Frequently Asked Questions: Nurse Immigration

General Information

What are the requirements to apply to the Foreign Trained Nurse program?

  • A registered nurse license
  • A graduate degree from a three-year RN training program
  • A minimum of two years post-graduate hospital experience
  • Proficiency in the English language
  • Credible references

How do I get started?

Getting stated is easy! Simply send your resume to will help us determine you current level of skills and experience. Once we have received your information, a recruiter will be in touch with you to discuss the program.

Do I have to sign a contract as part of process?

Yes, we require that you sign a contract stating you will work for Onward Healthcare after arriving in the United States. The standard work commitment is 36 months, after which you will have variety of options available to continue your nursing career.

What types of documentation must I possess to work in America?

You will need a Permanent Residency visa (Green Card) to move to America and a U.S. Registered Nurse (RN) license to begin working in the country. You must also obtain a VisaScreen Certificate to work as a healthcare professional and have passed either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam. Some additional documentation may also required throughout the nurse immigration process. For more information, email

Registered Nurse (RN) License (NCLEX-RN Exam)

How do I get my U.S. Registered Nurse (RN) license?

In order to get your RN license and be eligible for your VisaScreen, you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination. The NCLEX is a computer-adaptive test of entry-level nursing competence. Passing the exam is required for the licensure of all candidates by all U.S. state and territorial Boards of Nursing.

Where is the NCLEX-RN exam offered?

The NCLEX examination is administered in the United States, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The NCLEX examination is also administered internationally at Pearson Professional Centers. For a complete list of international test centers, please go to or

What kind of questions will be on the NCLEX-RN exam?

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the NCLEX examination covers the following "categories of client needs":

  • Safe, Effective Care Environment
    • Management of Care
    • Safety and Infection Control
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
    • Growth and Development Through the Life Span
    • Prevention and Early Detection of Disease
  • Psychosocial Integrity
    • Coping and Adaptation
    • Psychosocial Adaptation
  • Physiological Integrity
    • Basic care and comfort
    • Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
    • Reduction of risk potential
    • Physiological Adaption

How long will the NCLEX exam take?

The NCLEX examination is a multiple choice exam which uses an interactive system called Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) to gauge your level of nursing competence. RN candidates are required to answer a minimum of 75 questions. The exam takes about five hours and you should receive your results within a month after taking the exam.

Is there a fee to take the NCLEX-RN exam?

The fee for taking the NCLEX exam is $200. If you choose to schedule your NCLEX examination at an international test center, you will have to pay an international scheduling fee of $150 plus a Value Added Tax (VAT) where applicable.

Visa for Foreign Nurses (Green Card)

How do I get my Permanent Residency visa (Green Card)?

Our immigration specialist will assist you in handling all the requirements for your Green Card once you have qualified for the program.

Why do I need a Permanent Residency visa (Green Card)?

A Green Card is proof that the holder has permission to permanently reside and take employment in the U.S. The card must be in your possession at all times.

How does the Permanent Residency (Green Card) visa process work?

After you take the NCLEX-RN exam, a tour immigration specialist will contact you to discuss the process of applying for your Green Card, as well as a VisaScreen certificate.

Are there costs for the Permanent Residency visa (Green Card)?

There are costs associated with obtainment of the visa for foreign nurses. Once your application is approved, you (and any family members who will be relocating to the U.S. with you) will be responsible for any national Visa Center (NVC) fees, as well as any Embassy fees or medical charges.

Will my family also be able to relocate?

Yes. When you apply for a Permanent Residency visa, your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 will be able to apply at the same time. They will be able to legally relocate to the United States with you once you begin your assignment.

What is a VisaScreen?

U.S. Immigration law requires that healthcare professionals, other than physicians, complete a screening program in order to work in America. Upon passing the VisaScreen, you will be issued a certificate that demonstrates to consular and immigration officials that your credentials meet the U.S. government's eligibility standards for foreign healthcare professionals.

Moving to America

Can I choose where I want to go?

Onward Healthcare has opportunities in many major markets across the country, such as New York, Houston and Los Angeles among others. We will work with you to find out which location is best for you and then match your background and preferences to a hospital in that area.

How long does it take before I can move to America?

It takes between 12 and 18 months from the time you are accepted into the program until you can begin your assignment in America.

How do I find a place to live once I am in America?

Once you have accepted a job at a hospital in the United States, a member of Onward Healthcare will help you find housing and assist with many of the arrangements.

What is the average cost of living in America?

The location where you are working, the housing options you choose and your personal lifestyle all play a part in the costs of living. Once you have locked in the details of your assignment, our team can help you plan out what many of your costs will be. One advantage is that many things in America are cheaper than other countries, including clothing, food and household products.

Working in America

How do you determine which hospital I will work at?

Our team of recruiters takes into consideration your past experience, as well as your skills, personality and long-term goals to find the right hospital for you. Both your preferences and the hospital's requirements will be taken into consideration.

What will my salary be in America?

The salaries for American nurses are among the highest in the world. You will receive a predetermined salary your first year based on the facility you are working at. You will then be eligible for an increase in salary each calendar year until your assignment is over.

Does Onward Healthcare offer benefits?

Yes, Onward Healthcare offers all its nurses a highly competitive benefits package that includes:

  • Medical insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Professional liability insurance
  • 401k (retirement planning)
  • Referral bonuses

What are the expectations from American hospitals towards their nurses?

Nursing is a well-respected field in America. As an RN you will have more independence and responsibility than you probably had working in your home country. Onward Healthcare will answer any questions you have and help you prepare for the differences you may encounter prior to the start of your assignment in America.

What happens after my contract with Onward Healthcare expires?

Here are some of the many options you will have when your assignment is complete:

  • Stay in our International Program and sign-on for another 3-year assignment
  • Join our travel nursing program and undertake a 13-week assignment anywhere in the United States
  • Work with an Onward Healthcare recruiter to find a permanent job in the location of your choice
  • Return home to your country with the skills and practices you developed

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