Top 7 Countries From Which The US Imports Nurses

Top 7 Countries From Which The US Imports NursesIf you’re qualifying to be a nurse, you have several options open to you. You can choose to certify and work in your own country, or, if you’re ambitious, you can try for a nursing position in other countries. The United States is a great place at which to work. Given the present nursing shortage, the US is importing more foreign nurses than usual.

This presents a great opportunity for an ambitious nurse to apply for a nursing position in the US. However, the US has very strict requirements with regard to nursing education, qualifications, certifications and experience. Owing to these, the US prefers to import more nurses from countries whose educational norms are suited to the US market. In this article, we’ll take a look at which are the top 10 countries from which the US prefers to import nurses.


In a survey of the migration of nurses to the US conducted in 2004, it was found that 50.2% of imported nurses came from the Philippines. This makes the Philippines the top contender for the countries from which the US prefers to import nurses. Nurses in the Philippines are educated at the baccalaureate level. The education norms are not suitable for employment in the US. However, the US has imported the largest number of nurses from this country.

Largely, this is owed to the large number of recruiting agencies for Philippines who actively help nurses obtain their visas. In addition, the fact that the Philippines has the most number of first time NCLEX certification exam passers (23,204 between 2001 and 2005) ensures that Philippines retains its top position as America’s most preferred import source for nurses.


1.3% of the nurses that currently work in the US are from India. The quality of nursing is considered good in India, though the educational systems vary. However, the US now ensures that all nurses who want to qualify for their immigration visas must clear the NCLEX exam.

Only after clearing the U.S. NCLEX exam can a nurse receive a license to practice as a Registered Nurse in the United States. Of the more than 10,000 foreign nurses who clear their NCLEX exams every year, a varying but large percentage belong to India, making India the second most top import source country for nurses.


Nearly 20.2% of United States nurses were born and educated in Canada. Canada holds place of pride as the third largest import source for nurses to the United States. With Canadian nurses, language issues don’t pose a problem, not do the educational standards, which are very close to those of their neighbor, the United States. Canadian nurses immigrate to the US for better employment opportunities and the chance to earn more money.

The US represents a large job market to nurses at the moment, considering that it is short of more than 30,000 nurses. This enormous shortage and the welcome that’s given to foreign nurses make it tempting for nurses even from developed countries such as Canada to work in the US.

South Korea

The huge shortage of nurses in the United States has caused this country to spread its net wide for qualified nurses worldwide. South Korea is a preferred import source country. Korean nurses are put through a 10-day on the job training after they arrive in the U.S. This is after clearing all immigration norms and passing the NCLEX exam.

The city of New York faces a huge nursing shortage and in 2004, several hundred nurses from South Korea were appointed in 36 New York hospitals as intern nurses. They were initially paid US$25 per hour; wages have been revised since.


Ireland is another top import source country for the US, as far as nurses and other workforce is concerned. Again, language issues are easily overcome as English is spoken in both countries. However, compared to the large numbers of nurses that are imported from the Philippines, India and other developing countries, the Irish import is less.

This might be because the number of agencies recruiting nurses from Ireland for the US is fewer than those representing other nations. Still, Ireland is a top preferred country as far as the US is concerned, for importing qualified nurses.


Australian nurses are exempted from demonstrating their proficiency in written and spoken English, owing to the fact that they are native English speakers. This is the case with nurses from New Zealand, Ireland, United Kingdom and Australia.

Exemption from the Test for English for International Communication (TOEIC), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or even the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) means that the immigration process takes much lesser time. This makes Australia, along with Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Ireland preferred import source countries.

United Kingdom

Nurses from the UK are exempted from English tests. They are screened and interviewed for suitability by the US consulate or US embassy, either at an immigration center in the U.S or in their home country. The interviews are used to assure that all visa requirements are met. Nurses from the United Kingdom are also required to take and pass the NCLEX exam in order to qualify.

Nurses also have to qualify for state-specific nursing licensure, depending on the recruiting state. It is difficult to get a complete account of the number of nurses from the UK that work in the US presently, because registering and licensing imported nurses is a state-level responsibility.

In addition, over 15% of nurses imported from foreign countries are registered across different states, which complicate the totaling aspect. However, it is safe to assume that close to 10% of all foreign imported nurses who work in the US are of UK origin.

How Many Foreign Educated Nurses Work In The US Presently?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducted a sample survey of imported nurses in 2004. It is estimated that close to 5% of all practicing RNs in the U.S are imported. California enjoys the largest percentage of imported nurses, with over 25%, followed by Florida at close to 15%, New York at 10%, and Texas at 7%, and New Jersey at 6.5%.

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