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  Finance | Financial advice | Immigration | Banking | Accounting

Dilip Patel


The only real immigration option for Registered Nurses is to take up a job in the United States as an immigrant (a permanent move) rather than as a nonimmigrant (a temporary move with a work permit). This article will describe the immigrant visa process for Registered Nurses in greater detail. At the end of the process, upon admission to the U.S. as a “Lawful Permanent Resident” the Registered Nurse would be issued with a card to identify the status. In the past, this card used to be colored green and hence people called it the “Green Card” and the name has been in use ever since.

For Registered Nurses, there are two distinct aspects to the Green Card process. This article will discuss the first step: the immigrant petition process. Part 2 next month will discuss the second step: the immigrant visa process.

The Immigrant Visa Petition for Registered Nurses

By way of background, it is important to note that in general, Green Card processing on the basis of employment usually requires a certification from the Department of Labor (Labor Certification). The normal Labor Certification process is quite complicated, involved and time consuming. It requires a test of the U.S. job market to be conducted by the employer to prove that there are no U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified and available for the job offered.

For Professional Nurses however, the Department of Labor has already determined that there are not enough U.S. professional nurses. Therefore, no test of the labor market is required. Instead, the employer is allowed to file the petition and include with it the appropriate Department of Labor forms to take advantage of the special rules available for professional nurses. This process is often referred to as “Schedule A - Pre-Certification.”

Schedule A – Pre-Certification is only available to “professional nurses.” Professional nursing is defined as a course of study in professional nursing resulting in a diploma, certificate, baccalaureate degree or associate degree. The course of study must include theory and practice in clinical areas such as obstetrics, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry and medicine. To start the process, the Registered Nurse must be licensed in the country in which the nurse qualified as a Registered Nurse. The nurse also must provide a CGFNS certification.

The CGFNS certificate provides evidence that the nurse has complied with a three-step review of nursing skills:

(i) Credentials evaluation;
(ii) Passage of English language proficiency (or exemption from it); and,
(iii) Passage of the CGFNS qualifying exam.

A Registered Nurse, who has passed the NCLEX-RN licensing exam, is exempt from the requirement of obtaining a CGFNS certificate. Please note that a “Visa Screen” certificate also will be required. This will be discussed later, in Part 2, but note that it is not the same as the CGFNS certificate though the Visa Screen can be obtained from CGFNS.

The petition package is submitted to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services center, which has jurisdiction over the proposed place of employment. For positions in Florida, the petition is filed with the Texas Service Center.

The petition package would include the appropriate Department of Labor forms. One requirement is that the employer must post a notice at the worksite for a minimum of 10 business days. The posted notice has to include the job description, work hours and rate of pay. The petition package cannot be filed until 30 days after the 10-day posting period. The notice is not an advertisement for job applicants. It is more a notice to other workers that an application for permanent alien labor certification for the relevant job opportunity has been made and the notice must state that any person may provide documentary evidence to the Department of Labor.

In addition to posting the notice for 10 consecutive business days at the worksite, the notice also must be included in any and all in-house media (whether electronic or printed), in accordance with the normal procedures used for the recruitment of similar positions by the employer. An attestation would be required from the employer that identifies the physical location where the notice was posted, and the date of publishing of all in-house media, whether electronic or print, that were used to distribute notice of the application in accordance with the procedures used for similar positions by the employer.

The Immigration Service would process the petition and in due course approve the petition. If any questions arise, they could issue a request for additional evidence before issuing their decision. Processing time for the petition varies greatly, but current experience is 4 to 6 weeks.

Once the petition is approved, the second stage begins. Part two will discuss the second stage.

The foregoing is intended as general information only. You should retain an attorney experienced in immigration law for advice specific to your situation.

Dilip Patel is a Board Certified Immigration Attorney. He is the founder of the Dilip Patel, P.A. law firm ( and has practiced business and immigration law in the Tampa Bay area since 1990. He can be reached at (727) 712 0066 or by email at

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