How to Work as a Nurse in the US: A Guide For Foreigners

nurses in clinic

Living overseas long-term can be daunting enough, but what if you’re also looking for employment? That is the case for many nurses travelling to countries like the US for opportunities and positions, with many countries around the world in need of skilled healthcare workers as demand increases. Because the industry is constantly growing, it also brings allure for those looking to develop their nursing skills abroad. If you’re in nursing and looking to broaden your horizons, then in this blog post, we will give you an overview of what is required for a successful transition to the American workforce as a foreign nurse from NP programs in Texas and beyond.

Overview of the American Nursing System

Like any healthcare system, nursing is central to many institutions in the United States, plays an integral role in patient assessment and patient care and is the vital link between physicians, patients and families. They work in all sorts of settings that not only include hospitals but in elderly care or even in correctional facilities and are expected to possess other qualities such as compassion, communication and attention to detail.

The types of nurses in America are typically LVN or LPN (Licenced Vocational or Licenced Practical Nurses) or RN (Registered Nurse). While the LVN or LPN are more entry-level and are limited in the scope of care they can provide, they cannot perform tasks that require higher education or training. A Registered Nurse, on the other hand, typically has an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree and must pass the NCLEX-RN exam

Applying and Training as a Foreign Nurse

To apply for a nursing position as a foreigner, you’ll need to ensure that you have the appropriate qualifications, experiences and the necessary exams to get through. All states have individual requirements, and registration can differ. In this article, we will be focusing on the state of Texas.

Equivalent Qualification and Relevant Work Experience

Firstly, you will need to have an equivalent qualification and educational experience that is equivalent to the education required from an accredited nursing program in the United States. This means completing the equivalent of the Associate Degree in Nursing or the Bachelor of Science Nursing Degree or associated bridge programs to these programs are also accepted. It is also required to be registered as a nurse and have at least two years of practice in the field while being registered.

English Proficiency Tests and NCLEX-RN Exam

You must also complete the NCLEX-RN Exam, a test of knowledge and clinical skills for those aspiring to become a Registered Nurse in the United States. It is important to note that you must have a good command of the English language in order to be accepted. As such, you may need to take an approved English test like the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) to ensure you can communicate in the country.

US Working VISA Application

After these requirements are taken care of, you will need to get a working VISA so you can legally work. The VISA needs to be done before you start applying for roles since most institutions will ask for a working VISA as a prerequisite for application. This is done by applying to the State Board of Nursing in the state you wish to work. When applying, you must supply all relevant tests, examinations and work experience evidence to support the application.

Apply for Nursing Positions Matching Your Skillset

Now for the exciting part: after successfully registering with the board, you can start looking for nursing positions that match your skill set. Depending on whether you’re looking for contract work or permanent employment, you will need to take into account the different requirements and your own experience.

Do your research and make sure you are applying for roles that match your skill set. Networking is also essential to job hunting and can open up opportunities that might not be advertised. Make sure to take advantage of professional networks like the International Council of Nurses, which is a membership organisation providing resources, networking events and international forums for nurses from across the globe.


The nursing process abroad can be complicated, mainly because all jurisdictions are different, but it is manageable with the proper preparation and patience. There are thousands of other student nurses who have done the same and now have fulfilling careers working abroad. As long as you can meet the requirements and stick it out, you’ll be able to access a wide range of positions at reputable institutions. Good luck.