The VisaScreen Process

Dealing with any state or provincial nursing organization can be frustrating and I found I was NOT pleasantly surprised when I went to renew my VisaScreen certificate for another five years.

I was first presented with the fact that in 2003,that I, as a Canadian Travel Nurse working in the U.S., would now need a VisaScreen certificate because of the increased surveillance of “foreigners” by Homeland Security post the 9-1-1 incident. While I appreciated that, and understand the ramifications of that most tragic event, I felt I had already paid my dues-literally and figuratively speaking by all the exams, money letting to agencies and cross examination by immigration officers at border crossings.

It seemed to be the “icing on the cake” as I was already licensed and cleared to work in Massachusetts, Oklahoma and to do Hawaii travel nursing. I must tell you that patience and perseverance do pay off but you must be willing to call the CGFNS on a routine basis and be able to wait on the phone for up to 30 minutes at a time to help your claim along. Also be able to call nurse licensing organizations because NEVER ASSUME that things have gone along smoothly. Take names of phone agents and be able to quote what they said on your previous call. The procedure is this.

You must prove that you are an educated, licensed,professional nurse by contacting your original nursing school and every Canadian nursing association and American nursing association of which you have been a member. Each of these groups have to verify that you are or were licensed to practice as an R.N. in their state or province. Of course each of these offices will also charge individual fees for their services.

I eventually received my original Visa Screen certificate in 2004. I would estimate it took 3-4 months for this process to take place. In 2009 it was up for renewal and because my life situation had changed, I wondered whether or not it would be wise to renew this document.

I was able to apply through the CGFNS.org website and of course pay the renewal fee(almost as costly as the original certificate) I let time go by and did not act on this immediately. I became employed in Canada and let things ride. A few months later I decided “NO” I probably will not return to the U.S. to work anytime soon. I called the CGFNS and was informed that they would NOT refund my fee. So rather than pay for something I would not receive and let them have the fee, I decided to go ahead with the renewal. By this time it was very close to Christmas ( a VERY bad time of year for those nursing offices to do anything) I must say I was very impressed with the State licensing agencies who processed my requests for verification in record time-AND right before Christmas. I now had an extended deadline into February 2010.

The CGFNS of course, would have been delighted to extend the deadline for renewal for an extra $150.00 (!!) The two provincial nursing boards in Ontario and British Columbia were contacted as the CGFNS maintained they had NEVER received their verification. So the College of Nurses of Ontario agreed to resend their information by Purolator so I could track it (added cost of course) as did the CRNABC.

With constant emails and two Purolator or UPS deliveries, the CGFNS received the verifications on the day before the deadline expired. Know this-Once the information was processed to their satisfaction I received the new VisaScreen Certificate from Philadelphia via expedited delivery in THREE days to my door!

As mentioned before, NEVER ASSUME that things are being done for you. It takes constant phone calls, especially to the CGFNS, your state or provincial nursing agencies: get names, numbers and email addresses. I found that some people NEVER answer their phones but will send emails.

Become these people’s worst nightmares if you need to! It will help you in the long run. I wish you GOOD LUCK in your endeavor!!!

Authors John and Janet Weidendorf R.N.

John and Janet Weidendorf are owners of [http://www.travel-nurse-coach.com]. Our website is a free online resource for Canadian, International and American nurses who wish to travel. Janet is a registered nurse who has worked on travel assignments in several places including exotic places like Maui. Nurse License information is available including articles on housing and a classified ad section for healthcare workers.