Hello allnurses! This is a long post. I hope some of you take the time to read it. I want to help others. I am writing this thread with the intention of imparting advice.
I have read so many posts on the subject of H1B visas and the hot button topic of immigration. There are a lot of nurses in the world out there who are trying, or thinking of trying, to obtain this much-sought-after, goal (H1B.) Well, I have achieved this goal, and will be making my big move to America very soon. I am so happy, I cannot put it into words. Now, I really would have appreciated some to-the-point factual information whilst going through my many struggles these past few years. Whilst the internet, and chat rooms/forums such as this, are our friends, they are also our foe. Why? Because for as many correct, helpful and friendly posts you will find out there, you will stumble across twice as many incorrect, unhelpful and hostile posts. It is not clear, what advice we should follow, and which we should disregard. A lot of information is very fragmented and unclear. There are many out there who are going through the arduous process themselves and know very well the pitfalls and challenges. There are many very lovely nurse colleagues out there who try their best to help, and I am grateful for all these anonymous contributors. Unfortunately, there are many more, though, who are not going through the process, and whilst are very well informed and very well read, are very hasty to discourage you and insult you (largely due to frustration with the current economic situation I am sure) and tell you, very incorrectly, 'How It Is' from their limited perspective. I thought my non-USA colleagues out there would perhaps like some feedback from someone who has actually been through it.
I want to make it clear though, that I am not biased in my view of immigrants. My advice, such as it may be, is not unconditional. I believe that, first of all: you should love the United States of America and want, above all, to make it your home. I say this without apology or reservation. I have come across too many foreign RNs who have a vague notion of emigrating to the States: without ever having been there! To me, this is ludicrous. If you have never been to America, and you are either purely financially motivated, or you are wanting to go to America because there are many other nurses there from your home country, such as the Philippines or India (and I have come across many of these), DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME. If you don't really want to go there with all your heart; if you don't really know anything about the culture/history/geography/lifestyle; if you would in all honesty go ANYWHERE to get a job and you are not too concerned where that place may be: focus your interests on other counties. The immigration process, as of 2014, is too stressful, timely and expensive, not to mention labor-intensive and disheartening, for the Casual Immigrant. Plus, the Casual Immigrant generates a lot of resentment and hostility from American RNs - and rightly so. Many thousands of US nurses are struggling to find work. Why should their potential job go to a foreigner who who couldn't really give a rat's ass about America?
Second: Know the process and do your homework. It is not impossible to find employers who are willing to sponsor overseas nurses for the precious H1B visa, but they are few and far between. You need to put your hours in and make a DEDICATED effort. The visa will NOT just land in your lap courtesy of the stork. You need to:
* Be in possession of, minimum, a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing.
* Meet State requirements and get a Credentials Evaluation Report from CGFNS. (Look on whichever state you wish to work in, their Board of Nursing website, plus CGFNS website. Look at them CLOSELY. Your report MUST specify that your BSN is the equivalent of an American BSN. This is imperative. If it says your credentials are the equivalent of a US Diploma or an Associates' Degree in nursing, you are going nowhere.)
* Get an Authorization to Test (ATT) to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Pass it.
* Get a VisaScreen Certificate from CGFNS after passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
* Get speciality certification in your area of practice. (E.g, dialysis, emergency room, wound care, geriatrics, cardio-vascular, etc. There are many certifications to be had in the States. Again, do your homework.) This will entail more exams. If, like me, you love learning and bettering yourself, this is definitely a good thing.
* Start looking for jobs. The job MUST REQUIRE A BSN. Not 'BSN desirable.' It has to be 'BSN required.' Otherwise any visa application submitted is likely to be denied, because a H1B visa requires the JOB to require a BSN, not just the applicant POSSESSING a BSN. This is a very important detail. Also..Look in rural areas as opposed to big cities. Consider undesirable areas. They are much more likely to have problems recruiting and retaining staff, and will be much more likely to consider sponsoring overseas RNs as a consequence. Big, popular hospital in major cities? No chance, unless you are SuperNurse with a PhD and a magic wand.
And there you have it. You have to be prepared for setbacks, bureaucracy, red tape, expense, a lot of studying, plenty of headaches and sleepless nights, and possibly no positive outcome after all of that. Going down the agency route, believe me, is of NO BENEFIT WHATSOEVER. They only do what you can do for yourself, if you are determined and focused: make phone calls and send out your resume. Except, they charge you a hefty fee and there is no guarantee of a job or a visa at the end of it all. My advice is:
* Be determined
* Really want to live in the States
* Be self sufficient
* Be positive
* DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!
I have encountered too many nurses who have no particular love of America or have never even been there - or both - but who think they deserve to be granted a visa because they are a skilled nurse in their own country. NOT SO. As an immigrant myself, it grates on my last nerve to hear such stories. E.g..."I want to work in America, I don't care where, I have never been there, but I've heard the pay and the lifestyle is really good and there are lots of nurses from my country there...so I could send all of my disposable income back to my country every month...and never actually integrate." This drives Americans crazy and I agree with them. You do not deserve a place in the Land of The Free and the Home of the Brave!
However, if like me, you have a passionate desire to make your life as a professional nurse in the USA; follow the above-mentioned steps and hopefully you will find success at the end of your road. If you are genuine in your endeavor, do not be discouraged by comments telling you that USA nurses cannot find employment, so why should ANYONE consider sponsoring you for a visa? Some of you may not be aware of this, so let me tell you: A crucial component of the H1B visa is that (a) it is a 'specialist occupation' visa (so contrary to some posts - you very much DO need to work in a specialty area -operating room/pediatrics/ICU etc-, and furthermore get certification in this specialty) and b) the employer MUST demonstrate that they have tried, and failed, to fill the post with an American nurse for quite some time before they considered hiring a non-USA nurse. So, you are not 'taking a job away' from an indigenous citizen. It is actually impossible to do so. If a suitably qualified American nurse applies for the post, and you apply for the post too, and the employer decides to offer you the job instead of the American nurse, your visa application will be rejected unequivocally & without doubt. It is only those job vacancies which are UNFILLED that are taken by H1B applicants. This is an important point; remember it because you will mos tprobably encounter some hostility upon your arrival in the States from those nurses who can not believe that a local nurse could not have filled that position. BE PREPARED FOR THAT!
Finally....good luck, compadres. I have been working towards my goal for several years and it has been tireless, tiring and exhausting. However, upon reflection, I would not change my life experiences for all the tea in China. This long, hard struggle has made me a better person and a better nurse; I can hold my hand on my heart and say I have earned my place in the United States of America, and I aim to be the very best nurse I can possibly be.
Thank you for your time.
Last edit by Esme12 on Jan 15