12- Steps to achieve your American Dream as a Kenyan Nurse

12- Steps to achieve your American Dream as a Kenyan Nurse

Make this year the Year of Your American Dream, Nurses in the USA enjoy great pay, and a high degree of responsibility and are protected at work from mistreatment from co-workers, doctors, and patients. They are given a fair caseload of patients and are paid a higher wage if they work extra hours. If this sounds like a career path that suits you, then America awaits you, and here are the steps for getting started.

  1. Make a decision
  2. Meet the educational requirements
  3. Take and pass an English language proficiency test (IELTS)
  4. Find an International US –Based Nursing Recruiting Agency or employer
  5. Contact the specific State Board of Nursing for Licensure Information
  6. Obtain credential evaluation with the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS)
  7. Authorization to Test ATT from the State Board of Nursing
  8. Pass your National Council Licensing Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX – RN)
  9. Receive State Registered Nursing License
  10. Apply and obtain an RN immigrant visa/green card
  11. Apply for the job
  12. Relocate to The State

Make a Decision

First and foremost, you have to decide whether you are already in your greener pasture in Kenya or you need to check for one in the US. Flying to the States for work, is not an easy decision as most people might think, it is a life decision. It involves a lot of restructuring your life in totality especially those Kenya Nurses with families as they will need to include those family members in the process from the start.

The process itself is also expensive in terms of finances and time; however, there are some US-based Nursing Recruiting Agencies that can cater for those expenses but you will get bonded to them for a minimum of two years.

You have to consider all the cons and pros and these are to be based on your personal situation. The situations might be totally different, so you do not make a decision of moving due to peer influence. You also need to seek for more information from Kenyan Nurses who are already working in the States as they provide first-hand information on the status of nursing employment and life in general. In the long run, is it worth it?


Most Kenyan nursing programs (KRN, KRCHN, Higher Diplomas, BScN, and MScN) if not all are recognized worldwide. For one to qualify you must have graduated from a recognized institution offering an accredited Nursing program, get licensed by the Nursing Council of Kenya and finally gain an experience of 2 years before starting the process, unlike in The UK where you do not need years of post-licensure experience.

In addition to your professional education; you must be in possession of a Kenyan Passport which you are encouraged to process at the earliest, you also need to be in possession of a Kenyan Driving License. One can organize to do the driving lessons at any time during the process.

English Language Proficiency Tests

After meeting the basic education requirements, all Kenyan Nurses must take and pass the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), unless you are trained in English-speaking countries like the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand Australia, etc.

In Kenya, IELTS exams are organized and offered at the British Council Nairobi, Upper Hill Road. They now have two exam centres, Nairobi and Eldoret.

The required IELTS score will vary depending on the State Board of Nursing that you will be applying to register but on average most of them require a total score of 6.5 with a score of 6.0 in the following areas; listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Please ensure you confirm with the specific state you are registering to ascertain its required IELTS score. Most recruitment agencies prefer applicants who have already passed IELTS before engaging with them.

Get an International US –Based nursing recruiting agency or employer

If you want to live and work in America as a licensed Registered Nurse, you’ll likely need to find an International US –Based nursing recruiting agency or employer to assist you. It is easier for Kenyan nurses to work with an independent staffing recruiter or agency then directly with a hospital.

Agencies are well versed in helping nurses work in the U.S. and have systems in place in order to ensure all information and paperwork is completed accurately.

There are several reputable agencies out there that might have your best interests in mind as a Kenyan Nurse. Unfortunately, there are also individuals out there who prey on stranded nurses who are eager to improve their lives and careers in the USA. The rule of thumb is; choose an agency that does not charge. If you’re asked for upfront money, you need to look elsewhere. That’s just the tip of an enormous iceberg.

Currently, the recommended are Avant Healthcare Professional, O’ Grady Peyton International , Westways International, and Adevia. You can get more information about their processes from their websites.

Contact the State Board of Nursing for Licensure Information

Your agency will help you in contacting the specific State Board of Nursing for more information and submitting your application for registration.

Nursing in the US is regulated at a state level, meaning that Kenyan nurses will need to be licensed by the relevant State's Board of Nursing, which may be more limiting than other countries where you are able to seek national registration. However, the Nurse Licensure Compact means that there are now a number of states that offer and recognize a 'multi-state license' if you are looking for a more flexible option.

