Canadian Nurses in Florida

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    Hi,I am a Canadian RN, working in Quebec since 7 years now, specialized in Ortho and pre-post op, I also have some teaching experience and am trying to move to Florida with my family in the following year. I wonder about the easiest and fastest process I would have to get through to have a visa/greencard and ability to get a well-paid position in Florida? Any other nurses that have been in my position and succeeded? Thank you all for your help
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  3. 14 Comments so far...

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    Hi! I am also from Quebec and recently went through all this to come work in Georgia.
    Your course of action depends on what kind of Visa you want to get. There is the H1B visa, which most people know about. This is a more long-term visa, but takes longer, is more expensive, and your employer actually needs to sponsor you for this. Immigration attorneys are required for this process.
    I myself got the TN visa. The TN visa is a non-immigration work visa through Trade NAFTA. There is a specific list of professions that fall under this visa, and luckily registered nurses are one of them. It is much quicker, and the visa itself only costs 60$. Here is the link for requirements for the TN visa Visas for Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Workers
    You need to get your documents together, your nursing licence for quebec and florida, education credentials, and a very well written, detailed job offer letter from your employer in florida. You should also be prepared to prove that you do not intend to immigrate permanently. You apply for this visa at a port of entry to America. I would recommend doing this at Montreal Airport. When you go through US immigrations, and they ask if you have anything to declare and all that, you tell them you are there to apply for a TN visa. They will bring you aside, look through your paperwork, interview you, etc. You get your visa directly at that visit if it is approved.
    But first of all, you need to start the process with Visascreen if you havent already, because they take FOREVER. Here is the link for CGFNS, the company that provides Visascreen services. www.cgfns.org Call the state board of nursing for Florida though, because some states do not require visascreen to work (Tennessee doesnt). You should apply right away for the Credentials Evaluation Service as well, because no one will tell you you need it, then your application will stay pending for ages because of this, with no one telling you they are waiting for the CES.It will also be extremely useful for getting the actual visa, because you will not need tons of different paperwork because this will say if your credentials match requirements.
    The actual service, from the day they receive all necessary information, takes 6-8 weeks to get processed. From personal experience, if you pressure them, they CAN do it quicker. But if you dont, they will take their sweet time and you will just keep waiting. If your employer is willing to send them a letter saying they need you quickly, you can pay an extra 500$ to get the process done in 5 business days.
    Oh, and since you work in Quebec, depending on where you went to school, they might make you take an english proficiency exam, the TOEFL. There are 5 approved nursing programs in Quebec that are exempt from having to write the TOEFL
    McGill University and Dawson College in Montreal, Vanier College in St Laurent, John Abbot College in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, and Heritage College in Gatineau.

    Anyways, that is what is coming to mind offhand. If you have more questions, I would be happy to give you advice! Just send me a private message!
    CatBearmanRN, AskRN, and Mcsteli like this.
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    Thank you soooooo much! This really helps, I'll keep you posted
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    Hi Mcsteli,

    I can only share my experience so far, which is far from complete or exactly like yours, so anyone else please interject. I am a New grad as of may, USA educated, Canadian citizen, on a student visa.

    The traditional route for international nurses coming to the US has been the H1B visa. Prior to the economy tanking, and while there was still a hiring frenzy. (Students from my school all had jobs months before graduation!, those were the days!) International nurses were actually fastracked on H1B's. Those days are OVER, with the economy, layoffs and hiring freezes etc. Hospitals sponsoring H1Bs are extremely rare. Mostly due to the costs, time and commitment the facility has to put into the visa. I had a classmate who is also on a student visa from China; our school/visa councilor had to tell her, her chances of getting an H1B were almost nil.

    Fortunately for you and I, there is a special class of visa called the TN-visa for Canadians!(there are posts about it here on AN). From my research, talking to others, meeting immigration lawyers, the TN visa is much easier to get. Mostly because you as the employee go and get it yourself, the hospital treats you the same as anyone else without any extra obligations. Therefore you can apply for a job just like anyone else.

    Upsides are that it’s easy, no commitment for the employer, and although it only last 1 or 2 years, it can be renewed indefinitely. Downside is that it is still considered a temporary employment visa; you can ride it as long as you want but you will never be eligible for a green card like the traditional H1B.

    I would recommend searching for recruiters online, before I started school I wanted to research my options. I found a variety and spoke to some of them who indicated they were very into Canadian nurses and am eager to help with placement and paperwork. Unfortunately I also hit the 'new grad' wall and therefore unemployable. LOL

    I hope that helps and I'd love to hear more from others, since I've graduated I have been interviewing (I actually had a very promising one last week, friends at the facility are pulling strings all over, nepotism yay/boo) So I'm definitely getting ready to put my visa and paperwork together.
    Mcsteli likes this.
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    Moved to advice on immigration in the World Nursing forum to elicit further response
    Mcsteli likes this.
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    I'm a Canadian citizen. I lived and worked in Florida for 17 yrs. Last year I returned to Alberta due to the lousy economic conditions in Florida.

    Don't expect it to be easy to find a job in Florida and don't expect to make good money and have good benefits.

    Also realize that over the last 4 years Florida has been experiencing some severe budget cut backs in schools, police, etc etc.

    Florida is not what it used to be.
    Fiona59 and JustBeachyNurse like this.
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    Hi itsmejuli,

    Did you spend all of that time on a TN? If so can you give us any advice on maintenance over the years?
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    The traditional route for nurses has been the Greencard (EB3) and nurses was fast tracked however this has been affected by retrogression and since Oct 2006 you have been looking at a wait of 6 plus years and that is once you have a employer a) willing to wait that length of time and b) willing to file EB3 for you. H1b isn't one that generally nurses use and a minimum of BSN or 12 plus years experience is required.

    Meeting state requirements is one of the hardest and lengthy process however if getting CES done by CGFNS then the documents already sent can be used for visa screen certificate with only extra item required and that is confirmation from the state that you passed NCLEX
    Mcsteli likes this.
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    Can you tell us which units you worked on? Which county/neighberhoods?
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    hi Jeweles26,
    Thanks for the great information.

    I was wondering if i can apply for a Visascreen before getting hired in the states.
    I just passed my NCLEX-RN this year. I'm Canadian graduate nurse and wanting to go to the states to work. I failed my CRNE twice and i have left with only one attempt. So, I was thinking of working in the USA before doing my CRNE last attempt. Is it a good idea? or it is better to stay in Canada and do my last attempt in June?
    Or If you think it is good to go in the states to work then, Do you think it is a good idea to do visascreen before getting a job in the states or should I do visascreen after i get a job? Greatly appreciated if you would help me reply my questions. Thank you in advance


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