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7 Steps to Work in the U.S. as a Foreign Educated Nurse 

As an aspiring healthcare professional looking to pursue career opportunities, you might wonder how to be a part of global nurse staffing. You know that having this once-in-a-lifetime chance also comes along with modern working environments and improved standards of living.  

So, in this guide, let’s dive deep into how it’s like working as a foreign educated nurse and how to get into the US with the help of PRS Global. Below are the steps you’ll need in order to move and work in the US safely and legally. 

A Step-by-Step Guide to Become a Foreign Educated Nurse in the US  

Step 1: Meet the Educational Requirements 

To get the process started, you must meet the basic educational requirements as follows:  

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from an accredited nursing education program in your country of education 
  • Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN) in any country outside the US 
  • Practiced as an RN for at least two years 


Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), and patient care assistants are not eligible to transfer their licenses to the United States. If you’re unsure whether your qualifications are eligible, you can check with the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) 

Step 2: Complete a Foreign Educated Nurses Course 

A foreign educated nursing (FEN) course is designed for nurses who have completed their education outside the US. This refresher course has been created specifically to help you prepare for US practice. The course consists of 120 hours of classroom learning and another 120 hours of clinical practice. It involves familiarizing yourself with American healthcare systems and regulations, preparing for written and clinical exams, and more. 

Step 3: Take and Pass an English Language Proficiency Test 

Being able to speak English is an essential requirement for working in healthcare. Foreign educated nurses must take and pass a standardized test. This shows they are proficient enough in English to communicate with patients and medical staff. 

Aside from that, a Certification of Proficiency with the English Language is also a visa requirement for a green card! The one you must take and pass will vary depending on your country of origin:  

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) 
  • Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC)  
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 

Results are sent directly to the state nursing board. However, if you went to a nursing school located in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada (except Quebec), or Ireland, you are exempt from taking the test. This is because these countries use English in spoken and written language in teaching and textbooks in nursing schools.

Step 4: Pass the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses

Once you’re set on where in the US you’d like to work, you can now apply to that specific state’s board of nursing. You can then take the exam to secure your nursing license: the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). 

The NCLEX-RN is a standardized test that allows you to demonstrate your acquired training and knowledge to work as a nurse in the US. NCLEX examinations are currently administered in various countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and the Philippines. 

Step 5: Have Your Credentials Verified 

The goal of evaluating your credentials is to safeguard public protection. These evaluations demonstrate that you have completed an education program equivalent to a US education program. This also certifies that you have a valid nursing license and a university or nursing school transcript verified by an independent party.  

Each state in the US requires different levels of credentialing. For this purpose, the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing (CGFNS) is the most well-known evaluating body in the US. The CGFNS is that applicants meet the basic requirements and are fit to take the NCLEX. They go over all your nursing school transcripts and education history from your home country.  

For the most part, they provide three main credentials reports: 

  1. Credential Evaluation Service Professional Report

This is the least involved and cheapest report out of the three, costing USD 350. It provides the State Board of Nursing with only the most basic candidate information. Only a handful of states accept this report. 

The requirements for this report are:  

  • English Proficiency 
  • Secondary School Documents 
  • Licensure Documents from Country of Origin 
  • Nursing Education Documents from Country of Origin
  1. CGFNS Certification Program

This one has the baseline requirements as above with the additional requirement of passing the CGFNS Qualifying Exam. It requires a USD 445 fee. It’s held three times a year at over 40 testing centers all around the world. 

The exam helps each state determine if foreign educated nurses are well suited to care for its local patients. Applicants for this certificate are expected to have a minimum number of classroom and clinical practice hours in fields like pediatrics, psychiatric, neonatal, and adult medical/surgical nursing.  

  1. VisaScreen: Visa Credentials Assessments

VisaScreen has the same requirements as the CGFNS Certification Program. However, this evaluation makes you eligible for a Work Visa after you successfully pass the NCLEX-RN. It has a USD 540 fee.  

Even though CGFNS is the most popular evaluating body in the US, other cheaper credential service alternatives are worth looking into. Your options include the International Education Research Foundation and the Educational Records Evaluation Service.

Step 6: Secure Your Visa 

You must follow US federal immigration law and acquire a visa to migrate to the United States legally. The minimum requirement would be the registered nurse immigrant visa (H-1B Visa) which grants temporary residency. 

However, the visa of choice for foreign educated nurses is the employment-based permanent residency visa (EB-3 Visa or “Green Card”). This visa has no expiration date and gives you the ability to sponsor your family to move and join you in the US. 

Step 7: Find a Registered Nursing Position 

The final step is to secure a job with either a global nurse staffing agency or a US-based employer. It’s usually easier for foreign educated nurses to work with global nurse staffing recruiters to obtain faster sponsorship. 

PRS Global Can Make These 7 Steps a Smooth Ride 

We understand that completing the whole process of migrating to the US can be a daunting endeavor. Fear not, though, because PRS Global is your nurturing, reliable, and excellent partner in taking on the life-changing path to becoming a foreign educated nurse in the US.  

When you are with PRS Global, you’ll be treated like family. We provide only the best services for our very own. PRS assigns a personalized case manager to see through your application from start to finish. We will ensure you have all the support you need to complete all your requirements.  

PRS Global also features direct placements to the medical facility of your choosing. This gives you 100% control over your professional career. This also ensures that you will be placed in a stable work environment, get the right compensation package, and access all professional advancement opportunities afforded to locally sourced staff.  

We also make sure to waste no time in helping you turn your dream into reality. Our premium processing service fast tracks your visa processing, so you get to start working sooner. We walk with you from the moment you send in your application and even after settling into your new job. We provide clinical and human resources support throughout your contract duration! We can’t wait to welcome you home. Contact us today!