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Pursuing a Nursing Career in the US: Licensure, NCLEX, and Visa Considerations in 2023

The United States has long been a desirable destination for international nurses seeking professional growth and diverse healthcare experiences. However, navigating the process of obtaining licensure, taking the NCLEX exam, and securing the appropriate visa can be complex and overwhelming. Here, we will discuss the key considerations for nurses planning to come to the US in 2023, focusing on licensure requirements, the NCLEX exam, and visa options.


Licensure Requirements

To practice nursing in the US, foreign-educated nurses must obtain licensure from the state where they intend to work. The licensure process typically involves several steps, including:


a. Credential Evaluation

International education credentials must be evaluated by a recognized credentialing agency to determine their equivalence to US educational standards. Organizations such as the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) provide these evaluation services.


b. Educational Requirements

Most states require foreign-educated nurses to complete additional educational requirements if their training is deemed deficient in certain areas. This may involve taking additional courses or completing a bridging program.


c. English Language Proficiency

Nurses must demonstrate proficiency in English by taking an approved English language test such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).



The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a standardized exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to assess the competence of entry-level nurses in the US. Foreign-educated nurses must pass the NCLEX to obtain their nursing license.


a. Exam Preparation

It is crucial for nurses to prepare thoroughly for the NCLEX exam. This may involve enrolling in review courses, utilizing study materials, and practicing with sample questions. Several online resources and review programs are available to assist with exam preparation.


b. Registration and Scheduling

After meeting the eligibility requirements, nurses can register for the NCLEX exam through the NCSBN website. Once registered, they can schedule their exam at a Pearson VUE testing center.


Visa Options:

To work legally in the US as a foreign-educated nurse, obtaining the appropriate visa is essential. The most common visa options for nurses include:


a. H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa allows employers to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. However, obtaining an H-1B visa for nursing can be challenging due to visa availability and specific requirements.


b. TN Visa

The TN visa is available to Canadian and Mexican nurses under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It requires a job offer from a US employer and proof of qualifications.


c. EB-3 Visa

The EB-3 visa category is for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers. Nurses fall under the "Skilled Worker" subcategory. This visa requires an employer sponsor and may involve a lengthy wait due to visa backlogs.


d. Green Card

The Green Card, or lawful permanent residency, allows foreign-educated nurses to live and work permanently in the US. Obtaining a Green Card typically involves employer sponsorship or family-based sponsorship.


To wrap up

Embarking on a nursing career in the US requires careful planning and a thorough understanding of licensure requirements, the NCLEX exam, and visa options. Aspiring nurses should research state-specific licensure requirements, engage in comprehensive NCLEX exam preparation, and explore various visa options based on their individual circumstances. Seeking guidance from immigration attorneys and nursing regulatory bodies can provide valuable assistance throughout the process. With the right preparation and perseverance, international nurses can pursue their professional goals and contribute to the dynamic healthcare landscape in the United States in a meaningful and impactful way. By staying informed and proactive, aspiring nurses can navigate the complexities of licensure, excel in the NCLEX exam, and secure the appropriate visa to establish their nursing career in the US. With dedication, determination, and support from the nursing community, international nurses can make a positive difference in healthcare, provide high-quality patient care, and embrace the rewarding opportunities that await them in the United States. If you need assistance when it comes to these documents, please don't hesitate to leave your details here and a consultant will get back to you.