Foreign Nurses who are CGFNS or NCLEX-RN certified belong to the third preference group in employment-based immigration. This category of immigration requires employer sponsorship and means only the employer (hospital, nursing home etc.) may apply for permanent residence for foreign nurses.
Foreign Nurses that have passed the CGFNS exam or are certified as an NCLEX-RN can qualify to obtain permanent residence, with assistance, whether they are residing inside or outside the U.S. In addition, an immigration attorney can help foreign nurses find qualified employers to sponsor their application for permanent residence. Unlike most of the employment-based immigration applications, employers are exempted from filing labor certification, an often lengthy and cumbersome process with the U.S. Labor Department and State Employment Agency.
REQUIRED DOCUMENTS AND QUALIFICATION
Whether applying outside the United States or within, the foreign nurse must possess:
1. A diploma from a nursing school in their country
2. A license to practice nursing in their country
3. An unrestricted license in a state of intended employment, or a certification that they have passed either the U.S. licensing examination (NCLEX-RN) but cannot obtain the license for lack of a social security number, or they has passed the examination given by Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).
4. Visa Screen Certificate (see below)
LICENSURE BY EXAMINATION
Please note that the majority of states require foreign nurses to pass CGFNS before taking the NCLEX-RN. The following are the states with such requirement:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
LICENSURE BY ENDORSEMENT
Nurses who have passed the NCLEX-RN in states that do not require CGFNS may acquire the license of another state through endorsements. Each state's Board of Nursing has its own web site that lists the requirement on endorsement.
HOW TO AVOID THE REQUIREMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER AND CGFNS EXAMINATION
Most states in the U.S. require nurses to present their social security number in order to take NCLEX-RN. Some states allow foreign nurses to take the examination but will not grant a license if the nurse cannot provide a social security number or individual tax ID. Since the end of 2003, IRS (Internal Revenue Service) no longer issues tax ID without proof of a tax return. This virtually shut the door to licensure of foreign nurses thereby to employment immigration since few employers are willing to sponsor a nurse who has no U.S. license.
Currently, New York and New Hampshire do not require a social security number or tax ID as requirement for licensure. Nor do they require CGFNS examination as required by majority of the states. Foreign nurses should present their credentials to CGFNS for certification/evaluation and, upon certification, become eligible for NCLEX and licensure.
As NCLEX-RN was administered for the first time in Hong Kong, Korea, and England in 2005, so the above method is crucial for nurses who are unable to enter the U.S. for NCLEX.
In order to properly obtain permanent residence in the United States, the steps above should be taken as they are prescribed. For further information, please consult with a qualified nurse immigration attorney at the earliest point possible.