For Canadian RNs: How to immigrate to NY State

  1. 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 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 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 | 44 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

    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!
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    About CanuckRN2

    Joined: Apr '13; Posts: 7; Likes: 4


  3. by   Silverdragon102

    I would just like to point out that #6 isn't 100% correct as you can not work in the US until you have the TN visa. At this point you have meet all bar one criteria and the last criteria is employer. Yes you can legally apply for jobs but until you get the employer's letter and go to the border and TN is issued can you legally work
  4. by   rissss
    You are actually me hero for posting this. I have been racking my brain trying to figure it out. I have emailed the NYS nursing board and their response was just copied and pasted what their website says. Did you have to complete your child abuse and infection control requirements that is listed in their website or were you able to exempt because you're out of country?
  5. by   jenn8500
    Hey CanuckRN,

    I'm just wondering what area of nursing you have experience in and how many years of experience you have? I am also Canadian and would like to work in NYS! I'm already working in the U.S. in a different state and I have a NY license.
  6. by   elkpark
    Quote from rissss
    You are actually me hero for posting this. I have been racking my brain trying to figure it out. I have emailed the NYS nursing board and their response was just copied and pasted what their website says. Did you have to complete your child abuse and infection control requirements that is listed in their website or were you able to exempt because you're out of country?
    The required courses are available on line -- why would someone be exempt from basic licensure requirements just because s/he is applying from outside the US?
  7. by   FAB5000
    Has anyone had success endorsing their license from Minnesota to New York state? Did they require a SSN for New York board of nursing? I'm guessing you need the CGFNS' Credential Verification Service for New York State, but I don't want to pay the $390 to find out I can not get a license. Someone from my undergrad program can't endorse to California due to a lack of maternity hours. Has anyone heard of this effecting New York licensing??

    Thanks for you time!
  8. by   Silverdragon102
    US SSN isn't required by NY BON and yes CVS is required by all International trained nurse whether initial or endorsing license application
  9. by   Krystal Bonnet
    I thought RN jobs were plenty in canada and NYC was overly saturated (like you stated above) so why would you want to come here? (just curious)
  10. by   Silverdragon102
    Quote from Krystal Bonnet
    I thought RN jobs were plenty in canada and NYC was overly saturated (like you stated above) so why would you want to come here? (just curious)
    Not really the case anymore. In fact some provinces it is very hard unless you go rural to find jobs for nurses especially RN
  11. by   tosca rose
    Great post
  12. by   Simonesays
    Thanks so much for this post CanuckRN2! I am in the same situation (Vancouver to NY) and your experience/advice has been very helpful!

    I don't know if anyone has gone through this process would be able to message me (or leave a comment with some advice) but I am hoping to find out some ways to make myself a more desirable candidate. By the time I plan to immigrate, I will have over 2 years of acute care experience. However, after reading the NY posts, I am aware of how competitive the job market in the city is.

    I recently took the TNCC and am planning to do my ACLS next month. Are there any other certificates that anyone could recommend?

    What is the job application process like? Did you hear back from recruiters/hospitals that you applied to? How long did it take you to find work?

    Does anyone have experience with travel nursing? It is not the way I'd ideally like to find work but I'm willing to explore my options!

    Thanks so much for any and all advice!
  13. by   joellenyc
    I'm reading this thread 1 year later and have the same questions about job searching - i just moved from Canada to do a psych NP program and also need to find work.
    Wondering if you can let me know if 1 year later your questions were answered and you have a job?
  14. by   Simonesays
    Hi! Ugh. I won't bore you with a rant about the lengthy immigration process to move to NY. I just recently received my license from NY State and have applied for the visa screen. I'm still in Canada but am hoping to move by Oct (which is probably an unrealistic goal considering how long everything else has taken). So, to be honest, I haven't even been able to apply for jobs yet! I didn't hear back from the original poster but one of my bf's friends is an advanced practice psych nurse. He is from NY state (so this might be different if you are Canadian) but he said that he has received many job offers just from his linked in profile alone. There are lots of job postings online but I hear that the market is still competitive. You will have an edge, though, once you are finished your NP! What type of nursing work are you looking for now? If you are doing your NP in NY, I would recommend talking to your school to see if they can help. Are you American or Canadian? If you're a Canadian, I would be careful about looking for work depending on your visa situation (i.e. it sounds like you're doing your NP studies there- just make sure you can work while on a student visa). Good luck!!