Filing the Visa Screen Certificate for Foreign-Trained Occupational Therapists in the United States

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 (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.

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POEA eases OFW exit procedure at airports

For our overseas Filipino workers (OFW), this latest news release by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration is such a welcome development.

March 19, 2008. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration is dropping the validation of documents of OFWs leaving through its labor assistance counters (LAC) at international airports in compliance with the directive of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to further streamline processes in the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Administrator Rosalinda Dimaplis-Baldoz said starting March 24, 2008, departing OFWs shall present the exit clearance or overseas employment certificate issued by the POEA directly to the airline counters, terminal fee counters, and the Bureau of Immigration counters.

The POEA labor assistance counter shall remain open 24/7, but its services shall be limited to assisting OFWs with documentation problems, issuing overseas employment certificates (OEC) to OFWs leaving the country within 24 hours, and dissemination of information and education materials to OFWs and families.

The implementation of the new procedure coincides with the start of the peak season when thousands of OFWs are expected to return to their job sites after attending the graduation of their family members, and observing Holy Week in the country.

The POEA has labor assistance counters at NAIA 1, NAIA 2, Mactan International Airport, Davao International Airport, and Diosdado Macapagal International Airport.

Source: POEA

Lower OWWA Fees for OFWs

Here’s good news for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has reduced the OWWA contribution US Dollar-Peso exchange rate from US$1.00 : PhP 51.00 to US$1.00 : PhP 42.00. This has taken effect last 17 December 2007 when the Board of Trustees enacted OWWA Resolution No. 38. As a result, the OWWA contribution rate has been reduced to One Thousand and Fifty Pesos (PhP 1,050.00).

OWWA Resolution No. 38 will also be applied retroactively to benefit OFWs who paid the OWWA membership contribution at the old exchange rate for the period of 01 January – 18 December 2007. OWWA contributors during the said period will be issued credit memoranda, which shall entitle the bearer OWWA member to an extended OWWA membership for a period of three (3) months beyond the two (2) years / twenty-four (24) months maximum entitlement to OWWA programs and services. These members will be notified in writing of their entitlement to the said credit memorandum.

And to make sure that the collection of OWWA membership contributions would reflect accurately the changing dollar-peso exchange rate, the aforementioned resolution also provided that the said exchange rate would be based on the average dollar-peso exchange rate of the preceding month as determined by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Source: OWWA

Please take note that this rate is only for December 2007. OWWA contribution rate for January 2008 is PhP 1043.58 as US Dollar-Peso exchange rate for this month is US$1.00 = P41.743. To keep you updated, we suggest you visit the OWWA website to check on the monthly changes in the US Dollar-Peso exchange rate.

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