Canadian RN moving to California - Licensing help please!

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My wife and I are Canadian and I'm moving to California for work. She is an RN who passed the NCLEX in 2016, and has worked for about a year in a Canadian hospital. We're trying to navigate the process of getting her licensed in California but it's been a bit challenging. Our understanding:

  1. She can't apply to be licensed in California with out a SSN.
  2. She can't get an SSN without a job.
  3. She can't get a job without being licensed.

The work around we've read about is that you get licensed in another state that doesn't require an SSN to become licensed, and then obtain licensure via endorsement.

The odd thing about the application forms for licensure via endorsement is that they explicitly support a transfer from Canada, but require an SSN or ITIN. Would a simpler way of doing this be to apply for an ITIN and then apply directly to the CA BON? We have one friend who recently applied to the CA BON without an SSN or ITIN and their license was granted, and they seemed to think it was no big deal.

I was previously licensed in NY in 2019, so I knew all the requirements (or could estimate really well), so I submitted my application and then started the process of having all my documents sent in at the same time (ie. Canadian NCLEX results, transcripts, licenses from various provinces/ states, fingerprints, etc). I submitted my application early October and heard from them mid November about everything that was needed, which was fairly quick. I had most of my documents all submitted by Early December, but I wasn't added to the "qeue" to be reviewed by the evaluator until I called the beginning of January. I sent in some documents from CGFNS, which it sent through an electronic portal not the mail and the only person who could see this was my international evaluator. I emailed her and then she added me to the lineup for review (takes up to 8 weeks for this). So, long story short- they do not check frequently if you have all documents submitted so you need to follow closely. NY state took my just over 6 months, I was hopeful this would be quicker as I sent in all my documents at the same time I sent in my application, but it doesn't seem to be working that way.


CA and CGFNS seems like a black box, where every time you call you get a different answer. My international evaluator would answer my questions but this one, she either ignored or did not respond. In fear of delaying the process I had my NCLEX sent in (I completed in AB, not ON, so a little cheaper). I did not send in my license from CNO though, I had CGFNS send that in. 


I may have better answers in the next month about what worked, if you want to check back in. I know it's a frustrating and expensive process all around. 

Specializes in Medical - Surgical/ General Surgery/ICU.
23 minutes ago, NYnurse said:

I may have better answers in the next month about what worked, if you want to check back in. I know it's a frustrating and expensive process all around. 

Please keep me posted. 

On 2/11/2021 at 12:00 PM, NYnurse said:

Hi! I am currently in the process of waiting for my documents to be reviewed. However, I was assigned an International evaluator who explained the process a bit better. CGFNS can send an eDas to CA via an electronic portal. The international evaluators have access to this, not the frontline people who answer the phones at CA BON. She approved for my transcripts and licensing to come from CGFNS, however I still needed to send in my NCLEX results/ initial RN license approval from the original board of nursing. I also had my university send in the degree breakdown because the evaluator was vague on whether this would be accepted (basically she would not say yes until she saw what the complete form said) and I wanted to be safer. 

hi there,

which school did you attend for your nursing degree? Are you concerned about any deficiencies?

Hi! I went to the University of Calgary and had no deficiencies. I have gone through this process now with NY state and CA, neither had any issues.


In general, Canadian nurses have way more clinical time than American trained nurses in school. Also in the US you can also get your RN license without a bachelor's degree, so I feel most Canadian nurses shouldn't have issues with deficiencies in their schooling. 

On 2/11/2021 at 5:42 PM, hypnotizer90 said:

Please keep me posted. 

Hi! I spoke with my advisor and everything for my CA license has been approved. So I used CGFNS edas for all my documents except my NY license, proof of NCLEX and fingerprints.


Best of luck! 

Specializes in Medical - Surgical/ General Surgery/ICU.
5 hours ago, NYnurse said:

Hi! I spoke with my advisor and everything for my CA license has been approved. So I used CGFNS edas for all my documents except my NY license, proof of NCLEX and fingerprints.

Good to know. I am still waiting for the BRN to list the requirements I needed to submit. 


This helped me a lot. I have all my documents and I do have a job offer in Cali. However I cannot get my Ontario License Endorsed because I need SSN number which I don't have. Im waiting to see if I should book my flight to US to get my TN visa at the border but Im scared the officer say “you are not licensed in California how are you going to work there as a nurse if your job offer is starting in 4 days…?” 

Im not sure if you will see this but I would appreciate the help!



I wouldn't book a flight to California, but maybe drive across the border in Ontario just for the day? Even if you get your TN, and then get a SSN, the California board of nursing is so slow with processing licenses that you won't get one in 4 days. I would notify the hospital the steps you are currently taking, and get them to extend your start date until you have your CA license. 

Thanks so much for this answer! 
okay so you think they will issue me the TN visa without the CA license? 
If so can I enter USA with the issued TN visa in order to find a place to stay and all that until I receive my Licence Endorsement from California Board of nursing and start working? 
I have informed my employer about this so they can provide me with some extra time. 

Once again thanks SO much!

@Romina Bakhtiari I agree with @westcoastlife. I would not suggest booking a flight. If you can, drive to the border. Some officers will be dicks but you should be able to get a stamp at the border. Depending on your deficiencies, you may be asked by the board to do additional schooling. I had to do 1 years worth of classes, then about 6 months wait until my license got approved - good luck.

In addition to my above comment, once you get passed the border, ask the agent where the closest "SSN" building is. You will go there to apply for an SSN. They didn't really bother me with questions and it was a very smooth process. Make sure you provide a US address for them to mail your SSN to

Specializes in Peds.

Hi hopping on : 

So I am currently in a similar predicament: 

I decided to get my WA state license and work in WA for as short a time as possible so I can then obtain an SSN as WA hires without and then when I get one I was going to apply for my CA license.

Are you telling me that you can skip this step??? 

I wasn't going to move to CA until I had the actual job etc 

Oh and I'm Canadian and already have my WA nursing license and TN visa screen done. I am currently interviewing for WA jobs.

Which I'm OK with as it may be a better transition but I do want to get to CA asap for many reasons LOL 


I do think you need a job before starting this process. A lot of the steps in the process will ask for an offer letter, such as at the border when getting a Visa stamp

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