Choosing a career in nursing can provide a ticket to many things, including the opportunity to work in the United States - a dream destination for many foreign nurses, especially those coming from developing countries.
While some international nurses on an F1 visa will return to their home country after graduation, many will look to remain in the US and enter the nursing profession.
The US promotes multiple cultures to work together within its borders and has been importing nurses for the last 50 years.
The path will vary depending on whether you’re a graduate or are still in nursing school. Typically, the process will be F1 Visa - Employment Authorization Document (EAD) - OPT (Optional Training Program) - H1B - EB3 (Green Card Visa).
The ideal time to research sponsorship opportunities is while studying/ during your last year of nursing school. After graduation, you will be faced with many important decisions and events such as the pinning ceremony, NCLEX, graduation, placement tests, or your lease might be coming to an end. The last thing you want is to try and fit in time to speak with different agencies and find time for interviews.
Take some time to update your CV before you graduate. Most healthcare providers will accept student applications with the condition that they become licensed and pass their exams. With the help of your advisors and faculty, you can get a jump start on your applications which will help you stand out from the crowd. This will also ensure that you don’t have a gap between graduation and when you start working.
In the U.S., after graduation, you need an employment authorization document (EAD) to start working on Optional Practical Training (OPT) lawfully. With F1 status, you’re allowed up to 12 months of OPT at each educational level (undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate), as long as the work is related to your field of study.
You can apply for OPT from 90 days before graduation/completion of your studies and up to 60 days post-graduation - as long as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receive your application before the end of the 60 days. Something to bear in mind when applying is that it takes an average of 120 days for OPT to be approved.
If you’re in your final year of nursing school in the U.S. or have graduated and are ready to build a growing nursing career in the US, join our Greenstaff International community of new graduates who work at top hospitals throughout the country.