and CGFNS certificate issued by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools, or evidence that the alien has passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

3.  The I-140 petition cannot be filed until 30 days have passed after the job posting notice is removed.  In other words, the notice must be posted between 30 and 180 days prior to filing the I-140 petition.

For more information about Form I-140, click here.

Step 2: Adjustment of Status OR Consular Processing 

If the applicant is already in the United States, then he/she can process his/her application through Adjustment of Status OR through Consular Processing (CP).  Both processes have their pros and cons.

For more information about the Adjustment of Status process, click here.  For more information about Consular Processing, click here.

Applicants have to go through CP if they are outside the United States.  This process involves a brief interview at the U.S. consulate in their home country, and is usually completed within six to nine months of the priority date (date when the I-140 petition is received at USCIS) becoming current as per the Visa Bulletin.  Note that the second step can be filed only if the cut-off dates (visa numbers availability) for the applicant’s (or applicant’s spouse’s) country of birth for the category under which the petition is filed are current or have reached the priority date of the applicant.  Most of these cases may qualify under employment third preference category.

You can review the current dates on our website through this Visa Bulletin link.  Review the dates in the Visa Bulletin under employment-based third preference category for the specific country where either the nurse or his/her spouse was born.  You can also read further about the concept of Priority Dates in the Visa Bulletin.  Feel free to contact us if any clarifications or further information are needed.



Is it possible to apply 2 visa at a time but with different sponsor. Back in my hometown my agency filed eb3 for me and i am still waiting for my priorty date to be current,most probably that would be like 3-5yrs. if i get lucky, can another employer sponsor me for working visa even though i have approved and pending I-140 so that i wouldnt buy out my agency...

Tosh, yes, you can apply for green card through multiple employers, but, please discuss details with the lawyers who process your case.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.

I had NCLEX exam last May, passed and received RN from Georgia board of Nursing, now I am planning to move to US and work as an RN, what is the process?

Most nurses come here after their green card is approved through the petition of an employer in the USA, Meseret.

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Hi Please help me
I'm nurse in Iran and I wanna migrate to usa
Now my question is if I take cgfns exam and be succed then I go for visa screening
if I'll take visa screen certification I've heard that this certification expired for 5 years
Does it mean I can come to usa with this certification for Rn exam and stay there 5 years?
My next question is if I get Rn how I can get green card?
Thanks Please answer me

Saros, passing an exam does not give you the right to stay in the USA. You need a visa (not visa screen) for that.

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I have a second degree in Nursing from the University of Alberta, Canada with a 6 yr continuous employment in Psychiatry through AHS. Please what are the procedure to apply either through the EB2 or EB3? Please do you assist in job placement? I am a naturalized Canadian.
Please your input would be appreciated. Thanks.

Ola, there can be no RN green card without an employment in the USA and clearing of the required exams/licenses in the USA. As to EB-2, that would depend upon whether or not the job requires 5 years of experience after Bachelor;'s degree (or a Master's degree).

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.

I am an abandoned nurse following the 2008 recession. My priority date is 12TH NOV, 2008. I have found a new employer who filed another 1-140 for EB-3 visa since 28TH of July 2016 on my behalf. A copy of the receipt notice was sent to me by my agency. I have tried to track my case status using my receipt number but I keep seeing the same information acknowledging the receipt of my petition. Right now I do not know the status of my case which was filed since 28TH of July 2016.

Based on the above how much longer do you think I still have to wait to get approval.I also discovered that though I got approval for my previous I-140 filed in 2008, my case status did not change till now, it is still the same acknowledgement information that is online since 2008 that is still on the display.


First, I will need to know the country of your birth. Usually, your lawyers should be able to update you on your status.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.

Hello! So glad to have found this page.

I am an RN from the Philippines with 6 years work experience as an ER Nurse. I have passed the NCLEX-RN New York, IELTS exam and I have a valid Visa Screen Certificate. I am visiting New York under B2 visa. I sent my resume to a Nurse Staffing Agency and they told me I can qualify for EB2.

Question is, can I have that transition (the whole process) from B2 to EB2 without me having to leave the USA and go back to my home country? And from the start of the process, how long would it take before I can legally work in the USA? Is it possible to work as a nurse while waiting for the USCIS's decision of my I-485?

Could you please give me an idea of what I am getting myself into? Thanks ahead.

In my opinion, it is a bad idea to convert from a B visa to green card. It can raise serious issues about whether or not there was a misuse of the B visa.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.

Hi im a RN petitioned by my agency and with greencard can i buy out the contract even i did not start work (no salary )with my employer because of so many delays and problems . to get license to the state i will be assigned ? will i have problems in the future ? applying citizenship if i will search new employer

This is a very difficult question to answer without a discussion. I strongly recommend you consult a lawyer.

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Am an RN in the USA with unrestricted licence, work permit expired, charged with marriage fraud, on removal peoceedind since 2 years now, court appearance date still pending and one month more to obtain BSN.
Any advise? What can be done.
Thank you.

This is not a quick response situation, Mona. Marriage fraud has very serious implications. You will need to discuss the situation with your immigration court lawyers.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.

Hi. I was Working as a nurse on h1b in nj, used my 6yr h1b and employer agreed to sponsor me a greencard and while we were waiting for prevailing wage my h1b visa expired last nov 2016 - filed for b2 visa temporarily so i can still be on status- now on the process I-140 for eb3 filed also Ac 21 so it would be concurrent from my h1b before.
Question i worked for 6yrs in nj under h1b- i dont have ielts took my rnnclex in california and reciprocated to nj
Do i still need to take ielts and visa screen for my eb3 even though ive been in us for 6yrs?
Please advise tnx


I just become the RN for state of CA and currently on H4 Ead visa. Can you guide me how do I find the employer or agency that can help me to get the H1B jobs for RN? As I already have H4 ead for now, I can start working asap.

Sorry, we assist with the visa papers, npt placements or job search.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.


I am applying for an immigrant visa (Eb3). I am a registered nurse in the philippines. I have passed both CGFNS and NCLEX . However, my nclex license is in the state of vermont and currently inactive. Unfortunately, I cannot renew my vermont license because I need a SSN to renew it. Thus, I cannot endorse an inactive license to the state of Illinois (where my employer is based). I am now processing for my visa in NVC and I am worried about my license. Will this affect my application?

I have not looked into this issue specifically, but I am aware of the VT inactivation. I think you should first contact Illinois to see what the process of activation or reentry without an SSN is.

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I have an inquiry about the section that says:

Additionally, applicants graduating from an entry-level program accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) are exempt from the English language proficiency-testing requirement.

If this is true then the program I graduated from is CCNE accredited.
Is this included in the USCIS law if yes so that I check with the CGFNS how to proceed
Because in the visa screen section they don't mention being graduate of an accredited school as an exempt
Please advise it is my only missing requirement

For VisaScreen --
Applicants educated in specific countries where English is both the native language and the language of classroom and textbook instruction (see below) are exempt from having to take an English language proficiency examination. For you to be exempt, you must meet BOTH of the following criteria:
1. your country of entry-level education was in United Kingdom (England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland), Australia, Canada (except for Quebec), New Zealand, Ireland or the United States, and
2. the language of textbooks and verbal instruction of your education was English.

Exemption is not automatic because you meet all the criteria, CGFNS/ICHP must review your educational documents to determine exemption. IF CGFNS/ICHP determines you are not exempt, you will receive a letter.

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if I will have my final interview and I don't have my visa screen certificate yet , are they going to issue my US Visa?

What kind of Visa?

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