How to work as a Nurse in the USA?
By PAUL BILUAN
First things first!
In order to work in the United States as a nurse, there are two things you must acquire: RN license and a US Visa.
The most important aspect in starting your career in the USA is getting a license by passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Without this, you would not be able to practice the profession and no employer can hire you. Processing for the NCLEX begins with application to a board of Nursing in any of the US state or territory. The requirements and fees differ with each state. Most of them requires a Credential Evaluation which will check if your documents from school and PRC (Philippine license) are authentic and at par with the US standard. Some of them require you to take an English exam such as the IELTS or TOEFL, fingerprinting and online seminars or courses. Once the application is finished and you are found eligible to take the exam, you will register in Pearsonvue and schedule an exam. You may take the exam in Manila. I will be writing a detailed discussion of the NCLEX process in a separate blog soon.
Once the license is secured, the next step is to acquire a visa to be able to enter the US legally. There are various visa categories that nurses may obtain. The options are as follows:
- Employment-based visa (EB): an employer (whether direct hospital hire or through staffing agencies) will sponsor your visa petition. It grants permanent residence status.
- Family-based (FB): a family member such as spouse, parent, brothers or sisters in the US may sponsor your petition. It grants permanent residence status.
- Working Visa (H1B): an employer may sponsor your petition. However, the visa is only valid for 3 years and may be renewed only once for another 3 years. This does not grant a permanent visa status.
- Fiancé Visa (K): if you have a fiance who is a US Citizen, he or she may petition you to the US. Upon arrival, you must marry the person in 90 days otherwise your visa expires.
Those are the most common visas used by Pinoy nurses to enter the states. As for tourist visas, it does not grant permission to work in the US. The only purpose of this visa is for leisure and tour. I highly discourage you to use it to enter the states with an intention to practice nursing. If the immigration knew about this, you would immediately be deported and will be banned to enter the US. Always do the legal way.
When the license had been acquired and petition had been started, the waiting game begins. Keep in mind that visa processing takes time (especially with the EB3). Patience is key. Further elaboration about these visa options will be discussed in another blog entry soon.
For more info, check these sites:
- NCLEX: ncsbn.org
- US Visas: travel.state.gov