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.



Dear Mr. Khanna,
I am with student Visa (F1). I graduated from nursing program ADN (associate degree in nursing) in California. I worked at nursing home for about 10 months with opt last year. Currently I am back into university to get BSN (bachelor science of nursing). my question is... Am I eligible for EB3 at this moment if I find the sponsership even if I did not finish BSN degree? I would appriciate your response. Thanks.

Hello, I have ADN completed in US and RN license. I have filed I 140 and I 485. My question is do I need to complete Visa Screen application in order to get a green card even though I have US based degree and license. Thank you

Hi atty,

I am an RN in both the Philippines and the United States. I have a masters degree 2 years and BSN 4 years which is comparable to that of the US. I also have more than 4 years of nursing experience and my employer is willing to petition me under nurse supervisor. Am I qualified for schedule a nurses under EB2? The EB2 in Philippines is current. how long will it take to get my GC? Thanks.

Carla, I think you have sent an email to our office as well, because the same question was discussed by one of our team members with me yesterday. I am sure they have given you my answer. EB-2 is possible as long as the Master's degree is equivalent to a Master's US degree AND the job requires that level of education and/or experience.

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  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.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

Hi, i have a few questions. My family and I were here on a green card as I am an RN from the Philippines and been working more than 1 year with my agency. I wanted to buy out my contract as we wanted to move to another state in the US. If I buy my contract with my agency, will I be having a problem with my citizenship? Please advise. Thank you.

I see no problem with an RN leaving an employer one year after getting her green card, Marie.

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  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.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

1. Hi, I am a registered nurse in the philippines with regular 4years exp and counting in a hospital, and I have a probable employer that is willing to sponsor for my eb2 visa. I'm just wondering if I am eligible now to process my eb2 visa with a lawyer or do I still have to wait for my exp to reach 5years before i can start processing?
2. Prior to my 4years exp. I work in a hospital with 6mos exp as contractual, and another 6mos exp as nurse reliever from my current hospital. My question is can I add these experience for my eb2 application?

I have a nurse currently working for me. her EAD expires early July. She is unable to work until middle of August and that is only if she is accepted into school. Can she file for a green card or what are her options. Need to figure out an answer before July. She is from China.

Good day,

Thank you for your great service and support. After a long search, this is by far the most informative website.

I am planning to study Nursing in the United States and, upon completion, pursue permanent residency.

Here, it is state: "Some nurses may prefer to complete the two-year course in the United States than a full degree program in their home country." - I am assuming this two-year course is a ADN, correct. Is an ADN sufficient to be considered for EB-3 / H-1B? Isn't is mandatory to hold at least a BDN?
Based on your experience, do you think this extension to Nurses will be still valid in the next 2-3 years?

Thank you in advance,


This is Sunil George working here in California USA on H-1B visa. My wife is a registered nurse from India with BSc Nursing graduation. She is now preparing for her RN license examination for California Board of Registered Nursing.

Please could you give an advice that can we file for 'Schedule A' green card for nurses once she passed the license.

Does there any chance to get the green card early in 'Schedule A' processing.

My employer stated my PERM process in EB-2 category.

Thanks in Advance,


Hi Sir,

This is Sunil George currently working in USA with H1B Visa. My wife also here in USA with me on H4 Visa. We are from Indian origin

My Wife is a Nursing Graduate from India and now is appearing for Registered Nursing License for Board of Registered Nursing, California.

Once she successfully completes her RN License and able to find a employer to sponsor for green card can she apply for Schedule A green card.

While I gone through the USCIS site about this 'Schedule A' visa, I reached the following page

It has mentioned following details about the Immigration process

Immigrant petitions:

For immigrant petitions, there is a two-step process:

Step 1: Generally, the Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, is first filed by an employer on behalf of the prospective foreign national worker. In adjudicating the I-140 petition, USCIS reviews all eligibility requirements. This review includes examination of the beneficiary’s educational qualifications.

Step 2: If the foreign national worker is in the United States, he or she may file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. It is only upon the filing of an I-485 that the health care worker certification is required and will be used to determine admissibility for adjustment of status.

If the foreign national worker is living outside the United States or living in the United States, but chooses to apply for an immigrant visa abroad, USCIS will send the approved petition to the Department of State’s (DOS) National Visa Center (NVC), where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. The foreign national worker must present the health care certification to the consular officer at the time of visa issuance.

In this the step 2 is confusing me

It says that if the foreign national worker is in the United States then they can immediately file for Form I-485 but did not mentioned about the priority date.

But it clearly mentioned about the priority date for the case when the applicant is outside USA.

This information is confusing me, since most of the RN will fall into either EB2 or EB3 category.

And for the case of Indian Origin the priority date for these 2 category in in 2004.

Could you help me to understand this in correct way, does we can apply for I-485 immediately since she is legally present in USA, and avail the EAD and AP and start work, or does she need to wait till the Priority date become current as who stays outside USA.

Every help should be appreciated, since to get a sponsorship it is important to know how soon she can work with them. I had checked with some hospitals and ask us to get a clear legal clarification on this to confirm whether they are able to sponsor or not.



Sunil ji, your confusion is understandable. Nurses, Physical Therapists - Schedule - A occupations HAVE to wait for their priority dates to become current before they can file their AOS/I-485. Being in the USA does not take away the requirement of priority dates having to be current.

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

I am a nursing student in the US. I am doing my RN course currently and will be done with it soon. Since it is a community college, I am planning to transfer to a 4 year college right after, to finish BSN. Would you say I should apply for green card after RN or should I wait till I finish BSN? Which of them has higher chances?
PS: By RN, I mean being Registered Nurse only after Associates degree.

Thank you

Hi Sir,
This is Kary, from China but study in California under F1 visa. I attended high school in the states and am currently working on my ADN in a junior college. Im struggling if I should continue BSN after ADN completion or get a job and obtain green card, then continue seeking for a BSN degree.
If I get a job right after my ADN completion, how long would it take for me to get a green card? And which immirgtation category would it be for me?

Great thanks

Kary, green card under EB-3 can take a long time for Mainland China-born people. See the visa bulletin.

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

Hi. So my mum is a registered nurse and she's trying to get her green card. We were to get a EA Card with tourist visa. But she wasn't able to present the USCIS a job letter and her Visa screening result in the given date, so we are considered out-of-status. My question is, will me staying here in the US affect my 10 years tourist visa?. Or will I able to stay here with the EA card we were able to get without causing any trouble with my tourist visa

I am not sure what EA card means. Please contact a lawyer ASAP to make sure you dont have an unlawful presence problem that can cause mandatory denial of green card for 3 or 10 years.

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

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.

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

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.

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


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.