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How to obtain a U.S. nursing license

Working as a registered nurse (RN) in the United States is a challenging but rewarding process, especially for international nurses. There are a number of steps that must be taken in order to obtain a nursing license in the U.S., but with careful planning and preparation, it is possible to achieve this goal.

Step 1: CGFNS registration and evaluation

The State Boards of Nursing in the U.S. require all international nurses to undergo an academic and professional credentials evaluation with CGFNS International. This evaluation checks that documents and certifications are authentic, as well as confirming that your nursing qualification and education is comparable to U.S. nursing standards. You may also be required to take the CGFNS Qualifying Exam® to satisfy state board and immigration requirements.

To begin the CGFNS process, you’ll need to register with them. Click here to generate a username, password, and CGFNS number.

CGFNS will let you know when the English Language requirement is needed. If it is already completed, you will need to upload your results to your CGFNS Portal when requested.

Once you have your CGFNS account information, place an order with them for a Credentials Evaluation Service Professional Report®. When ordering this report, be sure that the recipient of the report is the Board of Nursing in the state you want to work in.

Step 2: Apply to the State Board

Next, you will need to apply to the Board of Nursing in the state you wish to work in. Go to the NCSBN website, click on your desired state and proceed to their website to complete the application process.

You should be studying for the NCLEX exam between steps 3 and 4.

Step 3: Register with Pearson VUE

Payment and scheduling for the NCLEX exam is done through Pearson VUE. Please note – your Pearson VUE registration is valid for 365 days.

Step 4: Completion of CGFNS evaluation

Once CGFNS has completed your credentials evaluation, they will notify the Board of Nursing in your chosen state. Please make sure you do not have outstanding documents with the Board you applied for. This will delay the process.

If you’ve already taken and passed the NCLEX exam, skip to step 7.

Step 5: Authorization to Test (ATT)

The NCLEX Authorization to Test (ATT) is issued by the State Boards of Nursing. You will receive this via email. Once received, log into your Pearson VUE account and schedule your NCLEX exam. You cannot schedule your NCLEX exam before you receive the Authorization to Test.

Step 6: NCLEX exam

Take the NCLEX exam on your scheduled date and await your results.

Step 7: Obtain your U.S. nursing license

Providing you pass the NCLEX exam, your U.S. nursing license will be administered once the Board receives your results and verifies your certifications. Congratulations!

Interested in living and working in the U.S.?

Thornbury Nursing is looking for experienced international nurses to relocate to the U.S. for a minimum of 2 years (or permanently). You can bring your family along and we will support you throughout the entire relocation process, including NCLEX preparation, visa application(s) and more. Learn more here.

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