Hammond Law Group, LLC has begun to receive reports indicating some state Boards of Nursing have begun to implement the NCSBN’s 2009 recommendation that the minimum IELTS band score on all bands except the spoken be raised to a minimum of 6.  It does not appear that CGFNS/ICHP has yet implemented these recommendations; however, some states, such as South Carolina, have already done so.

Here is a link to the South Carolina Board of Nursing website showing their upgraded standards for IELTS. Interestingly, the new raised standards were not announced on the site in any way, and in fact, according to reports we have received, were implemented before the new standards were even published on the website. It is our understanding that the first time some applicants were made aware of the new standards were when their applications were denied for having IELTS scores that did not meet the new standards.

South Carolina IELTS Requirements: http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/Nursing/PDF/English%20Proficiency.pdf

As you can imagine, this could become extremely problematic for foreign educated RN’s, given the trend of more US states refusing to issue actual nursing licenses until the foreign national has entered the US and obtained a Social Security number. It is entirely possible that many RN’s with non-passing scores may not learn of this until they actual arrive in the US, at which point they will be left in the very difficult position of having to re-take IELTS before being able to obtain their licenses and begin working to support their families.

The lesson to be learned here is that it is probably a good practice to contact the Board of Nursing in states of intended employment and confirm the current IELTS passing scores required by the Board prior to the arrival of foreign educated nurses.