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Navigating the TN Visa Process for Canadian Nurses: A Step-by-Step Guide to Travel Nursing Opportunities in the USA

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Are you a Canadian nurse with a passion for travel and nursing? If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a travel nurse in the USA, the TN visa process could be your ticket to an exciting and rewarding career. As a Canadian nurse, you may be eligible to work in the USA on a temporary basis under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through the TN visa program. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of obtaining a TN visa and highlight important considerations, including state nurse licensing requirements and CGFNS check.


  1. Understand the TN Visa Eligibility Requirements: The TN visa is available to Canadian and Mexican citizens who work in certain professional occupations, including registered nurses. To be eligible for a TN visa as a registered nurse, you must meet specific requirements, such as possessing a Canadian nursing degree or an equivalent foreign nursing degree, having a job offer from a US employer for a temporary position, and providing evidence of your qualifications and credentials.

  2. Research State Nurse Licensing: Requirements In addition to the TN visa requirements, it’s crucial to understand the state nurse licensing requirements in the USA. Each state has its own set of licensing requirements, and you’ll need to meet those requirements to practice as a registered nurse in that state. This includes completing an application, providing transcripts of your nursing education, passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), and meeting other state-specific requirements. It’s essential to research and understand the licensing requirements of the state where you plan to work as a travel nurse. Some states require a Social Security Number (SSN) prior to working in that state and therefore you must choose a state without that requirement for your first assignment.

  3. Complete the CGFNS Credentials Evaluation: As a Canadian nurse, you need to complete a credentials evaluation through the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) to verify the equivalency of your foreign nursing education. Many US employers and state boards of nursing require CGFNS evaluation to ensure that your nursing education meets US standards. The CGFNS evaluation process involves submitting your nursing education transcripts, providing additional documentation, and undergoing a comprehensive review of your credentials before issuing you a VisaScreen which is required for your TN application. You should be aware that CGFNS credentials evaluation process can take up to a few months to complete, so it is best to start as early as possible.

  4. Obtain a Job Offer: To apply for a TN visa, you’ll need a job offer from a US healthcare facility and be employed though a staffing company such as Compound Healthcare for a temporary position. The job offer should be in writing and include details such as your job title, job duties, duration of the assignment, and compensation. Compound Healthcare will also to provide you with a support letter that outlines how you meet the TN visa requirements and how the position qualifies under the NAFTA agreement.

  5. Prepare and Submit TN Visa Application: Once you have a job offer and have completed the necessary research on state nurse licensing requirements and CGFNS evaluation, you can start preparing your TN visa application. This involves acquiring Form I-94 and paying the visa application fee after an interview at a US port of entry. You will be required to bring all the required documents, including your passport, supporting letter from your employer, CGFNS evaluation report (if applicable), and other supporting documents. You will need to do this within two weeks of your start date and enter the US from Canada directly after you receive the TN Visa.

  6. Attend TN Visa Interview and Obtain TN Visa: The TN visa interview is a crucial step in the process. During the interview, you’ll need to provide evidence of your eligibility for the TN visa and answer questions about your nursing qualifications, job offer, and intentions in the USA. If your application is approved, you’ll receive a TN visa stamp in your passport, which allows you to travel to the USA and work as a registered nurse for the specified employer and duration of the assignment. TN Visas can range in years of validity, however in our experience they are currently being granted for three years at which point you can decide to renew by undergoing the same process.

  7. Start Your Travel Nursing Assignment: With your TN visa and state nursing license in hand, you’re now ready to start your travel nursing assignment in the USA! As a travel nurse, you’ll have the opportunity to work in different healthcare facilities, explore new places, and experience diverse cultures. You’ll also enjoy the benefits of competitive compensation, including hourly pay rates, stipends for housing, meals, and transportation, and other perks such as healthcare and retirement benefits.

  8. Maintain TN Visa Status and State Nursing License: As a travel nurse on a TN visa, it’s important to maintain your visa status and comply with the regulations set forth by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This includes maintaining your employment with the specific employer and duration mentioned in your TN visa, ensuring that your job duties align with the TN visa category, and renewing your TN visa or changing your employer if needed. Additionally, you’ll need to comply with the state nursing license requirements, including renewing your license periodically and fulfilling any continuing education or other obligations.


In conclusion, pursuing a travel nursing career in the USA as a Canadian nurse requires navigating the TN visa process, understanding state nurse licensing requirements, and completing CGFNS evaluation if applicable. By following the steps outlined in this post and ensuring compliance with the regulations, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a travel nurse in the USA and enjoy the opportunities and benefits that come with it. Compound Healthcare specializes in assisting Canadian nurses interested in a career in US travel nursing and would be happy to help you start your journey today!
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