Guide for Foreign Nurses
If you are a licensed nurse in another country, this guide will help you in becoming a registered nurse in the U.S. Licensure requirements differ from state to state. Please check links to specific state for more details.
1. The RN must be in possession of:
- A diploma from a nursing school in his/her country;
- 2 or more years experience;
- An RN license in home country; and
- An unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the state of intended employment, or a certification issued by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), or evidence that she has passed the NCLEX-RN licensing examination but cannot obtain a license because she lacks a social security number.
- Some states require that foreign nurses pass the CGFNS examination before taking the state RN licensing (NCLEX) examination; however, the number of states is declining. This is because, it now possible to take the NCLEX outside of U.S. The examination is offered in Australia (Sydney), Canada (Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver), Great Britain (London), Hong Kong, India (Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi), Japan (Chiyoda-ku and Yokohama), Korea (Seoul), Germany (Frankfurt), Mexico (Mexico City), Philippines (Manila) and Taiwan (Taipei). In addition, RNs may take the NCLEX in Puerto Rico, Guam and Saipan.
For nurses educated outside of the United States, the first step to becoming a nurse in the United States is to apply for a license with a state board of nursing. While the NCLEX® examination is required by all state boards for licensure, every state board has its own requirements to determine educational comparability of those educated outside of the United States. Most boards require a service that can be provided by CGFNS International prior to authorizing nurses educated outside of the United States to sit for the NCLEX® exam.
Check with the individual board web sites for the full details of what is required to apply for licensure.
Brief description of each service:
Certification Program (CP) The Certification Program includes the CGFNS Qualifying Exam® for first-level, general nurses; a credentials evaluation of secondary and nursing education and registration; demonstration of passing one of the accepted English language proficiency exams. When successfully completed, applicants receive the CGFNS Certification Program Certificate, whereby, an official verification can be sent to the respective state board requiring this assessment as a prerequisite for authorization to sit for the NCLEX® exam. The CGFNS Certification Program Certificate is valid for life.
Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Professional Report meets the specific requirements of individual state boards of nursing. The CES Professional Report provides a detailed analysis of the credentials earned at multiple levels of nursing education received outside the United States according to requirements specific to a state. The Report includes a statement of comparability of an applicant’s education when measured against U.S. standards.
Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Academic Report is designed to meet the needs of applicants pursuing further education in U.S. institutions of higher learning. The CES Academic Report provides a detailed analysis of the nursing education received outside the United States. The Report is advisory in nature and does not make specific placement recommendations.
VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment (VS) certification is a comprehensive screening program for health care professionals who are not U.S. citizens and are seeking an occupational visa to work in the United States. The VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Service requires specific health care professionals complete a screening program before they can receive either a permanent or temporary occupational visa, including Trade NAFTA status:
- An assessment of an applicant’s education to ensure that it is comparable to that of a U.S. graduate in the same profession
- A verification that all professional health care licenses that an applicant ever held are valid and without restrictions
- An English language proficiency examination
- For registered nurses only, a verification that the nurse has passed either the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®, NCLEX-RN® or for select years and Providences its predecessor, the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE).
Applicants who successfully complete VisaScreen® receive an official ICHP Certificate for the VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Service, which satisfies the United States Federal screening requirements. ICHP (International Commission on Healthcare Professions) is a division of CGFNS International.
Credential Verification Service for New York State (CVS) verifies the authenticity of international education and licensure credentials for the State of New York. The Service is for those health care professionals educated outside the United States who wish to practice in New York. As specified by the state, CGFNS International completes a verification of foreign education and credentials. New York State Education Department then completes the actual evaluation of the verified credentials.