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What is VisaScreen and Do You Need It to Get Your Visa?

If you’re a healthcare professional looking to work in the U.S., you should be sure to familiarize yourself with VisaScreen. VisaScreen: Visa Credentials Assessment Service is a comprehensive screening service for healthcare professionals.  Section 343 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 requires specific health care professionals to complete a screening program before they can receive their occupational visa. The Department of Homeland Security issued a regulation, effective July 25, 2003, which implements the VisaScreen certification requirement for immigrant and nonimmigrant health care workers. This screening process is required to be completed before a foreign national healthcare worker can receive either a permanent or temporary employment visa, including Trade NAFTA status.

VisaScreen is applicable for registered nurses, licensed practical or vocation nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, physician assistants, audiologists, speech language pathologists, clinical laboratory technicians (medical laboratory technicians) and clinical laboratory scientists (medical laboratory scientists). The screening process is comprised of an educational analysis, licensure validation, English language proficiency assessment, and for registered nurses only, an exam of nursing knowledge. Once all elements of the assessment are successfully completed, you will receive a VisaScreen certificate. The VisaScreen certificate satisfies U.S. Federal Screening requirements. This certificate can then be presented to a consular office or, if for an adjustment of status, to the attorney general as part of the visa application process. Payment for the process must be made in U.S. dollars.

It is also important to note that a certified statement may be issued to nurses educated outside of the U.S. who meet a specific set of qualifications. IIRIRA also permits a streamlined process for applicants born outside of the U.S. who received entry-level professional education in the U.S. VisaScreen certificates are valid for five years from the issue date. Healthcare workers who have not obtained a permanent visa or have not become a U.S. citizen must reapply to obtain a new certificate before its expiration date. Renewal applicants are eligible for expedited review service, so long as certain requirements are met. Additional services provided include document translation, as well as forwarding of academic records, transcripts, registration licenses and certifications.

If you are a foreign national healthcare worker looking to work in the U.S. and have questions or concerns about VisaScreen or the visa process in general, please give our office a call to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys!