I have a BSN from the Philippines and want to work in the U.S., but I never took my boards or worked as a nurse. Can you give me some direction?

By | 2022-02-11T11:23:42-05:00 February 25th, 2010|48 Comments


Dear Donna,

I graduated with my BSN in the Philippines in 1995. I was hired in the Philippines for a job that didn’t require a nurse license. I married an American citizen two years ago and now have my permanent residency card. I intend to work as a nurse here and am trying to get some direction about how to go about practicing in my profession. I tried to contact the Maryland Board of Nursing for advice, and they sent me a link to your Web page as their reply. I hope you can help me with this.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Nanette,

If I understand you correctly, you graduated from nursing school in 1995 in the Philippines, never took the board exam and never worked as nurse. You now want to become a licensed RN in Maryland. If that is the case, start by reading the information on the Maryland Board of Nursing Web site for nurses who were educated outside of the U.S. at www.mbon.org/main.php?v=norm=0=licensure/foreign_lic_process.html. You’ll see that in addition to submitting an application to take the NCLEX exam, you must have your education credentials verified by CGFNS (www.cgfns.org). Likewise, you will be required to take an English language test, etc. The CGFNS site and resources will be very helpful to you with all of this. You also can call and e-mail them for help. Once you have received your license, you will need to take a refresher course that includes clinical experience with a preceptor.

You are fortunate that there is a very large and active community of Filipino nurses in the U.S. They will help and support you in this journey. Contact the Maryland chapter of the Philippine Nurses Association of America at www.mypnaa.org/index.php/component/content/article/110-maryland-chapter.html

My best wishes,


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  1. Avatar
    amanda January 29, 2019 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Dear Donna,

    Hi good day.I am a licensed nurse in the Philippines.I got my license last 2012 and never worked as a nurse there.I am now married with an American citizen in Arizona and I am planning to work as a nurse here in Arizona.What do I need to do?And what exams do I need to take?Thank you so much and more blessings.

    • Avatar
      mats March 4, 2019 at 4:19 am - Reply

      Hi Donna my name is mats.

      My first question is did u work in the Philippines as Registered Nurse or Licensed Nurse? Here in US we have LVN/LPN and RN. You said Licensed Nurse thats equivalent to Licensed vocational nurse here in US.

  2. Avatar
    Rose February 27, 2019 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    I am a graduate of Practical Nursing in the Philippines and would like to pursue this career here in Pennsylvania, USA. I do not know what I should do first in order to make this plan happen. I tried contacting the Board of Nursing in Pennsylvania but I wasn’t lucky to get response nor talk to anyone over the phone. I would appreciate it if someone can really provide me direction about this. Thanks in advance.

    • Avatar
      mats March 4, 2019 at 4:36 am - Reply

      Hello rose

      my name is mats and I’m from California. Different state and country they have diff. qualifications, I will share the qualifications here in Cali and it might help you a little.
      So first make sure you have all your credentials
      -TOR, diploma, RLE summary/booklet, Your school year program, cases, copy of your passport during your school years, Philippine licensed

      Most of the time foreign graduate specially Philippines we don’t meet other countries qualifications and you need to go back to school to get some subjects they need.

      If you are graduate as a RN in Phil. they might accept you as Licensed Practical Nurse in Pennsylvania.

      Go to Pennsylvania LVN/LPN website and compare all your credentials to their requirements. If you meet all the reqs. Download the application provided in the website and follow the instructions how to apply for exam. Most of the time you need to mail it. The mailing address provided in the website.

      after 3-4 weeks if you didn’t received a email or mail. Call them to follow up. Always call maybe every other day.

      • Avatar
        Lisa November 4, 2020 at 7:15 am - Reply

        Hi, I am a student nurse from the Philippines. I want to ask how l can get my license after completing my BSN without me going back to my country. can I get my license here and how can I do that? thanks

  3. Avatar
    Biji Cheriyan July 2, 2019 at 6:27 am - Reply

    I would like to know my priority date is active or not.I would like to work in US.

  4. Avatar
    Lourdes July 8, 2019 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Hi there Donna, my name is Lourdes, BSN graduate ( not board passer )in Philippines, 2009. Just got here in Michigan last January’2018, married to us citizen. Just wanted to know what would be the step by step to become an RN in Michigan. Your advice is much appreciated .
    Thank you.

