If the RN resides abroad, the following steps must be completed before the nurse may be employed in the U.S.:
1. The RN must be in possession of:
A) diploma from a nursing school in her country; B) An RN license in her country; and C) A full and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the state of intended employment,
or a certification that she has passed the examination given by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign
Nursing Schools (CGFNS), or evidence that she has passed the NCLEX-RN licensing examination but cannot
obtain a license because she lacks a social security number.
The following states require that foreign nurses pass the CGFNS examination before taking the state RN licensing (NCLEX) examination:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, 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.
2. RNs together with physical therapists are listed as shortage, or "Schedule A", occupations in regulations (20 C.F.R. §656.22) issued by the Department of Labor. An employer who wishes to immigrate an RN is exempt from having to submit an application for alien labor certification to the Department of Labor or to a State Employment Security Agency.
The immigration process begins when an employer submits an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) to service center of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) having jurisdiction over the nurse's place of intended employment. The petition must be accompanied by Labor Department forms ETA-750A and B and by various documents including those listed above. The petition should be accompanied by a check for filing fees.
3. The USCIS sends the approved visa petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. If there is no backlog for immigrant visas 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.
4. 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:
A. Application for Immigrant Visa B. Police Clearance C. Birth Certificate D. Marriage Certificate, if any E. Divorce or Death Certificate of Spouse, if any F. Valid Passport G. Medical Examination H. Photographs I. Recent job offer letter (or employment contract) J. Financial information regarding employer K. Government filing fee L. Visa Screen Certificate