Each State Board has specific instructions on how foreign graduates must complete the licensure process. For example, State Boards may provide a list of their preferred credential evaluation services provider and the type of evaluation they require.

Additionally, the State Board may require a set passing score on a specific English proficiency exam. Before applying for licensure, Kenyan nurses are encouraged to contact the specific State Board of Nursing for information and guidance.

Credentials Evaluation And Reports

Equipped with information on the requirements from the State Board of Nursing, you then send all your academic and professional documents to be verified and evaluated by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). A report has to be generated. This report provides the basic information about you for the specific State Board of Nursing on the following:

English Requirement

Secondary School Documents

Nursing Education Documents from your training institution

Licensure Documents from the Nursing Council of Kenya

Clinical experience information from your employer/s

Authorization to Test ATT from State Board of Nursing

Submit an application for registration to the State Board of Nursing where you wish to be registered. With the CGFNS reports, the State Board of Nursing will then confirm your eligibility for registration and issue you with Authority to Take a Test through Pearson VUE where you will register with a Kenyan Code, and wait to until you receive Acknowledgement of Receipt of Registration and Authorization to Test (ATT) from Pearson VUE. At this point, you are now ready to apply for the NCLEX-RN exam. Each ATT is valid for a period of time specified by the State Board of Nursing (the average length of an ATT is 90 days)

The NCLEX-RN Examination

All Kenyan Nurses registering to work in the states must pass National Council Licensure Examinations for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

The agency will obviously guide you with registration and exam preparation. One needs enough time for preparations. It is a challenging test that requires you to apply Nursing knowledge to practice and critical thinking skills. It is recommended to take at least 1-2 months to review for the test.

Being a computerized adaptive test (CAT) exam, the computer selects questions based on your ability and competence as demonstrated on your answer to the previous question. Most of the questions on the NCLEX-RN are written at the application and analysis level. Test questions integrate the nursing process and the four client needs. Questions will be presented in a variety of formats such as multiple choice, multiple response or Select All That Apply (SATA), fill-in-the-blank, calculation, drag and drop, and/or hot spot. Questions may include multimedia such as charts, tables, graphics, sound and video.

It is important that you follow a realistic study plan that takes into account personal learning needs, style and personal life. It can be overwhelming to prepare for the NCLEX-RN alone; thus, it is suggested that you sign up with an agency, as some of them have already developed for a comprehensive NCLEX-RN review program to help you with your preparation.

NCLEX-RN is presently administered by Pearson VUE in their network of Pearson Professional Centers (PPC). Most Kenyan Nurses are taking their NCLEX-RN in India under the support of the recruiting agencies like Avant Healthcare Kenya, O’ Grady Peyton International and Adevia Health Kenya.

Receive State Registered Nursing License

Just like Nursing Council Exams, NCLEX system is synchronized with that of the State Board of Nursing and work hand in hand enabling the State Board of Nursing to automatically issue you with the License to practice in that State as a Registered Nurse. But this do not warrant you to work there, you need to now meet the immigration requirements for Visa purpose, however, congratulations.

Obtain Employment Visa “Work Visa”

The next step is to obtain an employment visa. There are several options for these nurses but nurses must have sponsorship from a staffing agency. As a Kenyan nurse you will need to obtain a permanent work visa, otherwise known as a green card. You need to make an application to the US embassy, in Kenya, and be aware of the Visa Interview. This application needs to be completed prior to travel to the United States and the visa must be obtained before immigrating legally

Apply for the Job

The agency will also come handy at this stage, as most of them have already established connections with various employers in that State. In most cases the agency would have already secured various potential employers for you. You will be set for a series of Skype interviews and finally you will have your job with one. The employer might give you enough time to relocate and there are some who might even support in relocation, nevertheless, most agencies have their own relocation programs.

Relocate to The State

Some of the agency will fly their representative down to the the airport to meet you at the International arrivals terminal. Some have gone ahead to establish International Community Programs for their applicants. Furthermore, they help arrivals with numerous tasks, like:


Setting up a bank account

Getting a social security card

Taking candidates to the grocery store

Getting candidates a car

Providing cash to buy items needed for initial housing purchases like bedding, linens, and kitchen items, and more

Meet and greet with your co-workers prior to your first day on the job

Best of luck as you start your dream journey!!!!

Nursing is caring and sharing is caring.......


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