Why Is It Taking Too Long? Important Things to Know About the Immigration Process
Immigration is a rather big shift and is considered a significant life event for anyone. Moving to a foreign land entails a lot of preparation, not to mention a great deal of positive thinking that everything will turn out well. That is why being granted immigration is a true achievement for anyone and is indeed worth the celebration.
However, before any aspiring US nurse can celebrate the end of the immigration process, there is a rather daunting stage they have to face: the waiting. For most nurses, this is the most agonizing period, as it renders them powerless, leaving them to do nothing else. Why is the immigration process, particularly for prospective US nurses, so long? Is there any way to expedite it?
What is the immigration process for nurses who wish to enter and stay in the US?
Right off the bat, remember that the immigration process is not only an attempt to be relocated to a different country but includes a job application as well. Like with any other foreigner entering the US, your objectives of why you want to pursue travel have to be well-defined. Also, if you aim for permanent resident status, authorities will be keen to scrutinize your application.
What are the steps within the immigration process?
- Get a nursing college degree and license from your home country. A college degree and a nursing license are non-negotiable if you are to pursue a career in nursing.
- Pass an English language proficiency exam. It is only imperative for nurses to also take language exams as part of the preparation to work in an English-speaking country. This is one of the other tests you must pass aside from your licensure exam. Tests you may consider are the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), TOEIC (Test for English for International Communication), and the IELTS (International English Language Testing System).
- Pass the NCLEX examinations. The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for nurses is different from your licensure exam. While the latter focuses on knowledge and theory, the former is more about applications of what you have learned so far as a nurse.
This particular test has four major categories and eight subcategories. The questions are in multiple-choice form, and the entire test is based on the framework “Meeting Client Needs.” You will notice that the questions are often situational and really push you to think on your feet.
The road to passing the NCLEX is a feat in itself. You have to choose which state you would like to pass the NCLEX in and go through the specific application process of that state. Application to take the NCLEX can be as fast as two months in some states and up to six to eight months in others.
- Get a job offer from a US employer. Once you have passed the necessary tests, it’s time to look for a job. First, search for hospitals or other healthcare facilities within the NCLEX state that looks for nurses like you. Compared to before, this particular state might be easier to fulfill given the US’ nursing shortage, which was amplified because of the pandemic.
Your US employer will give you the necessary endorsement for immigration. It is recommended that you aim to get an EB3 visa. Unlike other visas, this one allows immigrants like you to work and live permanently in the US.
- Complete a visa screening process. It is required by law that immigrants are to complete a visa screening process before being granted an occupational visa. Your US employer will petition for you to get the EB3 visa, which is when you apply for visa screening. In this stage, approach the Commission for Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools or CGFNS to do the screening for you. Your aim is to get the VisaScreen certificate.
The VisaScreen service is recognized by the United States Department of Homeland Security for verifying the background and eligibility of healthcare professionals seeking employment in the US, including registered nurses. The process will also include another round of testing, the CGFNS Qualifying Exam, which will determine your readiness to receive the visa and perform your professional duties as an immigrant nurse in the USA.
The last steps of your immigration process will be with the National Visa Center. After submitting the required documents and paying some fees, you will go through an interview. Once everything is cleared, you are set to receive the immigration visa.
So, why does the immigration process take so long?
As you can tell from the descriptions above, the entire process is a series of processes, and those “mini-processes” also have a list of steps. Considering that you are cooperating with several US government offices and entities, another factor is the distance between you and the individuals working with you. The distance also has additional factors, such as time differences and communication barriers. If immigration could simply be handled within your country of origin, it could be faster. Yet clearly, that is not the case.
Another significant factor in the current era is the pandemic. While there is a nursing shortage and the need to fill multitudes of nursing positions is high in demand, there is an enormous backlog in processing visas. The National Visa Center recently reported for June 2022 that there are more than 426,000 visa application interviews that are currently on the backburner, and probably, a big chunk of those applications are for immigrant nurses.
However, even if there is a backlog in visa applications, rest on the thought while the process is slow, it’s still moving. While at the moment you may feel powerless, it is because, at this point in time, you have nothing else to do but wait.
What are other thoughts you can focus on while waiting?
The immigration process will end at a time that is equitable for all parties: you, your US employer, and even your loved ones. Many nurses who have successfully immigrated to America will tell you to simply trust the process. When the time comes that you receive news that your visa has been approved, you’ll feel the happiest type of happiness. It will be all worth it in the end.
You may also consider the following tidbits of wisdom:
- There is nothing wrong with following up, but do it in moderation. Go ahead and send a follow-up message to the offices currently handling your application. However, remember not to overdo it, as they have their own responsibilities to meet, aside from processing your application. Perhaps asking about updates every two weeks to a month would be modest enough. Do not let impatience make you act crass towards those who are simply helping you gain immigration.
- Spend time with your loved ones; these might not come as often soon. Once you are granted a visa, precious time with your loved ones might be scarce from that point on. So, cherish the possible last days, weeks, or months with them and make these last few moments count. Once you have your full-time job in the US, it’ll take some time before you can gain chances to visit your loved ones back home regularly.
- Even the time you are using to wait is part of your investment. You’ve probably spent a lot of money and effort to make your immigration dreams come true. Include time in this equation, and all those sacrifices you made will be worth it when the right time comes. Everything will be worth it at the end when you can finally call yourself an immigrant US nurse.
LET PRS GLOBAL JOIN YOU ON THIS LONG YET REWARDING JOURNEY.
You’ll need someone in your corner to cheer you on as you try your best to become an immigrant nurse. Why not have with you the help of a staffing partner who has ushered many satisfied nurses from around the globe into the so-called Land of Opportunities? PRS Global is your companion as you dream of bringing your nursing passion to the US.
Beyond assisting you with visa applications and job placements, we at PRS Global will also monitor your journey every step of the way through our wellness programs and in maintaining a community of immigrant nurses. We can also provide help with legal matters, such as licensing and citizenship, and even help your family move with you into the US.
The wait may be long, but it does not have to be difficult. Talk to PRS Global today.