Summation of Homeland Security’s Final VisaScreen Requirement

The VisaScreen requirement, which was established in 1996 in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act, requires all foreign nationals seeking to enter the U.S. primarily to work in certain healthcare fields to present certification from authorized credentialing organizations. This certificate, known as the VisaScreen certificate, should establish that the foreign national’s education, training, experience and license compare to similar qualifications in American healthcare workers. The certificate should also establish that the foreign national meets all legal requirements for entry into the U.S. under their proposed visa classification, and that the national is competent in the English language. If the foreign national is a nurse, the certificate will also establish that the nurse has passed either the CGFNS or the NCLEX exam.

The VisaScreen requirement applies to foreign nationals seeking to enter the U.S. to work in the following vocations:

1. Licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, and registered nurses;

2. Occupational therapists;

3. Physical therapists;

4. Speech language pathologists and audiologists;

5. Medical technologists (clinical laboratory scientists);

6. Physician assistants; and

7. Medical technicians (clinical laboratory technicians).

This requirement only applies to the above stated occupations. It does not apply to physicians, medical teachers, researchers and facility managers.

The VisaScreen certificate is valid for up to five years after its issue date. After this five-year period, foreign nationals must obtain new certificates to fulfill this requirement. However, if used once during the initial five-year period, the certificate may be valid for a longer period of time. This certificate must be presented to a consular officer at the time of visa issuance, and again to the Homeland Security officer at the point of entry.

This final rule of the VisaScreen requirement will take effect July 26, 2004. Prior to this date, foreign nationals in the above stated occupations may be issued admission for a period of no more than one year. The foreign national will be required to obtain a VisaScreen certificate within one year of the date of their admission, extension or change of status.

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