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Employment-Based Petitions

Permanent Residency Or Green Card Through Employer:

A green card can be obtained through a U.S.-based employer. Certain conditions must be met to hire an alien worker.
1. The worker must be needed to perform a highly skilled job that requires a college degree or years of experience;
2. The employer must prove to the U.S. Department of Labor that there is a shortage of U.S. or permanent resident workers available to perform the work, as the result of which the employer needs the alien worker to fill the position;
3. The job must be advertised in a local newspaper for three consecutive days, and all resumes in response to the advertisements must be sent to the Department of Labor. If no qualified U.S. citizen or permanent resident applicant applies, the "Alien Labor Certification" is approved, which allows the employer to file for the alien’s green card;
4. The employer must pay the prevailing wage to U.S. citizens or permanent resident workers who perform the same work; and
5. An alien worker can file for himself only if he falls into the category of an alien of extraordinary ability, such as someone who is internationally famous in the artistic or scientific fields.


Schedule A workers who have been pre-certified by the Department of Labor as a shortage profession:
1. Registered Nurses

The U.S. is currently experiencing a severe shortage of nurses. This shortage is opening up opportunities for foreign educated and trained nurses to immigrate to the US on Green Cards.
Under the present law, H-1B visas can only be done for specialized nurses such as Head Nurse, Case Plan Coordinators or nurses with additional training necessary to do advanced procedures.
In order work as a registered nurse in the US and be eligible for a Green Card, the foreign nurse must have the following qualifications:
i) A degree from a nursing school;
ii) A license to work as a registered nurse;
iii) A license to work as a registered nurse in the US or a certificate that the foreign nurse has passed the exam given by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).
Green Cards for nurses are currently being done on the fast track. The Department of Labor has listed Registered Nurses along with Physical Therapists as shortage occupations; Green Cards for Registered Nurses are exempt from the Alien Labor Certification requirements. The Alien Labor Certification Processing in some states in the US can take in excess of two years.
In order to start the Green Card process, an Immigration Application is filed with the USCIS in respect of the foreign registered nurse. Upon approval of the Immigration Application; the USCIS forwards the Approved Petition to the National Visa Center at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The National Visa Center in turn will forward the Approved Petition to the US consulate where the foreign registered nurse will be interviewed for the Green Card.
The Process:

1. Visa Screen Certificate : apply for the candidate’s Visa Screen Certificate; once scores from the TOEFL, TSE or IELTS have been submitted to the Commission of Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), along with education and license requirements are satisfied, the Visa Screen Certificate will be issued. The Visa Screen Certificate is required by the U.S. Consulate at the time of the interview.

A VisaScreen Certificate is issued only after the RN has demonstrated that (1) her education, license and training in her country are equivalent to education, licensure and training in the U.S. and that

(2) her level of competence in oral and written English are appropriate to practice professional nursing in the U.S. The USCIS regulations provide that the only organization authorized to issue VisaScreen certificates to RNs is the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). The USCIS's VisaScreen regulations provide that even if a foreign-born RN is educated, licensed and trained in the U.S., she still must obtain a VisaScreen certificate. However, such RNs may be able to obtain a certificate on a streamlined basis. Obtaining such a certificate requires a significant expenditure of time, effort and money (over $300) on the part of the nurse.

Unless the nurse was educated in an English-speaking country (U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, United Kingdom or Canada - all provinces except Quebec), she must achieve a certain minimum score on tests in written and spoken English administered by TOEFL (Test Of English As A Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) or the TOEIC (Test of English in International Communications). Also, if the RN registered for the MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery) before November 27, 2002, this result may be sent to the CGFNS for VisaScreen purposes.

Passing scores for RNs on English exams are as follows:
IELTS: Academic Module or the General Training Module 6.5, Overall Band Score, 7.0 Speaking
TOEFL: Paper-Based 540; TOEFL Computer-Based 207; Test of Written English (TWE) 4.0; Test of Spoken English (TSE) 50.
TOEIC: 725; plus TWE: 4.0 and TSE: 50
Information about taking the TOEFL, and TOEIC examinations may be obtained from their web sites. They are all offered worldwide.
MELAB: Passing scores for the MELAB were as follows: Final Score 79+; Oral Interview 3+.
2. Immigrant Visa Petition: file the immigrant visa petition with the USCIS and obtain a case number. When USCIS processes the petition, it will either approve the petition or request additional information if necessary.
3. National Visa Center: will then complete and file the required forms and supporting documents with the National Visa Center.
4. Consular Interview: Once the National Visa Center forwards the completed file to the local U.S. Consulate, you will then receive an appointment for the visa interview, and the issuance of the immigrant visa (“green card”) to be admitted into the United States.


If the Registered Nurse (RN) is in the United States, he or she will be able to start working more expeditiously than if he or she resides abroad, usually within 5 to 6 months.

The RN is required to present to the USCIS many of the same documents as stated later in this article. However, since he or she is in the U.S., she may take the RN licensing examination (officially known as the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses or the “NCLEX-RN”) in any state. The NCLEX-RN is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. For more information regarding the exam, see http://www.ncsbn.org. This web site contains contact information for nurse licensing boards in each state.

An immigrant visa petition to the appropriate USCIS Service Center will be submitted on behalf of the nurse. In order for the visa petition to be approved, the RN must have passed either the CGFNS exam or the NCLEX exam, or be in possession of a "full and unrestricted license" as an RN in the state of intended employment.


If the RN resides abroad, the following steps must be completed before the nurse may be employed in the U.S.:
1. The RN must be in possession of:
a. A diploma from a nursing school in her country;
b. An RN license in her country; AND
c. A full and 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.

(Although some states require that foreign nurses pass the CGFNS examination before taking the state RN licensing (NCLEX) examination, the number of such states is on the decline. This is because, as of January 2005, it became possible to take the NCLEX abroad in (1) Hong Kong; (2) London, England; or (3) Seoul, Korea. On January 24, 2006, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) announced that within the next year, it will be possible to take the NCLEX in Australia, India, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Germany and Taiwan as well as the three locations named above. In addition, RNs residing abroad may take the NCLEX in Guam and Saipan).

2. The immigration process begins when employer submits an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) to the service center of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) having jurisdiction over the nurse’s place of intended employment.

3. The USCIS sends the approved visa petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The NVC send a "fee bill" to you requesting all government processing fees to be paid in advance of processing the visa application and those of the candidate’s immediate family members. After the fees are paid, the NVC forwards a packet to you requesting the immigrant visa application and other supporting documentation which must be executed by you.

4. Once the signed and completed forms and documents are received by the the NVC, the NVC then sends the file to the local U.S. consulate. The candidate and his or her immediate family members will then be scheduled for an appointment for an Immigrant Visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy where they will have their interviews for permanent residence. At this interview, the government will examine various documents including:

a. Applications for Immigrant Visas
b. Police Clearances
c. Birth Certificates
d. Marriage Certificate, if any
e. Divorce or Death Certificate of Spouse, if any
f. Valid Passports
g. Medical Examinations
h. Photographs
i. Offer of employment
j. Financial information regarding employer
k. Government filing fees
l. VisaScreen Certificate
Generally, the process of obtaining permanent residence may take between 12 to 18 months assuming that the immigrant visa quota from the RN’s country of birth is not backlogged.