The NCLEX application process can be hard for foreign and international nurses. Here’s a guide to help get you started! We’ve included links that help you go right to the instructions for those who went to nursing school outside of the United States.
Another part of this guide will teach you how to become an actual nurse in America – how to start the immigration, getting a work visa, permanent residency, and more.
Keep in mind this is made as a reference guide, not as a primary source! For the most specific information to your case, please use the contact information to ask each Board of Nursing yourself. Either call or email to ask your questions!
Overall, becoming a nurse in America is made up of three steps:
Step 1: Applying with the State Board of Nursing where you will be practicing.
Step 2: Registering with Pearson Vue to schedule your NCLEX location and date.
Registration costs $200, plus additional fees if you are taking the NCLEX outside of the U.S.
Step 3: Getting into the Country. This involves immigration, visas, and getting approval to stay and work in the country.
STEP 1: CHOOSE YOUR STATE, MEET REQUIREMENTS, AND APPLY TO THE STATE BOARD OF NURSING
What is the State Board of Nursing?
Each state has a committee called a Board of Nursing (for example, there are 50 Boards of Nursing in the U.S, one for each of 50 states). These are the people who decide if you are able to take the NCLEX and get licensed in their state.
Before you can even consider scheduling or planning where you want to take the NCLEX, you have to make your application to a State Board of Nursing.
The NCLEX exam requirements and application process:
How do I Know What NCLEX Requirements I Need to Meet?
Each state has different requirements. They will charge a fee ranging from $200-400 depending on each state. If you don’t know what state you want to be a nurse in, now is the time to choose!
In the United States, nurses don’t get licensed for the whole country. The United States has 50 states, and each nurse is usually licensed in one state at a time. That’s why the first step is to choose what state you want to apply for!
However, no matter what state you apply for, everyone takes the same NCLEX to be a nurse in the United States.
Each state’s Board of Nursing has a website where you can find out the requirements. Check out our NCLEX Requirements by State
You can get a full list of Boards (including those outside of the U.S.) on the NCSBN Board Contact page.
Where can I take my NCLEX?
All international students should also read this FAQ page on the NCSBN website to learn more about applying for the NCLEX for foreign applicants!
According to the FAQ page, “The countries and non-member board territories that currently administer the NCLEX examinations are Australia, Canada, England, Germany (not available), Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico and Taiwan.”
You can also search available test centers from this Pearson Vue Test Center Search.
When can I take my NCLEX?
There are no set test dates for the NCLEX that you have to plan while doing the application. You can apply and register anytime. Once you do, you can then schedule your NCLEX for a date that is comfortable for you! The only NCLEX exam requirement for foreign nurses is that there might be a 90-day time limit (you have to schedule your NCLEX within 90 days of your application’s approval).