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What is VisaScreen and why is it relevant for immigration?

By October 14, 2022Immigration
A healthcare worker

VisaScreen refers to a credentials assessment service that is required for certain types of healthcare workers who are applying for temporary or permanent U.S. work visas. VisaScreen is required under Section 343 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (the IIRIRA). This law requires that certain healthcare workers coming to work in the U.S. demonstrate that their education, licenses and professional registrations meet U.S. Federal screening requirements.

Which healthcare professionals must use VisaScreen?

VisaScreen assessments are relevant for applicants looking to work in the U.S. in the following occupations: registered nurses or licensed practical or vocational nurses; physical therapists; clinical laboratory technicians or scientists; medical laboratory technicians or scientists; occupational therapists; physician assistants; audiologists; and speech language pathologists.

What are the required documents for VisaScreen?

To use this service, the applicants must submit the following:

  • Secondary school diploma or a certificate showing the level of secondary education achieved (this requirement will be waived if the applicant completed secondary school more than ten years ago).
  • Any relevant licenses, registrations and diplomas that the applicant ever held in any jurisdiction
  • Academic transcripts for any education that is relevant to the profession. A syllabus and course descriptions may also be required.
  • Registered nurses must also show evidence that they passed the CGFNS Qualifying Exam or the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) (*some limited exceptions apply).
  • There is also an English language requirement. The requirement is satisfied by showing a passing score from one of the tests listed below. The required score depends on the type of healthcare work you will perform.
    • Cambridge English (B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency exams)
    • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
    • MET (Michigan English Test)
    • OET (Occupational English Test)
    • Pearson PTE Academic
    • TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language, Internet-based Test)
    • TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication)
  • Some applicants may be exempt from the English language requirement. For example, applicants who completed their professional education in the UK, Australia, Canada (excluding Quebec), New Zealand, Ireland or the U.S. and were instructed in English may be exempt. Renewal applicants may also be exempt based on showing a certain length of employment in the U.S. in the relevant profession.
  • Applicants must also pay fees to use the VisaScreen service.

What happens after the information is submitted?

The assessment service will screen and assess the documents to verify that the applicant’s education level is equivalent to a U.S. graduate in the healthcare profession. They will also examine all licenses to ensure they are valid. They will also give an English language proficiency exam and for registered nurses, they will verify that they passed either the CGFNS Qualifying Exam or the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). If the applicant was educated in the U.S., there is a streamlined review process.

When the process is successful, the applicant will receive an official ICHP Certificate which can be used to show the U.S. government that the applicant has successfully completed the screening process and met the federal requirements to work in the U.S. in this healthcare occupation. The certificates are valid for 5 years from the date they are issued and the applicant will need to renew with VisaScreen after that time if they are working in the U.S. on a temporary visa, such as a TN or H-1B. Workers who have become green card holders or U.S. citizens do not need to renew the VisaScreen certification.

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