Foreign Nurses: Are You Qualified to Work in the US?

The Shapiro Law Group

Provided their qualifications meet the necessary standards, nurses educated and trained outside the U.S. can work in their field in America. Providing patient care and facilitating communication between doctors and patients, nurses are essential members of health care teams in hospital, clinic, and private practice settings. To work as a registered nurse in the U.S., people must meet stringent requirements to ensure they are able to provide the appropriate medical care.

Education Credentials to Work as a Nurse in the U.S.

Nurses who were educated outside the U.S. must have their transcripts evaluated to ensure their knowledge and skills are equivalent to the U.S. standards for nursing professionals. An approved nursing service provider will go through the course of their record by course to make certain they have met the necessary educational requirements for registered nurses. To qualify, foreign-educated nurses must have the equivalent of a high school diploma. Additionally, their nursing education program must have included instruction in adult medical and surgical, psychiatric, neonatal, and pediatrics.

U.S. Licensing Examination

Like nurses educated at U.S. institutions, foreign nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX to receive a nursing license. The test focuses on safe and effective care environments, physiological integrity, health promotion and maintenance, and psychosocial integrity and is meant to ensure nurses have the knowledge necessary to provide appropriate medical care, as well as the necessary mental and emotional stability. If they were educated in Quebec or otherwise outside the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Guam, Australia, America Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands, foreign nurses who wish to work in the U.S. must also pass an English proficiency test.

Obtaining Legal Immigration Status

Foreign nurses may gain authorization to immigrate to and work in the U.S. through a TN visa, an H-1B visa, or a permanent residency card. Nurses from Mexico or Canada with the appropriate licensing may qualify as NAFTA professionals, making them eligible for a TN visa. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree or higher that intend to work in a specialty role may pursue an H-1B visa, which would permit them to work in the U.S. for a period of three years. In some cases, employers may petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to request permanent residency on behalf of a foreign-educated nurse they wish to hire.