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.



I am an RN student in the us graduating in December and will be taking Nclex early next year. Do I qualify to get a green card? If yes how long will the process take? Do I need to have an employer already or could I use the schedule A.?

Penny, Schedule A still requires an employer. Your category will most likely be EB-3. I will be posting a video by next week that explain this process better. Just follow me on social media or check the Visa Bulletin page on our web site.

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  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.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

hello sir...i am registered nurse from india..after that i completed my post graduation in nursing leadership and managemt from canada and also scored 7 bands in ielts with 7 in spoken english...i have B2 visa of us...can i. write enclex in us and get green card

Do you have an employer, Reet ji?

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Dear Sir,
I Have been working as a Registered Nurse In USA for more than a year in PCU. I am on my student Visa currently working as a Nurse on my OPT. I graduated from MBA (HCA) from the university in US. I asked my employer if they can do the sponsorship but they said they are not doing right now. Do you know if I can apply for a Job Visa or Green card in any other ways. Appreciate your help, thanks in advance.

In MOST cases (unless you are EXCEPTIONALLY qualified), you do need an employer's support for RN green card, Angel.

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  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.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

Dear Rajiv
I am on L2 visa with EAD till march 2017. I am registered nurse working in a hospital with EAD. Can the employer file for GC? If so how long will it take for EB2 Schedule A category to get GC. Will it come within my EAD expires ?
Thanks for your help

Ganesh ji, EB-2 dates remain applicable even if you are Schedule A. The biggest delay is the back up in priority dates. Check the Visa Bulletin:

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  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.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

How long will it take to get Green Card on EB2 visa category for an Indian
Bharat Patel

Hi I am a india born Canadian Citizen currently working in US on TN visa my employer is willing to provide me with the documents for green card , I was wondering how long will it take for me to obtain my green card , is the window open or close

Aji, your country of birth controls your green card dates (unless you are married to someone born in a country other than India. This rule is called "cross-changeability.")

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

Bharat ji, the biggest delay is the back up in priority dates. Check the Visa Bulletin:

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

My name is Keyadalal .I have 2 daughters Meha and Dhwani . We are canadian citizen ,but born in India.They are on Student visa and I am working on TN1 visa.My daughters have finished Bachelors of science and they are doing BSN.After that they will give exam for RN.Please adivce me how they can get Green Card.Weather they will get Green Card or not ,please advice me.
Thanks a lot ,
Keya Dalal.

Keya ji, green card times ("priority dates") are determined by country of birth. They will probably have to go through EB-3 category for India.

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

Hi Sir,
I am a RN nurse passed IELTS and approved for I-140 visa and currently working in Kuwait. My case is pending from 2009. Can you advise on the visa processing duration.
How long it will take more or there is any time frame ?

Assuming that the case was filed under EB-3 category (which, it probably was), the case should have been approved. I am not sure what is holding it up.

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


I am from India, currently on student visa in US. I have completed my BSN degree in US, worked one year and now doing my masters here in US. If I have a sponsor who is willing to do my greencard, how long will it take? Which category will I qualify in?

I checked the bulletin and category 1 is current, do I qualify for that as an RN? Or I have to apply with some other category?

You will not qualify for EB-1. Most nurses go through EB-3. Registered Nurses (A full unrestricted permanent license to practice nursing in the state of intended employment and passing either CGFNS or NCLEX-RN) can qualify for EB-3 without going through the PERM process. SOME nurses can qualify for EB-2.

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

I m graduated from Ottawa university. I m RN since 2005, and I m working in ICU.
I like to apply for green card to worK in USA.
Can u help me to apply for the green card.

I just graduated from with a Bachelors degree in Nursing, my application for OPT was denied because I was issued OPT for my previous degree. I would like to know if I can file for H1 or EB3 visa. I got a job and my employers are willing to work with me in getting a work permit.

Beatrice, RN's can get a green card relatively quickly (look at the priority dates in the current Visa Bulletin uneder employment-based EB-3 (MAYBE EB-2, depending upon some variables).

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

I am from China. I graduated from a local nursing program and have my nursing license. Currently on OPT and working at a cardiac floor. OPT expires on 2/8/16. My manager would love to sponsor me. However, we got told by the immigration lawyer that being RN is not qualified for H1B. I personally talked to an immigration lawyer as well and I got the same answer. What they said was lots of RN job entry description doesn't meet the criteria for H1B because they don't require BSN.
Is there a way to obtain H1B or green card?? How long will take for green card process? If they manage help me with my H1B, will I still be able to work after the OPT expiration date?
Thank you for your great help.

Dear, I'm going to the US to study in a College. After that, I intend to apply to a bachelor's degree in nursing. Could I apply to OPT when the course end up? If my employer want to file an immigrant visa petition with USCIS, is it going to be possible? I'm not sure about it because I'm brazilian and my nursing degree is going to be earned at US. Thanks for your help! ;

After two full semesters in a degree program, you should get OPT. Green card is also a good option for RN's, Marcelo.

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