In USA, nurses can work on work visas (H-1B and H-1C), but this is not the best option. Firstly, the number of issued work visas is limited, and secondly, this status is unstable, given at some specified period, and thirdly, there is a number of specific criteria for issuing visas, which are not always easy (and possible) to meet . The process of obtaining VisaScreen Certificate is quite long, so one is recommended to start preparation for it with plenty of time. Also, keep in mind the exams providing necessary knowledge of English are also difficult and take time.
A candidate should successfully pass one of the following exams:
1) Test of English as a second language – Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); Test of Written English (TWE); and Test of Spoken English (TSE), OR
2) English language proficiency exams administrated by the English Language Institute (ELI): Parts 1 through 3 of the Michigan English Language Assessment battery (MELAB) and Oral Interview Section of MELAB.
The process of obtaining permanent residence status may generally take from one to two years. There are queues for several countries – India, China and the Philippines.
If a nurse is in the US, the process is greatly accelerated. First, a nurse can pass an exam for a license, offered only by United States (including Guam and Saipan). Secondly, the hospital or doctor's office submits a petition to the INS, not National Visa Center.
This means the answer to petition comes directly to the hospital or office, which greatly increases speed of the process. Third, after approval of immigrant petition, a nurse and her family members may submit a package of applications for change of status for permanent residence. This means a nurse and her family get a work permit, social security number and permission to leave and return to the United States. Of course, VisaScreen Certificate remains a necessity, but one can get it much easier.
We hope this information will be useful for nurses thinking about immigration to the United States.