U.S. immigration law now requires that healthcare professionals, other than physicians, complete a screening program in order to qualify for certain occupational visas. VisaScreen: Visa Credentials Assessment, a program offered by CGFNS's International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), enables healthcare professionals to meet this requirement by verifying and evaluating their credentials to ensure compliance with the U.S. government's minimum eligibility standards. Applicants who successfully complete the VisaScreen receive a VisaScreen Certificate, which can be presented to a consular office, or in the case of adjustment of status, the attorney general, as part of a visa application.
Meeting Federal Requirements
Section 343 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 requires that certain non-U.S. healthcare professionals successfully complete a screening program prior to receiving an occupational visa. Screening includes an assessment of an applicant's education to ensure that it is comparable to that of a U.S. graduate in that same profession, verification that licenses are valid and unencumbered, English language proficiency, and, in the case of nurses, verification that the nurse has either earned a CGFNS Certificate or passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN® examination).
The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) was named in the IIRIRIA as an organization qualified to offer this federal screening program. In response to this legislation, CGFNS created a new division, the International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), which administers VisaScreen.
TheVisaScreen program is comprised of an educational analysis, licensure validation, English language proficiency assessment, and, in the case of nurses, an examination of nursing knowledge. Once the applicant has successfully completed all elements of the VisaScreen program, the applicant is awarded a VisaScreen Certificate, which can be presented to a consular office, or in the case of adjustment of status, the attorney general as part of a visa application.
The educational review ensures that the applicant's education meets all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements for the profession the applicant intends to practice, and verifies that the alien nurse’s education is comparable to that of a U.S. graduate seeking licensure.
In order to meet the educational requirements for the VisaScreen program, applicants must have:
1) Successfully completed a senior secondary school education that is separate from their professional education;
2) Graduated from a government-approved, professional healthcare program of at least two years in length; and
3) Successfully completed a minimum number of clock and/or credit hours in specific theoretical and clinical areas during their professional program*.
* Physical therapists must include a self-reported, typed summary of their supervised clinical experience.
The licensure review evaluates initial, current, and past licenses. Validations provided directly to ICHP by the issuing/validating institution, affirm that the applicant has completed all practice requirements and that the registration/licensure has no encumbrances.
Predictive Examination for Nurses
Applicants who wish to obtain an occupational visa to practice as nurses in the United States must present a CGFNS Certificate or a passing score on the NCLEX-RN® Examination to provide proof of their nursing knowledge.
In order to obtain a CGFNS Certificate, applicants must successfully complete CGFNS's Certification Program, a three-part program, comprised of a credentials review, a one-day Qualifying Exam of nursing knowledge and an English language proficiency exam. Upon successful completion of all three elements of the program, applicants are awarded a CGFNS Certificate. Most states require the CGFNS Certificate from nurses educated abroad before they can take the NCLEX-RN® examination.
Applicants who successfully complete the VisaScreen program will receive a VisaScreen Certificate. The VisaScreen Certificate, which satisfies all federal screening requirements as set forth in section 343 of the IIRIRA, can then be presented to a consular office or, in the case of adjustment of status, the attorney general as part of a visa application. ICHP, through its parent company, CGFNS, was named in section 343 as a qualified provider of such a screening program. For more information about theVisaScreenCertificate, please check its website www.cgfns.org.
(Updated 10/8/2012 by AG)
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