Hi to all of my Canadian nursing colleagues who are interested in immigrating to NYC or just NY state in general. I completed this process in February 2013 and I'm now working in the city. I didn't have anyone advising me on the process and while all of the information is out there, I had to piece most of it together on my own. In hindsight, there were many things that would have saved me time had I known in advance.
I decided to put this together to help anyone who might need answers or even validation that their process is correct. I looked on this sight many times trying to find answers. The important thing to note is that this is Canada to NY state specific.
Just a little tip before you make your final decision to move: The nursing market in NYC is over-saturated. Even with connections it's hard to get a job - especially as a non-citizen or green card holder. Hopefully this will change as more nurses retire, but at present, I would recommend getting between one and two years of experience before applying here. I applied everywhere and the feedback I received was that finding work as a new grad is incredibly difficult and nearly impossible as a non-American. If you apply as an experienced nurse they usually require between one and two years. I would also recommend getting your experience in acute care, as the majority of the experienced nurse openings were/are in ICU and ER settings.
As a Canadian RN with a bachelor's degree, you are entitled to work in the USA on what's called TN Status. It's not technically a visa, it's a NAFTA agreement work permit of sorts. It's valid from 1-3 years. To obtain one, this is what I did:
1.) Go to CGFNS.org and apply for the Credential Verification Service for New York State.
Pay the fee, print out the forms and get them back ASAP. When I did it, they made me have a few of my forms notarized. The CVS for NYS can take a long time because you have to fill out consent forms authorizing CGFNS to contact your university for your transcript and your licensing body for your license. CGFNS is usually pretty quick at contacting these institutions, but the institutions are painfully slow. I waited months for my licensing body (OIIQ) to send it off. They kept telling me that they would send it in 6-12 weeks. Believe it or not it took longer. Once CGFNS finished reviewing your documents, they will issue a report to the NY State Nursing licensing authority (NYS OP)
2.) While you are waiting for the CVS to go through, apply for your NY State license. I made the mistake of waiting for my CVS report to be issued before applying directly with the NY State licensing authority. It ended up costing me a few months. You apply by mail and you print the form out at NYS Nursing:Application Forms RN & LPN
You only need to submit Form 1, as the CVS is your Form 2 equivalent. Before you can submit this form, you need to complete two online courses - Infection Control and Child Abuse. You will see these links on the left hand side of the above website. They take an hour or so and you can immediately print off the certificate. Submit the form with the certificates early, because at least when I did it, they took around four months just to process Form 1. By the time they finish processing it, CGFNS will have sent them your CVS and then they can review it your entire application (which can take another few months).
3.) Once you receive your approval letter from the NYS Office of the Professions, register for the NCLEX at NCLEX Examinations :: Pearson VUE
Once the NYS Office of the Professions reviews and approves your application, Pearson VUE will be notified and they will send you an ATT (Authorization to Test). They will only send the ATT, however, once you register/pay for the exam.
You can register for the exam at any point in the process - which includes paying the exam fee, but you cannot schedule the exam without an ATT. The issue you can run into is if you do not receive your ATT within one year of registering, you have to re-pay the fee. However, if you do not register for the exam, you will not receive an ATT. You can always call the NYS OP to check the status of your application. It's much quicker than waiting for snail mail.
4.) Write the NCLEX. If you pass, you should receive your license in the mail in about one month.
5.) It's not over yet. Apply for your Visa Screen at cgfns.org
This is what you need to get the TN Status. While it is expensive, the good news is that they already have all of your documents from the CVS. Because of this, my Visa Screen took under a month to be approved. They ask for the same things as the CVS, with the addition of a passport sized photo, a copy of your high school diploma (which you send, not your high school) and verification from NYS OP that you have a license. CGFNS will tell you to print off this form: CGFNS International, Inc. | Global Credibility | 4 4 Error (Page Not Found)
and send it to NYS OP to fill out and send back to CGFNS. When I called NYS OP, they told me to print off this form: NYS Professions - Page Not Found
send it to them, along with a fee, and they will fill it out and send back to CGFNS. When I explained this to the woman over the phone at NYS OP, she told me to send them both. NYS OP was really quick at sending this in. Once everything is in, CGFNS says it can take several weeks to review, but mine only took a few days. Once approved, they express mail the Visa Screen certificate you.
6.) Apply for jobs! You are now legally allowed to work in NY State! Many application forms will ask if you require sponsorship. The answer is no. The TN Status does not require sponsorship from an employer. This makes you much more attractive than an applicant who does. Once you are hired, your employer must write you a letter of offer stipulating a few things, like job title, description, salary, length of employment, etc. This letter is really important. My hospital had written them before so they knew what was required.
You can find all of the information about the letter and the TN at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/ty...#documentation
7.) Take your letter of offer, your Visa Screen, your New York License, your University diploma and your Canadian passport (all must be original) to the closest border to where you live. You must approach the border from the Canadian side, i.e. you must be exiting Canada and entering the USA. If everything looks okay, you will pay a fee (around $50 USD), and they will grant you the TN status on the spot. Obtaining the TN status was the most painless part of the entire process.
I highly recommend researching the NAFTA agreement extensively. There are very strict rules about things like entering the USA to actively search for jobs. You don't want to violate any rules, because i guarantee, you will not be issued the TN status when you go to the border.
I hope this helps someone out there! Good luck. It may seem daunting, but people do it all the time! Start to finish, the process took me a full year, so be patient. In the meantime, get great hospital experience so that by the time you're ready to apply in NY, you are an attractive candidate!