    • Avatar
      Missy August 18, 2021 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      Dear Donna,

      I am a licensed nurse in the Philippines and US RN in Vermont – Inactive because I need SSN to be able to renew it, but I am still in the Philippines. I have hospital experience here in the Philippines. What should I do to be able to activate my Vermont license again? If through endorsement, what state needs few requirements and the easiest? Thank u, in advance.

  5. Avatar
    heidi July 9, 2019 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Hi, I came across this thread and would like to share my experience. I have a BSN in the Philippines and graduated in 2009. In 2013 I moved to Louisiana on a working visa(not as RN) for a healthcare company. In 2015 I got married and now I have my greencard. You have to pass the Philippine Board exam for nurses, you need to have this license since you have to go through CGFNS to evaluate your paperwork if your credentials are acceptable in the US. I took my NCLEX in the philippines and passed in 2012. Luckily, all my credentials are acceptable and I did not have to take any remedial class or more courses. Applying for the NCLEX in the Phil was a little different since we do not have a social security number. I am not sure how to apply if you already have a SSN. My initial license was in Vermont (only for NCLEX exam application and did not require a SSN to take test) and when i moved to the US I had to do an endorsement for me to practice in Louisiana. Every state has a different rule for internationally educated nurses so the best thing to do is reach out to the nursing board of your state. I have been practicing as an RN since 2015 here in the US. In conclusion, a Philippine license as an RN is needed so CGFNS can evaluate your paperwork. If not, you will have to enroll to an LPN or RN program in the US and hopefully your philippine credentials will count.

    • Avatar
      bibish October 15, 2019 at 2:39 am - Reply

      Hello Heidi, I wanted to find out , did your board of nursing accept ur BSN? Or did you evaluate the BSN?

      • Avatar
        Mae Charisse Valmores September 28, 2020 at 5:15 pm - Reply

        Hi Mae here! I’m a BSN graduate in the Philippines year 2009. I tried taking NLE but unfortunately I din not pass. So, I am not a licensed holder in the Philippines. CA BON is asking me for another requirement explaining why I’m not a license.. Please do help me! I migrated here in US CA 2017.

        • Avatar
          Sheryl Mercado March 25, 2021 at 8:11 pm - Reply

          Hi Ms. Mae, we were in the same situation. I just want to ask any update in your application?

          • Avatar
            dexter v March 28, 2022 at 1:34 am

            hi ms.mae and ms.Sheryl i have the same situation right now. any updates on your applications?

            thanks much

  6. Avatar
    Dyanne November 9, 2019 at 2:54 am - Reply

    Shortly after I passed my RN license exam in the Philippines in 1997 I immigrated to the U.S. I have been working in the healthcare setting for almost 20 years, but not as an RN. How do I become a licensed nurse in Texas. Will I have to go back to school all over again?

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez November 14, 2019 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Dyanne,

      If your current employer does not have resources that can help you figure out what steps you need to take, you may be able to get the answers you are looking for from CGFNS International – cgfns.org. Although their concentration is on foreign nurses looking to work in other countries, the website does have information on how nurses who received training in other countries must undergo credentials checks and pass licensure exams, in order to work in the country as an RN. The organization is a good place to start. Good luck and best wishes.

  7. Avatar
    Benny April 12, 2020 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Hi I’m a nursing graduate year 2012 but not take the licensure exams. I’m planning to take the board now and i have sponsor in Uk. I just want to ask if i still need the RLE for a requirements because i think i lost all my copies. please help. thank u

  8. Avatar
    Nancy April 13, 2020 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    Hi i am a nurse graduate in philippines wayback 2010 and i have no licensed as a nurse there…i have immigrant visa and living now here in alabama…my question is what will i do to become a nurse here in alabama and what are the requirements that i need to prepare, i need someone who can able to guide me and advice me what certain things to do step by step… thanks in advance

  9. Avatar
    Joseph April 24, 2020 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Hi I am an RN in the philippines and have workd for a government hospital in th philippines for more than 10yrs my wife haas been hired here in the US as and we came here late January of 2019 and now i have decided to practice nursing in the US but i dont know where to start or what exams should I take aside from taking the NCLEX

  10. Avatar
    MAJONES April 30, 2020 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Hi I am a BSN graduate in Philippines. I married a US Citizen a year ago and I am planning to take NCLEX. Hence while in the process of reviewing, can I work as a CNA in the mean time? The reason for this is I want to be exposed in a clinical setting while reviewing my books and have money to pay for my exam.
    I hope you could help me. I will surely appreciate it,

  11. Avatar
    SUSANA May 3, 2020 at 3:55 am - Reply

    Hi, glad that I came across this thread. I’m a graduate of BSN in the Philippines; passed the board exam but expired 2015, passed the illinois nursing exam (nclex) also expired 2014, I focused on being a hands-on mom and didn’t think I have any use of my profession until NOW, What steps should I take ? I want to go back to my nursing profession.

