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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Nurses and Allied Healthcare Workers - IIRIRA Section 343 -- VisaScreen and Updates (Part II)
by Frieda Wong & Bernard P. Wolfsdorf

English Language Test

Part of Section 343 VisaScreen requires immigrant healthcare workers to demonstrate competence in oral and written English by obtaining an appropriate score on either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Test of Written English (TWE) and the Test of Spoken English (TSE) or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB). The English Passing Score component of Section 343 has presented tremendous problems. Firstly, even native English speakers or graduates from universities where the mode of instruction is in English are not exempt from taking the English language test. The only group exempted, are healthcare workers educated in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada (except Quebec). Moreover, the unusually high passing score requirement has excluded numerous otherwise qualified allied healthcare workers from qualifying as immigrant workers.

Conclusion

Even though more than six years have lapsed since the passage of IIRIRA, there still remains tremendous confusion with regards to the Section 343 credentialing requirements for healthcare workers. Firstly, as a result of INS delays and piecemeal efforts at implementing Section 343 and secondly, the substantial backlogged paperwork at CGFNS (currently the only organization authorized to issue Section 343 certificates to all affected professionals), together with the excessive VisaScreen application fee, all serve to exacerbate the problem and prevent the timely recruitment of qualified healthcare workers. Congress' attempt to harmonize educational and training credentials between foreign born and domestic healthcare workers has resulted in a costly, redundant credentialing hurdle that has intensified the ongoing crisis of shortage of nurses and allied healthcare workers. There is no logical reason why foreign healthcare workers (some of whom may be trained in the U.S.) should have to comply with credentialing requirements above and beyond those required of U.S. workers. As we face an aging population where the need for healthcare workers and nurses has never been higher, Congress should consider eliminating the draconian Section 343 requirement to ameliorate the crisis and improve patient care.

WHAT IS THE ENGLISH PASSING SCORE FOR MY PROFESSION?

Nurses Occupational Therapists Physical Therapists Speech Language Pathologists Medical Technologists Physician Assistants Medical Technicians
TOEFL 540 560 560 540 540 540 530
TWE 4.0 4.5 4.5 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0
TSE 50 50 50 50 50 50 50
MELAB - N/A N/A - - - -
Oral 3+ - - 3+ 3+ 3+ 3+
Section 1,2,3 79 Average - - 79 Average 79 Average 79 Average 79 Average

WHICH CREDENTIALING ORGANIZATION SHOULD I CONTACT?

Nurses Occupational Therapists Physical Therapists Speech Language Pathologists Medical Technologists Physician Assistants Medical Technicians
CGFNS YES NO YES YES YES YES YES
NBCOT NO YES NO NO NO NO NO
FCCPT NO NO YES NO NO NO NO

CONTACT INFORMATION:

TOEFL
TOEFL/TSE Publications
Test of English as a Foreign Language
PO Box 6151
Princeton, NJ 08541-6151
Telephone: 609-771-7100
www.toefl.org
MELAB
English Language Institute (ELI)
MELAB Testing
TCF Building
401 East Liberty, Suite 350
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2298
Telephone: 734-764-2416
Fax: 734-763-0369
Email: melabelium@umich.edu
CGFNS
International Commission on Healthcare Profession
3600 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19104-2665
Fax: 215-349-0026
www.cgfns.org

NBCOT
800 South Frederick Avenue, Suite 200
Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150
Telephone: 301-990-7979
Fax: 301-869-8492
www.nbcot.org
FCCPT
Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy
511 Wythe Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Telephone: 703-684-8406
Fax: 703-684-8715
www.fccpt.org


About The Author

Frieda Wong is a supervising attorney at Wolfsdorf Associates in Los Angeles, and practices exclusively in the area of immigration and nationality law. Ms. Wong graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a B.A. in Business Administration, and received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. If you have any questions concerning this article, please contact Frieda Wong at fwong@wolfsdorf.com or 1(800)-visa-law.

Bernard P. Wolfsdorf practices exclusively in the area of immigration and nationality law in Los Angeles. He is a California state bar-certified specialist in immigration and nationality law and is listed in Martindale Hubbell's Pre-eminent Specialist Directory, and in the International Who's Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers. Mr. Wolfsdorf has served on numerous AILA liaison committees, including the AILA/CSC Liaison Committee and the State Department Liaison Committee, and is currently serving on the American Bar Association's Coordinating Committee on Immigration Law. His office assists applicants with consular visa interviews and he is a frequent lecturer on consular processing.


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