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.
I appreciate your explaining the specific requirements of H1B visa process. This is very clear and well-expressed. For nurses who do not have a bachelor's degree, what are the options?
I am aware of the Green Card (which has a long waiting list) or Trade-NAFTA status for Canadians and Mexicans. Citizenship can be gotten through other means (marriage for instance), or refugees and asylees may also be granted the right to work. But are there other visa categories available to foreign educated nurses with a diploma or associates degree equivalent?
More generally, are there other visa categories available any kind of nurse at any educational level beside H1B?
Last edit by vhs4jesus on Jan 16, '14
: Reason: grammatical error
I found a job in Kansas. The only thing I know about Kansas, then, was it's the birth place of Superman.
Actually, Superman was born on Krypton, but his escape pod spaceship crash-landed in Kansas. ;-)
Last edit by vhs4jesus on Jan 16, '14
: Reason: Add w
Jan 20, '14
vhs4jesus....As far as I am aware, aside from the TN visa, there are only 2 non immigrant visas which are options for Registered Nurses, the H1b or the EB2/3, and both require a BSN. The immigrant visa (Green Card) is a different kettle of fish altogether and I cannot answer any questions about that. Can you go back to nursing school part time or do an online BSN?
Bristolrover, I am not sure I understand the point you are making. I too have worked with many very pleasant nurses from the Phillipines. However, what I am driving at is, the process of meeting all the requirements, finding an employer to sponsor you and then actually getting your petition approved (it is very helpful to be aware of this: if you are not a Nurse Practitioner or some sort of Advanced Practice Nurse, there is a very good chance your visa petition will ultimately be DENIED if USCIS decide that the position could be filled by a nurse with a diploma or an Associate's Degree - it is up to the lawyer in charge of handling your case to compile a robust enough legal brief demonstrating that the job REQUIRES the qualifications you hold. I'm not saying that only APRNs can be candidates for a H1b, just that most of the visas granted to nurses are APRNs. I don't think people who haven't been through this, appreciate quite how difficult and challenging it is. However If you are any sort of APRN with a BSN/MSN and are applying for an APRN job that requires a BSN/MSN job, there should be no issue) ;the whole process is more complicated than ever before and is so stressful and dfficult to achieve that if you have never even been to the States and do not even know where to begin applying for jobs (what are you gonna do, apply for a thousand positions in every sinlge state? It's a huge country!) then you are making a fatal error.
I would strongly recommend VISITING America prior to making the decision to embark upon trying to emigrate there. It's just madness to put yourself through this gigantic headache to go blindly to a country you have no experience of. What if you hate it? Also I had to really impress upon my employers whilst I was in the interview statge, that I had visited that particular part of the States many times before, was familiar with the area and was determined to make that area my home because I adored it. I strongly believe, that when they asked me "why do you want to work in America? Tell us why we should offer you this job in the States?" If I had merely said, "I've never been to America actually but I'm sure I will like it once I'm working out there...and my cousin lives in here in Chicago/Miami/Oklahoma (wherever)...that's why I want to live here...." they would not have offered me the position. And they would have been right to do so IMHO.
Last edit by Dedicated.com on Jan 20, '14