If you are being petitioned for a temporary work visa or green card to work in healthcare, you may need to get a special credential for U.S. immigration purposes. This credential, commonly referred to as a “VisaScreen”, is required for:
- Nurses (RN, LPN/LVN)
- Physical Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- Medical Technologists
- Medical Technicians
- Speech-Language Pathologists
- Physician Assistants
The VisaScreen states that you have the required education to work in the U.S., the required professional licenses to work in the U.S., and that none of your professional licenses around the world have been suspended or revoked.
A VisaScreen is required to work any one of these jobs in the United States, even if you have been U.S.-educated. If you are U.S.-educated, the process is streamlined. However, you still need to have one.
VisaScreens are issued by three private companies that have all been certified by the U.S. government. The largest one is the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), which certifies all of the listed occupations. Physical Therapists may order a credential through CGFNS or through the Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy. Occupational Therapists may order a credential through CGFNS or through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.
If you are already working with a company that has offered you a job, you should start pursuing your VisaScreen as soon as possible. This may require you to sit an English exam like the TOEFL or IELTS. You must have a VisaScreen by the time of your nonimmigrant (i.e., H-1B) or immigrant visa interview at the embassy or consulate. If you are in the United States, you should have your VisaScreen by the time you file your change of status into H-1B or file your I-485. Failure to have a VisaScreen at the correct time will lead to a 221(g) refusal at the consulate or a Request for Evidence if you are in the U.S.