Step-by-Step Guide to Work as a Nurse in the USA

While there is a well-known shortage of registered nurses and healthcare workers in the US, existing immigration regulations in the United States have made it easy for nurses willing to work in the US. Those interested in pursuing this path must get the necessary visas and documentation from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency.

Thus, in this article, we are going to provide a Step-by-Step Guide to Work as a Nurse in the USA.

Work as a Nurse in the USA

Nursing is one of the most paid professions in the US. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), Registered Nurses in the country made an average salary of $75,330. For Nurses looking forward to moving into the US, it is a great step to further their careers, expand their nursing skills, immerse themselves in a new culture, and face new challenges and opportunities.

To migrate legally to the United States, as a nurse, you must meet federal requirements. You will need to obtain a Registered Nurse Immigrant Visa (“Green Card”) or H-1B visa. Also, it is required you complete a screening program before they can receive an occupational visa.

It is necessary to understand that, in the US, the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS)  is approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to validate the credentials of all the foreign healthcare professionals for occupational visas, including registered nurses.

Requirements to Work as a Nurse in the USA

Nurses willing to work overseas must fulfil minimum educational standards. Below is the requirement needed to Work as a Nurse in the USA ;

  • Must have graduated from a Registered Nursing program that has been accredited: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) (BSN)
  • Must be a Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Must have at least two years of experience working as an RN
  • Must be licensed for licensed practical nurses (LPNs)
  • Must have completed Foreign-Educated Nurses (FEN) refresher course
  • Must have basic English Language proficiency test score ( TOEFL, IELTS, others)

Documents Required to Work as a Nurse in the USA

The documents needed to enable you to migrate and work in the US as a nurse legally are (not limited to):

  • Valid Passport
  • Academic qualifications
  • H-1B Visa
  • CGFNS screening result
  • Evidence of employment

Steps to Work as a Nurse in the USA

Having known what a nursing job is like in the US and the eligibility criteria, here are steps to Work as a Nurse in the USA country:

Step 1: Complete Foreign-Educated Nurses (FEN)

If you meet the eligibility criteria to be a nurse in the US, the first step to working as a nurse in the country is to complete the Foreign-Educated Nurses (FEN) refresher course. The nurse refresher course is provided specifically for LPNs or RNs in need of an update in nursing knowledge and skills. It is not mandatory, but necessary as some states in the country make it a prerequisite.

Step 2: Get Proficiency Test

English Language proficiency is required to work as a nurse in the US as stated earlier. Tests accepted are TOEFL, IELTS, etc. If you are from English-speaking countries like the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and others, you are exempted from presenting a proficiency score.

Step 3:  Get Your Credentials Evaluated

The CGFNS responsible for certifying non-U.S. citizens to work in various positions in healthcare will verify that you’ve received a general high school-level education and postsecondary instruction in five key areas of nursing which include: Effective care management; Health promotion and maintenance; Psychosocial Integrity; and Physiological integrity.

Before you will be evaluated, you must have submitted your transcript to the agency. After the process, you will receive a CGFNS certificate.

Also Read: How to Apply for UK Temporary Visas for Lorry Drivers and Poultry Workers

Step 4: Pass the NCLEX-RN Examination

The next inline is to apply for the NCLEX exams in the particular state you wish to work in. The NCLEX exams are conducted outside the UK in  Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan. The exam will cost you at least $200.

If you pass the NCLEX exams, you are now eligible to work as a nurse in the US.

Step 5: Find a Sponsor

You need to be recruited before you can apply for Visa to work as a nurse in the US. You can contact a staffing agency to sponsor you or the state board. You can as well use your contacts to get a job. Once your employment is filed, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 6: Obtain Nursing Employment Visa

The last step in how to work as a nurse in the US is visa processing. The work visa for nurses is an H-1B visa. It is a temporary visa that allowed nurses that have secured work in the country to legally enter and work. The visa can be used to apply for a green card while in the US.

Better still, you can decide to process a green card directly, once you have gotten the job, but you won’t be in the US to be able to process it.

What’s Processing Duration to Get Nursing  Job in the US

There’s no specific duration, but it might take a year or more to be completed.


Nursing is among the most paying jobs in the US and there are constantly seeking nurses in the country. We have just looked at how to get a nursing job in the country, we hope this information has been of help. Kindly drop a comment below.

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