Foreign Healthcare Workers
A U.S. nursing student from the Philippines who had a lucrative job offer, provided she took it immediately on graduation. We speeded up work authorization papers leading to a Green Card.
Goff and Wilson currently represents many hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities throughout the United States in processing immigration applications on behalf of the RN, OT, PT, as well as MDs and other medical specialists. We have processed hundreds of immigrant visas for healthcare professionals. We invite your inquiry.
- Registered Nurses
- Occupational Therapists
- Physical Therapists
USCIS Announces Extension of Certification Deadline for Certain Foreign Health Care Workers from Canada and Mexico
July, 20, 2004 - Washington, D.C.- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that certain foreign health care workers from Canada and Mexico will remain exempt, for a period of one year, from the foreign health care worker certification requirement. The announcement will publish later this week in the Federal Register. This exemption applies only to Canadian and Mexican TN (NAFTA professional) health care workers who were employed as TN nonimmigrant health care workers before September 23, 2003 and held a valid license from a U.S. jurisdiction before September 23, 2003.
On July 23, 2003, USCIS announced that, after July 26, 2004, foreign health care workers, other than physicians, who are subject to the foreign health care worker certification requirement, are inadmissible, and ineligible for an extension of status or change of status if already in the United States, unless they present a certificate granted by an approved credentialing organization.
That one-year transition period was sufficient for the vast majority of foreign health care workers. In the case of Canadian and Mexican TN health care workers, however, USCIS has determined that an extended transition period is needed. Many Canadian and Mexican citizens working in the border regions regularly travel across their respective borders. Because the process of obtaining certification is not an immediate one, USCIS has extended the transition period for Canadian and Mexican TN health care workers only for an additional year. This will ensure that there is no disruption to the regional health care systems along the Canadian and Mexican borders.
Congress mandated the certification requirement in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
Please contact our office for further information!
New Certification Requirements for Foreign Healthcare Workers
The immigration laws created certification requirements for foreign health care workers other than physicians. If the foreign health care worker did not possess a VisaScreen certificate then s/he was inadmissible as an intending immigrant. Now, the Department of Homeland Security has interpreted this law to apply to nonimmigrant health care workers as well. This includes RNs, LPNs, OTs, PTs, MTs, Speech and Language therapists and PAs.
This rule goes into effect on September 23, 2003. However, there is a grace period of one year until July 26, 2004. During this time, a foreign health care worker who does not yet have the proper certification can be admitted, extend their stay or change their status. However, these individuals will only be allowed a one year length of stay even if under other circumstances, they would be allowed a longer stay. In addition, the alien must obtain the certification from ICHP or another approved agency within one year of admission.
This delineation may pose a problem for those foreign health care workers here in H-1 status. If they have more than 1 year left on their stay and subsequently depart and try to re-enter during the grace period, they will only be granted a one year stay upon re-entry in which to become certified. We recommend that those workers remain in the US until the certification is completed before departing.
Foreign health care workers should keep in mind that the certification process can be slow due to the fact that all evidence of the candidate’s education and licensure must originate from the issuing authorities. Additionally, with the increase in the number of applicants seeking certification, there will be additional delays in processing.
Finally, it is important to note that physicians are exempt from this rule as well as those individuals in F-1 student status receiving optional practical training and those in a J-1 training program in the medical field.
New English Exams
The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) began accepting test scores from both the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) on March 3, 2003, for foreign Registered Nurses applying for the CGFNS Certificate and/or the VisaScreen Certificate.
Foreign Registered Nurses applying for the CGFNS Certificate must successfully complete the following within a two-year period in order for test scores to be considered valid:
- TOEFL and the CGFNS Qualifying Exam; or
- TOEIC and the CGFNS Qualifying Exam; or
- IELTS and the CGFNS Qualifying Exam.
Please note that the English exam (TOEFL or TOEIC or IELTS) may be taken prior to or following the CGFNS Qualifying Exam.
Foreign Registered Nurses applying for the VisaScreen Certificate program will have the option to take the following:
- TOEFL, TWE and TSE; or
- TOEIC, TWE and TSE; or
The following is a list of the Passing Scores for each exam:
- IELTS - Required passing score: 6.5 overall with a spoken band score of 7.0;
- TOEIC - Required passing score: 725;
- TOEFL - Required passing score: (Paper-based): 540 or (Computer-based): 207;
- TWE - Required passing score: 4.0;
- TSE - Required passing score: 50.
Please note that the two (2) year validity period will apply to these English proficiency exams.