How does a nurse obtain an immigrant visa to the U.S.?
The Immigration Act of 1990 (IMACT 1990), and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), retained nurses on schedule A, Group I. Congress, by doing this, has determined that there are not sufficient nurses to satisfy the national shortage, which has become quite acute. This means that an employer wishing to bring a foreign nurse to the United States, does not have to file a labor certification application with the local Department of Labor office, and have it approved, before filing an application for an immigrant visa with the INS.
As codified in the Immigration and Nationality Act section 212 (a)(5)(c), any alien seeking to be employed as a healthcare worker other than a physician, must present to the consular officer, a certified statement from the Commission on Graduate Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). The statement certifies that the nurse’s qualifications are the equivalent to that of a nurse from an American nursing school. It is also required that the nurse take and pass all three sections of the Test of English as a Foreign Language Exam (TOEFL). The only nurses exempted from the requirement are nurses who possess licenses from the following countries: Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Although English is the language in Jamaica, licensed nurses must still take the TOEFL as Jamaica is not on the exempted list of countries.
Describe the process for obtaining an immigrant visa for a nurse.
First, as outlined before, the applicant must have a full license to practice nursing in Jamaica. The applicant must first take and pass the CGFNS exam, the TOEFL and have a credentials evaluation done by the International Commission of Healthcare Professionals (ICHP). When the applicant passes all the exams and the evaluation of the nursing license is complete, the CGFNS will grant the applicant a certificate, certifying that the applicant’s credentials are the equivalent to that of a U.S. worker.
The employer then files a petition for alien worker, form ETA 750 (certifying that a nurse is on schedule A, Group I labor shortage list) and the CGFNS certificate along with other documentation, to the INS. Once the I-140 is approved, an immigrant visa will be issued to the consular office having jurisdiction over where the applicant lives.
The applicant, does not have to take the TOEFL or the CGFNS exam before the employer files an I-140 for the applicant, if the applicant is already in the U.S. If the applicant is still in Jamaica, the documents must be filed together before an immigrant visa can be granted.
Sean Keane-Dawes is an Attorney At Law, whose firm specializes in the area of Immigration and Nationality laws. An immigrant himself, Mr. Keane-Dawes is especially sensitive to the needs of immigrants and the long arduous process of getting and staying in the United States. His practice is limited to Federal Law, specifically Immigration Law. He is a member of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the Massachusetts and New Jersey state bars. You may contact Mr. Keane-Dawes at: [email protected] or call him at 1-866-skd-law1, 1-866-753-5291.