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Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration

California BRN now requires SSN

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by Chris Musillo

On April 26, 2010, the California Board of Registered Nursing announced that it would no longer accept applications that do not have a Social Security Number. The California BRN reasons that since the Nursing Practice Act provides for automatic issuance of the license upon approval, the Social Security Number is a prerequisite to the filing of the application. This is problematic for overseas nurses who are ineligible for Social Security Numbers by virtue of not having US visas and work authorization.

If a nurse has passed the NCLEX and the only issue holding up the issuance of the license is the lack of a Social Security Number, the USCIS should still approve the visa petition. This process would be consistent with the USCIS' long-standing procedure on petitions solely lacking Social Security Numbers.

For instance, a
November 20, 2001 INS (predecessor to the USCIS) Memo directs USCIS officers to approve petitions when the sole missing item is the social security number. Similarly a May 20, 2009 USCIS Memo reiterates this position.

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  1. Bob's Avatar

    This new development is also problematic for those who already passed the NCLEX. Normally, CA BRN would also extend the original 3 yr deadline to give a US SSN on a yearly basis for those who have passed the NCLEX. Word is those asking for the annual extensions are also now being required to give a US SSN. Not able to give one would mean abandonment and destruction of files.

    My questions are:

    1)Isn't this a bit unfair and a bit discriminatory for internationally-educated nurses?

    2) Does this mandatory requirement now gives internationally-educated nurses still on their home countries entitlement to get a US SSN?

    *What if I need a number for other reasons*

    If you are not authorized by DHS to work in the United States, you can get a Social Security number only if you can prove you need it for a valid non-work reason. That might happen, for example, if a state or federal law requires you to have a Social Security number to obtain benefits to which you have already established entitlement.

    3) There is also a new process about being able to get a US SSN while still on their home countries as part of the immigration process:

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a new process for noncitizens to apply for Social Security number (SSN) cards as part of the immigration process. Now, people age 18 and older applying for immigrant visas with the U.S. Department of State can also apply for SSN cards at the same time.

    Since majority of nurses already have pending immigrant visa applications and majority of w/c are also completed files and just waiting for visa numbers to be available as the National Visa Center is concerned wouldn't these nurses now able to apply for SSN as part of the immigration process specially since the above statement also said "applying for immigrant visas" and not necessarily have an actual immigrant visa on hand.

    Thanks in advance Chris.
  2. Chris Musillo's Avatar
    @Bob- Great questions.

    1. I agree. Unfortunately the State of California would probably argue that the intent is not to discriminate, but to provide information for a background check.

    2. This could conceivably work and is a great idea.

    3. This doesn't help because you are only elgible for the SSN at the time of the issuance of the GC.
  3. L. A. Nurse's Avatar
    Hey Bob,
    You think it's unfair and discriminatory to foreign nurses to require SSN to be issued a license and extend it? First of all, you are a foreign nurse and not a legal resident or citizen of USA to be issued a SSN . In fact, to have a SSN is not a very easy thing to acquire here in USA and I know what I'm saying because I know a lot of people here (I'm in Los Angeles) who, despite of having resided here in US for a long period of time hasn't had that very precious number. I am not in favor of issuing licenses to foreign nurses like what other states are doing (Vermont etc). Even dependents of those who are here legally like (H1b Visa dependents ) can't be issued a SSN.
    This is I think a step to indirectly stop the employment of foreign nurses to CA because there are now oversupply of nurses here. Have you not read of those blogs about a lot of nurses here that are unemployed?
  4. Replica Christian Louboutin Heels's Avatar
    *People are always telling you what to do, but what's right for them may not be right for you.
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