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Registered Nurse Immigration

Law Offices of Yu & Associates

How Can Foreign Nurses Apply for Immigration Visas?

Due to a serious shortage of professional nurses in the U.S., foreign registered nurses are considered as "Schedule A" professionals, which includes registered nurses and physical therapists. Schedule A registered nurses can benefit from immigration visa petitions submitted directly to USCIS by their employers without first needing to file a labor certification application with the Department of Labor.

Who Can Qualify As a Schedule A Nurse?

Foreign nurses must possess the following qualifications in order to apply for an immigration visa under the Schedule A category:

  1. A diploma in nursing and an unrestricted nursing license from the nurse's home country;
  2. U.S. employment sponsorship;
  3. License/certification:
    1. A full, unrestricted permanent state license to practice nursing in the state of intended employment in the U.S. The state nursing board requires passage of the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN); or
    2. A CGFNS certificate issued by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools. The CGFNS certification program consists of three parts: a review of foreign nursing credentials; the CGFNS qualifying exam; and an English language proficiency test (TOEFL, TOEIC and IELTS).

Who Can Submit an Immigration Petition for a Foreign Nurse?

The U.S. sponsoring employer, such as a hospital or healthcare institution, should submit the immigration petition.

What is the Procedure for the Nurse Immigration Application?

There are two procedures to handle nurse immigration cases depending on where the foreign nurse resides: If the nurse candidate is already in the U.S. legally, the immigration petition and the adjustment of status application including the employment authorization petition can be filed at the same time. The nurse can work for the sponsoring employer after receiving an employment authorization card. If the nurse lives outside the U.S., then she/he must apply for an immigration visa through the consular processing procedure after the immigration petition is approved.

When Do I Need to Obtain a VisaScreen Certificate?

Foreign nurses shall submit their education credentials and their nursing licenses to the CGFNS for evaluation to be qualified for VisaScreen Certification. The VisaScreen Certification process normally consists of three parts: education credential review, English language proficiency testing, and the passage of the CGFNS and NCLEX-RN examinations. The nurse is required to obtain a VisaScreen Certificate before undergoing consular processing or filing for adjustment of status. A VisaScreen Certificate does not need to be obtained when filing an I-140 immigration petition; however, it must be obtained prior to obtaining permanent residency approval.


The above is intended as a general introduction and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion for your particular case. Please contact the Law Offices of Yu & Associates with any specific questions. Tel: (301) 838-8986, Email:, Address: 110 N Washington St., Suite 328E, Rockville, MD 20850.

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