    • Avatar
      Bored July 15, 2021 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      The only way to find out is by sending an application to CGNFS. They will most likely accept applicants with a BSN degree to take the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN.

      Immigrants who aren’t US Citizens and whose primary language is not “English”, will be required to take an English test or IELTS (no worries, this can be retaken over and over until you’re satified with your score though, there is a fee) then, send em’ the result, wait for their response and once you have recieved a “GO” sign then, you may now be eligible to schedule for an appointment to take your NCLEX via online.

  12. Avatar
    Mai May 29, 2020 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Hi.. i am a RN in the Philippines and already a resident here in the US. I need help….does anybody know how can i apply for LETTER OF GOOD STANDING for my nursing license in the Philippines?
    Any help/info would be very much appreciated. THANK YOU..

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez June 8, 2020 at 9:58 am - Reply

      Hello Mai,
      If you have not already, try CGFNS.org. They may have some helpful suggestions for you.

      Best wishes,

  13. Avatar
    Jon July 6, 2020 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    Now is a good time to get to the USA as a nurse, because they’re in high demand with covid-19

  14. Avatar
    Reyma Eve July 10, 2020 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    I graduated BSN in Philippines last 2015 and didn’t take the board exam. I am currently residing in Canada as permanent resident. They won’t credit my credentials here so I am planning to move in US. What requirements should I prepare? or Do I need to be an RN in Philippines first? Which website should I look for the requirements I need to comply in order to be a nurse in US? thankyou

  15. Avatar
    Brill July 11, 2020 at 6:00 am - Reply

    I’m a foreigner in the Philippines, I have a degree in BSN and am not an RN yet, I plan to write the NCLEX exams by next year and migrate to US. Can I migrate there as a foreigner with a degree from Philippines with no experience and no Registered nurse certificate from my country?
    Can I take the licence from US and can I work with my NCLEX?

    • Avatar
      Leng September 3, 2020 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      Hi just want to share. Im a BSN graduate in the Philipines, did not take my NLE. I passed my nclex ( Northern Mariana Island) last yr, i endorsed my license to Indiana and now practising as RN. Some state does not need Philipines lincese. Check with the BON in the state where you want to practice. Some state just need CGFNS CES to evaluate our education, they dont need IELTS. It’s easy now compared before.
      Best answer is contact the Board of Nursing of the state that you want to practice. They will help you.
      They dont require experience as a nurse. All they need is to pass the NCLEX-RN and you can start as new license nurse.

      • Avatar
        Destined to succeed March 4, 2021 at 7:46 pm - Reply

        Hi Leng! Your comment shined a light to my path and i finally believe i did not make a mistake coming to study BSNursing in the Philippines since foreigners are not allowed to take the board. However, if i can contact you anyhow you wish just to ask a few more question pls do well to drop your contact even if its an email. Thanks for sharing, God bless you!

      • Avatar
        christine June 5, 2021 at 8:52 pm - Reply

        Hi leng, can i have any corespondence even via messnger or email? wanna ask you about NCLEX more since I graduated in the Philippines and want to take NCLEX without board exam in the philippines..thanks..here’s my email – [email protected]

      • Avatar
        Chris Ronaldo October 10, 2021 at 9:51 pm - Reply

        Hi leng, I’m here in Canada now and same situation with you without license in the Philippines. I want to take the exam in the USA because here in Canada they won’t recognize foreign graduate. Will you please help me on how to process and whom I can contact with? Even same State as you took the exam. Please and thank you.

  16. Avatar
    ANNY August 18, 2020 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    Hi. I am a permanent resident in California but is currently studying BS Nursing in the Philippines. Do I still need to take the philippine licensure exam or can I take NCLEX right away? Based on my understanding on the requirements of CA, a diploma will suffice and license is not necessary. Am I correct? Thank you

    • Avatar
      Darna September 2, 2020 at 7:37 am - Reply

      Hi, I’m an RN in the Philippines, just want to ask when you had your credentials evaluated by the CGFNS did you also take the English exam?? Thank you

  17. Avatar
    Mel March 16, 2021 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    I am a graduate of BS nursing here in the Philippines, not RN, what are the requirements for me to take NCLEX exam.
    I am planning to work in Washington state due to my sister works there.

