This news is for foreign-trained Occupational Therapists in the United States who are working on converting their H1-B visas (work visa) to permanent resident status (greencard).
According to Immspec.com (U.S. Immigration Forms Processing Service for Foreign Nurses and Pharmacists), a company that describes itself as “an in-house immigration administration support specialist”, the Visa Screening program is described as follows:
Visa screening program verifies that the education of an alien healthcare worker seeking job in the United States is equivalent to that of his/her US educated counter part
An overview of visa screen certification:
U.S. immigration law now requires that healthcare professionals (except physicians) qualified outside the United States complete a screening program in order to qualify for certain US working visas. VisaScreen™, also known as Visa Credentials Assessment, enables healthcare workers to meet this requirement by verifying and evaluating their credentials to ensure compliance with the government’s minimum eligibility standards.
VisaScreen™ program is administrated by the International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), which is a division of CGFNS (Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools). Candidates who successfully complete this program receive a VisaScreen™ Certificate. This certification authenticates that the foreign national’s education, license, training, and experience are comparable to that of a US healthcare professional.
Visa screen certificate can be presented to a consulate office, or in the case of Adjustment of Status, the Attorney General, as part of application process of an occupational visa. The visa screening program normally involves licensure verification, educational credentialing, English language proficiency testing (TOEFL, TSE, TWE), and a predictive exam (CGFNS Certificate).
The healthcare professionals who are required to obtain a VisaScreen™ Certificate before they can get an immigrant visa or permanent residence (“green card”) include occupational therapists, physical therapists, nurses, speech-language pathologists, medical technicians (or clinical laboratory technicians), medical technologists (or clinical laboratory scientists), and physician assistants. With respect to the green card process, the VisaScreen Certificate is not required for an employer to file an I-140 immigrant petition on behalf of a foreign national to sponsor them for lawful permanent residence (i.e. green card). However, once the I-140 immigrant petition is approved, the beneficiary and foreign national must obtain the VisaScreen Certificate before they can be issued an immigrant visa.
To satisfy all federal screening requirements, a VisaScreen™ evaluation includes:
To make sure that the candidate’s education:
- Meets all appropriate, statutory and regulatory requirements for the occupation the applicant intends to practice.
- Is equivalent to that of a U.S. graduate seeking licensure.
- To assess initial and current licenses, provided directly to ICHP by the issuing/validating institution, to confirm the applicant has completed all practice requirements and has no encumbrances.
English Language Skills Assessment
- To confirm that the applicant has reached a level of competency in oral and written English by submitting passing scores on a test approved by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education.
(Take a look at the passing scores you will need to obtain – English Passing Scores)
Healthcare workers other than nurses do not need the NCLEX exam or CGFNS Certificate in order to apply for the Visa Screen Certificate.
For foreign-trained Occupational Therapists working in the United States, there are 2 agencies authorized that may issue the Visa Screen (valid for 5 years only) depending on the state where the educational credentialling is processed — the National Board of Certification of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and the CGFNS/ICHP. For example, in the state of New York, the educational credentialling agency is CGFNS/ICHP, whereas the states of Missouri, Texas, and Oklahoma, visa screening is done through the NBCOT. The difference?
NBCOT: Visa Credential Verification Certificate (VCVC)
Access the link at the NBCOT website.
1. All first-time and renewing applicants are required to have passed the national certification examination for occupational therapists. Required within 1 year of passing the NBCOT.
2. First-time applicants are required to pass the English language proficiency tests (TOEFL, TSE, TWE or TOEFL iBT).
3. Renewing applicants, however, are not required to take the English language tests PROVIDED that they have not lived outside the U.S. for 3 consecutive years within the last 5 years prior to the renewal date.
4. Initial Certificate fee processing is $300.00 and certification renewal fee is $150.00
CGFNS/ICHP: Visa Screen Certificate
Access the link at the CGFNS website.
1. All first-time and renewing applicants are not required to pass the national certification examination examination for occupational therapists. Required for applicants currently processing immigration adjustment of status, who wish to be admitted, re-admitted, or extend their stay in the U.S. on or after July 26, 2004.
2. First-time and renewing applicants are required to keep their English proficiency test scores current (TOEFL, TSE, TWE or TOEFL iBT).
3. Initial certificate processing fee is $498.00, and certification renewal is $250.00.
NOTE: English proficiency test result validity is 2 years from examination date.
CGFNS International. (1998, October). Visa Screen Program. Retrieved online on August 26, 2009 from website: http://www.cgfns.org/sections/programs/vs/
Immspec.com. (2004, June). Visa Screen Overview. Retrieved online on August 26, 2009 from website: http://www.immspec.com/visa-screen.htm
National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (2003, July). NBCOT Visa Credential Verification Certificate Program. Retrieved online on August 26, 2009 from website: http://www.nbcot.org/webarticles/anmviewer.asp?a=263&z=50
Pendergast, J. (2005). International Health Care Professional Migration. Journal of Nursing Law, 10, 208-213. Retrieved online on August 26, 2009 from website: http://www.hammondlawfirm.com/int_healthcare_professional_migration_article.pdf