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FEB 2007: Manila Should Not Have Gone Through All the Trouble to Get NCLEX Site
FEB 2007: File now Before Sharp Rise in USCIS Fees
FEB 2007: Consulates No Longer Authorized to Adjudicate I-130s
JAN 2007: Personal Interview Now Required For Visa Applicants
DEC 2006: Proposed Visa Screen Blanket Denial is Unfair
NOV 2006: Hardship waiver of the two year J-1 Residency
JUN 2006: Senate Passes Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill
APR 2006: Compromise Bill Emerges Despite Senate Bickering
MAR 2006: Immigration Reform: Looking beyond border patrols for answers
MAR 2006: Hope to Pinoy TNT's
MAR 2003: Immigrant Visa Processing of Foreign Nurses
JAN 2003: Asylum and the Child Status Protection Act
DEC 2002: Recalculating Age for purposes of relief
NOV 2002: New relief for "Age-Out" cases
FEB 2002: Update: Child Citizenship Act of 2001
JAN 2002: Tips: Preparing your "B" visitor extension requests
DEC 2001: The U.S. economic downturn: How the non-immigrant can weather the storm
NOV 2001: Possible immigration consequences of the events of Sep. 11, 2001
APR 2000: Business immigration
MAR 2000: Employment-based adjustment applicants
FEB 2000: INS clarifies status of H1B woker while on leave
JAN 2000: Immediate opening for nurses
DEC 1999: Practical tips in dealing with the US consulate in Manila
NOV 1999: INS Processing delays and how to live with them
OCT 1999: How to maximize your changes of obtaining a B2 tourist visa
SEP 1999: In the aftermath of  245(i) who benefits?


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JAN 2000

Immediate Opening for Nurses

By Vanessa S. Barcelona
  It appears that the immigration of nurses into the U.S. is once again a hot topic. Many hospitals around the U.S. have announced a shortage of nurses within their facilities, and are once again recruiting foreign nurses en masse. What laws are presently available to facilitate the entry of nurses into the U.S.?

On November 12, 1999, President Clinton signed into law the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act. This new law creates a separate non-immigrant category for non-immigrant nurses, who may now enter the U.S. on the
newly-created H-1C visa. Before you start thinking, however, that what we have here is the resurrection of the cancelled H-1A category, note that only 500 visas annually for the next 4 years will be allocated. Furthermore, the H-1C will be available only for work in any of the health professional shortage areas designated by the Department of Health and Human Services. Unless the H-1C sponsorship, therefore, involves placement in a shortage area, the petition will not be approved.

For the most part, therefore, it appears that we are still left with the other means to bring nurses into the United States -- the immigrant visa petition. Following the cancellation of the H-1A, and prior to the suspension of green card approvals pending announcements of the new certification requirements, the immigrant route was practically the only available means for nurses to enter the U.S.

Thankfully, in the past year the U.S. Consulate has resumed interviews of nurses seeking an immigrant visa at the various consulates worldwide. For years, interviews were not scheduled pending issuance of the regulations involving the now-required Visa Screen Certificate, a certificate validating that the immigrating nurse has fulfilled all regulatory requirements including a review of his/her education, licensure, experience, and English language proficiency.

This article will attempt to answer the most common questions one may ask in seeking to fulfill the necessary criteria for immigrating to the U.S. as a nurse. It will also take into account those questions relevant to the nurses who are already in the U.S., who are or will be applying for adjustment of status.

1. What are the requirements for issuance of the Visa Screen Certificate?

Essentially, a certificate will be issued if the applicant successfully demonstrates the following: education that is comparate to that of a U.S.-educated nurse; unencumbered licensure in the foreign country; passing scores on the CGFNS exam or the NCLEX-RN exam; and passing scores on the English language exam -- this can either mean passing scores on the TOEFL, TSE and TWE; or passing scores on the MELAB.

2. At what point of the process is the Visa Screen Certificate required?

One must have the Visa Screen Certificate before the adjustment of status is granted, if the applicant is in the U.S.; or before the visa is granted at
the consulate, if one is outside the country. It is not necessary, in filing the immigrant visa petition (I-140) with the INS, to have the certificate at that point. At the INS level, it is sufficient to show passing scores on the
CGFNS exam; or state licensure. Once the I-140 is approved, this will either allow the Beneficiary to apply for adjustment of status or make the arrangements for the consular interview abroad. No adjustment will be
granted; or no immigrant visa will be approved, without proof of having obtained the Visa Screen Certificate.

3. What is the foreign nurse was already the beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition filed years ago?

Unfortunately, unless the I-140 petitioner is still available and interested in extending the job offer, the Beneficiary cannot use that approved I-140 to proceed at the consular level at this time. On the same token, one with a pending adjustment of status application who changes employers will be required to have a new I-140 filed on their behalf, in order to proceed with the already-pending adjustment of status application. Thus, in both cases, a new I-140 will have to be filed and approved. It is noteworthy, however, to mention that a copy of the approved I-140 whould be included in the new I-140 petition, as it may speed up approval of the new I-140.



4. Is State licensure required to obtain an immigrant visa at the consular level?

No. The whole purpose of requiring the Visa Screen Certificate is to assess
the foreign nurse's chances of passing the U.S. licensure exam, and obtaining licensure in the U.S. The CGFNS exam is modeled on the NCLEX-RN examination taken for state licensure. Therefore, the Visa Screen Certificate is designed to identify nurses with a high potential of obtaining U.S. licensure, and this sufficiently satisfies the government's interest in ensuring that the foreign nurse is qualified to practice the profession in the U.S.

5. Who issues the Visa Screen Certificate and how do I contact them?

The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) has been authorized by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to issue the required certificates. The same organization has been authorized to issue certification to foreign-trained physical therapists and occupational therapists as well. You may contact them by telephone at 215-222-8454; by mail at 3600 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19104-2651; or you may visit their website at www.cgfns.org.

It was hoped, by revisiting this old but currently timely topic, that the reader would be provided with sufficient information to determine, where applicable, the feasibility of utilizing this means of immigrating to the U.S., whether it is for themselves, or for friends and family members. For additional information, please contact an immigration lawyer.

VANESSA S. BARCELONA is a partner with the law offices of Barcelona & Pilarski, P.A. She obtained her law degree from the University of Florida. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, and the Florida Bar. Please send all e-mails to: vsbarcelona@earthlink.net


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