Law Offices of Rajiv S. Khanna, P.C.
5225 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22205 USA Ph: (703) 908-4800
Arlington, VA 22205 USA Ph: (703) 908-4800
6 Byers Street
Staunton, VA 24401 USA Ph: (540) 886-6321
Staunton, VA 24401 USA Ph: (540) 886-6321
A registered nurse, who wishes to apply for Immigrant Visa (Permanent Resident Status) coming to the United States to perform labor in covered health care occupations (other than as a physician) requires:
The nurse need have only the minimum requirement of nursing studies in his/her own country. Some countries offer a full, five-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at a university; others offer a Graduate Nurse degree after two or three years of nursing study. Still 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 of nursing study. Note that the Philippines now requires a full, four- year university degree leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Junior or community colleges in the United States offer a two-year diploma course in nursing. Some prospective nurses may rather complete the two-year course in the United States than a full degree program in the home country.
The basic requirements are either the 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).
Applicants who wish to obtain an occupational visa to practice as nurses in the United States must present a CGFNS Certificate or a passing score on the NCLEX-RN examination to provide proof of their nursing knowledge.
In order to obtain a CGFNS Certificate, applicants must successfully complete CGFNS' Certification Program, a three-part program, comprised of a credentials review, a one-day Qualifying Exam of nursing knowledge and an English language proficiency exam. Upon successful completion of all three elements of the program, applicants are awarded a CGFNS Certificate. Most states require the CGFNS Certificate 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 the CGFNS.
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).
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 the application as soon as the I-140 Petition has been filed with USCIS. You'll need to present the certificate when you go for the final visa interview at the consulate. VisaScreen enables healthcare professionals to meet legal requirements by verifying and evaluating their credentials to ensure compliance with the government's minimum eligibility standards. 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. To satisfy all federal screening requirements, a VisaScreen evaluation must include:
The educational review ensures that the applicant's education meets all applicable, statutory, and regulatory requirements for the profession the applicant intends to practice, 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.
The licensure review evaluates initial and 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.
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. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. Currently, to fulfill this requirement, applicants must take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Test of Written English (TWE) and Test of Spoken English (TSE), or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) parts 1-4, which include an Oral Interview and a Speaking Test. 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;
b) Language of instruction was English; and
c) Language of textbooks was English.
Since U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has determined the occupation of registered nurse as a Schedule A occupation, there is no need of Labor certification approval to file an immigrant visa petition. The first step of the immigration process is the filing and approval of Immigrant visa petition (I-140) along with 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.
The petitioner should complete and submit following documents.
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 copy of annual report, federal tax return, or audited financial statement if employees number fewer than 100).
2. Beneficiary (registered nurse) should have a full-unrestricted permanent license to practice nursing in the state of intended employment, 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 last date of the removal of the job posting notice i.e. the notice must be posted between 30 and 180 days prior to filing the I-140 petition.
If the Nurse applicant is already in the United States, there are two choices, processing through Adjustment of Status (AOS) OR through Consular Processing (CP). Both processes have their pros and cons.
If the Nurse applicant is outside the US, they have to go through CP. This involves a brief interview at the US consulate in their home country. This process is usually completed within 6-9 months upon the priority date (date when the I-140 petition is received at the USCIS upon filing) 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 country of birth of the applicant or his/her spouse for the category under which the petition is filed are current or have reached the priority date of the applicant. Most of such cases may qualify under employment third preference category. You can review the current dates on our web site at through the visa bulletin.
Review the dates in the Visa Bulletin under Employment Based Categories, category three for the specific country in which 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 should be needed.