  18. Avatar
    rene March 30, 2021 at 12:48 am - Reply

    Hi I am a foreigner studying bsn in the philippines and i just figured out that i can’t take the board exam in the ph to become a RN. Can i work abroad with just my credentials which proves that i am a BSN graduate? And take the NCLEX there to bexome an RN? Or i could just go back to my country and take the board exam there?

  19. Avatar
    Flower April 7, 2021 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Hello! Im graduated BSN in the philippines and I have licence. I worked for 16 years in Kuwait as Dental nurse and i have also licence in kuwait as a nurse. Im immigrant here in CA. I want to know how can i start to work here

  20. Avatar
    Laid April 22, 2021 at 12:13 am - Reply

    Hi, I am an RN here in Ph since 2007, however, I do not have work experience as a nurse. Whick state in the US can I apply for nclex that does not require a work experience? Thank you.

  21. Avatar
    Chrystal May 22, 2021 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    HI! I’m currently a senior high school whos graduating in a few weeks. I live in California and have already applied and accepted to a university. However lately, I’ve started to consider going back to the Philippines to get my BSN degree. I’m not quite sure how my roadmap is going to look like and if there’s anyone who’s been through this path, what am I supposed to do? I heard it’s harder to come back to America and get a job, but I also heard that I only need to pass the nclex and I wouldn’t have to worry much, I just have to work in a different state other than California. Can you guys recommend to me some universities in manila that I can apply to? I really don’t know where to start, please help me. I don’t think I have enough time left.

  22. Avatar
    Leah Magsino July 22, 2021 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    H, I’m Lia, a BSN graduate from Philippines. I would like to apply even nurse assistant. Since I haven’t taken the U.S. licensure yet. I have a dream to work in the US. I have experience since 2009 in the hospital setting. Please, I need advice how to apply for a job. Thank you .. God bless us all

  23. Avatar
    Maila Santos October 5, 2021 at 4:42 am - Reply

    Hi, I’m Maila, RN here in the Philippines. I’m planning to take the NCLEX, but first I need to prepare my school credentials, especially the RLE. But unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of my RLE. I tried to contact my school but I can’t reach them. What will happen if I don’t have my RLE record? Does that mean that I can’t take the NCLEX and I can’t also work as RN in US? Thank you for the response.

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez October 11, 2021 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      Hello Maila,

      If you continue to have no luck contacting your school, the next step may be to contact the CGFNS – https://www.cgfns.org/. This organization may be able to answer your question and/or provide you with contacts to assist you.

      Thank you for your question and best wishes.

  24. Avatar
    Noel October 11, 2021 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    Hi. I am an RN in the Philippines and now an immigrant in Ca. US. Can i ask what are the requirements and documents needed to take the NCLEX Ca? Thank you very much.

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez October 13, 2021 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Hello Noel,

      For information on requirements for taking the NCLEX in California, contact the California Board of Registered Nursing. Visit their website for contact information: https://www.ncsbn.org/California.htm

  25. Avatar
    grace October 26, 2021 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Donna,

    I am a registered nurse here in the UK and in the philippines. I am working as a nurse here in the UK and I want to become a nurse in arizona. What is the first thing i should do to apply for licensure in arizona?

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez November 19, 2021 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Hello Grace,

      Your first could be to contact the CGFNS – https://www.cgfns.org/ – for guidelines on how to work as an RN in the U.S. Good luck!

  26. Avatar
    Ma. Lexieni P Hursh November 19, 2021 at 12:21 am - Reply

    Hi I am Lexie I had my BSN degree from the Philippines but I am not a registered nurse. Now I am in the US in Wisconsin state I want to work as a nurse. My question what is the first step that I need to do? Am I eligible NCLEX? Please can you give me some advice? Thank you

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez December 28, 2021 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      Hello Lexie,

      A first step can be to contact the CGFNS – https://www.cgfns.org/ – to see if they can guide you, since you are now a resident of Wisconsin. Another option would be to contact the Wisconsin State Board of Nursing – https://dsps.wi.gov/pages/BoardsCouncils/Nursing/Default.aspx – to gather information on qualifications needed in order to take the NCLEX.

      We hope you are able to join the ranks of U.S. nurses soon.

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