Recruiting Foreign Workers


As health care facilities continue to see increases in open positions while often facing a lack of qualified candidates and hesitancy from candidates to relocate for a position, many organizations are considering hiring international workers to emigrate to the United States to fill open positions.

Some health care facilities use a recruitment agency to recruit international health care employees, while other organizations take on part or all of the processes. The majority of internationally recruited health care professionals are physicians and nurses.

South Dakota has established a J-1 Visa Waiver Program to help communities recruit foreign or international medical graduate physicians. The Office of Rural Health facilitates the waiver requests.

Pros and Cons

The following are common pros and cons for hiring international health care employees:


  • International employees are often excited to discover what the United States has to offer, and discover new experiences
  • Adequate staffing coverage at an affordable cost
  • Unique experiences for coworkers to work with diverse employees


  • Language barriers and accents in some cases could cause issues with care and data entry
  • A newly emigrated health care employee may have a hard time getting used to a different culture and way of life
  • Homesickness can be a problem for international employees, who may feel disconnected from family and friends
  • The timeline to hire an internationally recruited health care worker is much longer than hiring a U.S. citizen
  • Internationally recruited health care worker could face barriers with educational training and credentials

Did you know?

Immigrant professionals have long played an important role in the U.S. health-care workforce and make up disproportionate shares of both certain high- and low-skilled health-care workers.

Nationally, 26% of Physicians and surgeons and 16% of nurses are foreign born. With 18% of the immigrant workforce working in healthcare.

Helpful Links

Nurse Together provides a comprehensive list of recruitment agencies specializing in recruiting foreign trained nurses for jobs in the U.S.

Closer to home, Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) in Minnesota founded International Nurse Recruitment (INR) to assist nurses from the Philippines to come to the United States for employment. 

U.S. Immigration site for information:

For employers in communities where there are refugees seeking assistance with resettlement, Lutheran Social Services’ Center for New Americans helps refugees become self-sufficient through a variety of services.