Nurse Immigration Process

If the nurse resides abroad:

The immigration process begins when an employer submits an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) to the USCIS Service Centerthat has jurisdiction over the nurse's place of intended employment. The petition must be accompanied by DOL forms ETA-750 A and Bas well as various documents including those listed above. The petition should be accompanied by a check for filing fees. Typically, the USCISwill approve the visa petition in four to eight months.

If the RN is a native of one of ten selected countries (including Canada, China and the Philippines), the USCISfirst sends the approved visa petition to the NVC (National Visa Center) in Portsmouth, NH. If there is no backlog for an immigrant visa from the RN's native country (her "priority date" is "current"), the NVC forwards a packet to the nurse or her attorney containing biographical information forms to be completed by her and her family members, and a list of documents which must be presented at her interview for permanent residence.

The RN, or her attorney, sends the signed and completed forms to the U.S. consulate where the nurse will have her interview for permanent residence. At this interview, the nurse must present various documents including the following:

  1. Application for Immigrant Visa

  2. Security Clearance

  3. Birth Certificate

  4. Marriage Certificate, if any

  5. Divorce or Death Certificate of Spouse, if any

  6. Valid Passport

  7. Medical Examination

  8. Photographs

  9. Recent job offer letter or employment contract

  10. Financial information regarding the employer

  11. Filing fee

  12. VisaScreen Certificate (for more information and requirements of VisaScreen Certificate, please click our link for VisaScreen below).

Generally, the process of obtaining permanent residence may take between 12 to 24 months assuming that the immigrant visa quota from the RN's country is offered.

If the Nurse is in the United States

If the nurse is currently in the U.S., the nurse may be able to start working for the employer more expeditiously than if he or she resides abroad.

The nurse is required to have the same documents as stated previously. However, since he/she is in the US, he/she may take the state licensing examination (NCLEX-RN). Generally, the NCLEX-RN may only be taken in the U.S., including in Guam, Saipan, the Virgin Island, Puerto Rico and American Samoa. For more information about taking the NCLEX-RN, see its web site.

  1. The employer must submit an immigrant visa petition to the appropriate USCISService Center on behalf of the nurse.

  2. The USCISdoes not forward the approved visa petition to the NVC when an RN submits an application to adjust his/her status to that of permanent resident in the U.S.

  3. Upon approval of his/her visa petition, assuming his/her priority date is current, the RN and his/her family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) may apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the U.S. Simultaneously, they may apply for an Employment Authorization Card(EAC) and Advance Parole. The number of documents which must be included with an application for adjustment of status is less than is required when immigrating to the U.S. from abroad. However, a nurse cannot qualify for permanent residence until he/she presents a VisaScreen Certificate.

(Updated 10/8/2012 by AG)

For more information on Foreign Nurse Immigration, please click one of the following topics: