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Nurse Jobs and CareerU.S. Visa Information

U.S. Visa Information

U.S. Visa Information for Foreign or Non-citizen Nurses

Every nurse has a dream to work and settle in U.S. Increase in disease conditions and the need for healthcare centers has created plenty of opportunities for nurses in United States. It’s a complex and challenging process for every non citizen nurse to get entry in U.S healthcare industry.

Immigrant and non-migrant Visa

Before we get into full details, non citizen or foreign nurse (nurse come from outside U.S.) need to know the kind of visa offered for them. Here are two types of U.S. visa, namely immigrant visa and non-migrant visa. Only immigrant visa is given to noncitizens nurses, non-migrant visa isn’t available for foreign nurse. 

Physician can obtain either non-migrant or immigrant visa to work in U.S healthcare, but nurse has to submit certificate from USCIS – approved Credentialing Organization.

What is USCIS? – United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

An organization verifying that nurse has met the minimum requirements for education, training, licensure, experience and English Proficiency.

Certification verifies the following details of noncitizen:

  1. education, training, licensing and experience
  2. the necessary level of competence in oral and written English, ability to speak and write
  3. passed either:  A predictor test or occupation’s actual licensing or certification examination


U.S. Immigration law gives temporary work visas and permanent residence (green card). To work in United States, foreign nurse need to apply for either temporary visa or permanent residence (Green Card).

Non-immigrant Visas for Nurses

Two visa is available = O-1 Visa and H-1B Visa

O-1 Visa

To obtain an O-1 visa, a person must demonstrate extraordinary ability in education, business or science. An O-1 visa can be a good option for medical institutions looking to hire nurses. O-1 Visa requires a significant amount of top-level credentials. Nurse must demonstrate outstanding achievements through awards or publications in medical field


Temporary basis is given for foreign nurses to work in United States for 2 to 3 years. H-1B visa is temporary visa issued by U.S. Immigration, to get temporary work visa, foreign nurse need to have job offer from a U.S. employer to work in a “Specialty Occupation”

Flow Chart to Obtain H-1B Visa

  • Foreign Nurse needs minimum educational qualification recognized by United States Institution (BSC or MSC in Nursing)
  • Need to pass exams (NCLEX-RN) (English proficiency Test)
  • Need to apply for job in U.S.
  • U.S. employer (hospital) conducts interview and Select foreign Nurse for work
  • U.S. employer (hospital or medical clinic) would file an I-129 petition with USCIS. (USCIS – agency decides whether or not to approve the employer’s request for H-1B status for the worker
  • U.S. employer apply and get H-1 B Visa for worker
  • Foreign nurse need to attend interview in U.S. Embassy, embassy verify documents and certification to approve H-1 B visa
  • Once approval of H-1 B visa, foreign nurse can work in United States

(Note: U.S. Immigration issues limited number of H-1B visa every year)

U.S. employer would need to demonstrate that nursing position is in a specialty occupation

USCIS use a four-pronged test for selection of H-1B visa

  • A bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
  • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree


  • Applications for Immigrant Visas 
  • Police Clearances 
  • Birth Certificates 
  • Marriage Certificate, if any 
  • Divorce or Death Certificate of Spouse, if any 
  • Valid Passports 
  • Medical Examinations 
  • Photographs 
  • Recent job offer letter (or employment contract) 
  • Financial information regarding employer 
  • Government filing fees 
  • Visa Screen Certificate

U.S. Green Card (Permanent Residence)

Every foreign nurse has dream to get U.S. Green Card (Permanent Residence).

Advantage of being U.S. Green Card Holder

  • High Salary equivalent to U.S. Citizens
  • Avail benefits offered by U.S. Government


  • Employer need to offer permanent nursing position
  • U.S. employer needs to complete “labor certification” called PERM
  • Nurse Jobs Comes under “Schedule A” position (Green Card)
  • Employer file ETA Form 9089 and I-140 Petition to USCIS
  • USCIS approve I-140 petition
  • Foreign nurse can apply for green card by filing I-485

Employer has to offer full time permanent nursing position as it will aid to reduce the difficulty to obtain the U.S Green card. After providing full time permanent position the employer needs to complete “labor certification” on behalf of the nurse. This is called as PERM.


Health care workers especially nurse position is classified as a “Schedule A” position.

What is “Schedule A” Position?

U.S. government has recognized that U.S. needs more workers to fill (shortage of workers). Foreign nurse is eligible to apply for “Schedule A” position, as there is shortage of nurses.

Filing PERM, ETA Form 9089 and I-140 Petition to USCIS

U.S. employer will file PERM for a foreign nurse, complete ETA Form 9089, along with an I-140 petition, to USCIS. After approval of I-140 petition by USCIS, the foreign nurse can apply for the U.S. green card by filing the I-485.


Foreign nurse needs to get approval from USCIS that nurse are certified to work in the medical field in the U.S. For this procedure, foreign nurse first need to certify by the CGFNS. Nurse need to submit all of their qualifications and educational credentials to CGFNS. After submission, CGFNS will certify credentials are true and genuine.

What is CGFNS? – Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) will look up documents, verify and certify educational credentials.

CGFNS certificate is very important and need to be included in every visa or green card petition filed on the nurse’s behalf by the U.S. employer. If employer forgets to include CGFNS, USCIS will remind the employer to submit them before approving the petition.

After reviewing these, the CGFNS will issue a certified statement confirming:

  1. The nurse has a valid and unrestricted license in the U.S. state in which he or she will work and the state has certified that the nurse’s foreign license is authentic
  2. The nurse has passed the NCLEX, which is the U.S. licensing examination for nurses
  3. The nurse is a graduate of an English-language nursing program
  4. The nurse’s program was located in a country designated by the U.S. as acceptable for medical training, and
  5. The nursing program was in operation on or before November 12, 1999

 “Schedule A” position – nurse does not require to obtain a labor certification because “Schedule A” come under shortage of nurses category

For Permanent Residency, the nurse must pass the TOEFL or IELTS exam, which evaluates the nurse’s English skills


U.S. Immigration issues three categories of employment based green cards such as the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3. The EB-2 and EB-3 green cards generally require a PERM labor certification. U.S. Immigration law has special “Schedule A” category specially designed for Healthcare Practitioners (nurses). Schedule A is split into Group I and II.

Schedule A Group I Occupations

This occupation is specifically for the following health professionals:

  • Professional nurses who are licensed and possess certain educational qualifications

EB-1 Green Card

The EB-1 A category for those person with extraordinary achievement. People need to possess special skills mainly two skills. One with presenting qualification or by presenting an internationally recognized award (e.g., MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Oscar, Nobel Prize etc)

A person who get EB-1 Green Card, need to continue to work in their area of expertise.


To get EB-2 NIW Green Card, nurse need to possess a graduate degree, special qualification and achievements.

  • Evidence that you command a salary or other compensation
  • Official transcript showing diploma, degree, certificate or similar award from school, university and college
  • Recognition of outstanding achievements and significant contributions
  • License to practice or certification for the medical specialty
  • Membership of professional associations


Flow Chart to Obtain Green Card for Fiancé of U.S. Citizen

Fiancé of U.S. citizen apply for K-1 nonimmigrant visa to the United States and seek admission to U.S.

Within 90 days, alien fiancé need to get marry with U.S. Citizen

U.S. citizen need to file the Form I-129F, petition for Alien Fiancé, on his or her behalf

After that, Alien spouse can apply for lawful permanent resident status in U.S.

Finally Alien spouse get Green Card

To get Green Card for Fiancé of U.S. citizen, U.S. immigration law allows a U.S. citizen to petition for an alien fiancé to obtain a K-1 nonimmigrant visa to the United States and seek admission. Within 90 days of admission as K-1 nonimmigrant, the alien must enter into a bona fide marriage with the U.S. citizen who filed the Form I-129F, petition for Alien Fiancé, on his or her behalf. After that, the alien spouse can apply for lawful permanent resident status in the United States, finally get Green Card.

U.S. Visa Information for Foreign or Non-citizen Nurses
U.S. Visa Information for Foreign or Non-citizen Nurses


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