Thursday, September 26, 2013


AILA has confirmed with the State Department that all of this fiscal year’s immigrant visas have been used.  This is normal in September.  The US Fiscal Year ends on September 30. 

USCIS will continue to process pending adjustment cases, and is able to submit visa number requests for all cases which are being finalized.  The State Department will place requests in a “Pending Demand” file.  Eligible cases which have been submitted to the State Department that are within the October cut-off dates will be automatically authorized effective October 1, 2013.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The below post was brought to my attention by Michigan attorney Marc Topoleski.  Much of this post is taken directly from a recent email exchange between us.

Canadian nurse licensure in Ontario is governed by the College of Nurses of Ontario.  The CNO has changed their policy for Non- Practising Ontario nurses, such as those who have moved to the US. 

Under the new policy non-practicing Ontario nurses must convert their CNO membership to a registration in the Non- Practising Class.  This requires an annual fee.  A nurse registered in the Non- Practising class cannot practice nursing in Ontario, not even in a volunteer capacity.  These nurses also have a second option.  They can resign their CNO membership. 

One question that Marc and I have is whether this new policy will have any impact on Canadian nurses from Ontario at the time of their VisaScreen renewal.  Neither of us has yet had a nurse in the Non-Practising class apply for a Visa Screen renewal.

Our opinion is that if an Ontario nurse allows his/her license to go inactive (by converting to the Non-Practising class) or lapse (by failing to renew license because they are not actively practicing in Ontario that this should have no impact as part of CGFNS’ license validation. 

Marc also passes along additional notes about nurses returning to Ontario.

Ontario nurses who choose to maintain registration in the Non-Practising class need to apply for reinstatement of their CNO membership if they want to return to Ontario to practice nursing.  The reinstatement process includes passing the Ontario RN Jurisprudence Examination.  The RN Jurisprudence Examination is an online examination that assesses an applicant's knowledge and understanding of the laws, regulations, by-laws, practice standards and guidelines that govern the nursing profession in Ontario.  There is a $40 fee (CDN) to take the exam.  This exam is different than the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE), which is the Canadian national examination that measures the competencies required of nurses at the beginning of their practice.

For Ontario nurses who choose to resign their CNO membership, they can apply for reinstatement within 3 years of the date their CNO membership ended without having to take any examinations, but would have to pay reinstatement fees.  However, if a nurse wanted to return to practice as a nurse in Ontario after 3 years from the date their CNO membership ended, it appears they would have to apply for licensure under the same process as first-time applicants.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


CGFNS is the only organization authorized by USCIS to issue Healthcare Worker Certificates (Visa Screen) to Registered Nurses. Among other things, CGFNS verifies the authenticity of the nurse's primary source documents, including the nurse's education.  As part of their normal course of activity, CGFNS saves documents for four years. 

CGFNS is now launching their eSAVED system. By purchasing eSAVED an applicant can have their electronic files saved at CGFNS for an additional year for $25. CGFNS is also offering to store files for an additional four years for $50, which represents a 50% savings on a year to year basis. The four year program at $50 is a promotional rate, conditioned upon applicant's purchasing by September 30, 2013. 

 CGFNS also issues Visa Screens for other healthcare occupations, such as Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists, although these are much smaller programs when compared to their monopoly on Registered Nursing certifications.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


The Department of State has just released the October 2013 Visa Bulletin.  This is the first Visa Bulletin of the 2014 US Fiscal Year, which begin October 1, 2013.  There was virtually no change in the dates from the September 2013 Visa Bulletin.  The September 2013 Visa Bulletin had a massive promotion of dates.

The lack of retrogression  in the new Visa Bulletin was a welcome surprise.  The Department of State's comments in the prior Visa Bulletin led some to fear that there would be a retrogression.  In those comments, the  DOS explained that the massive promotion of dates in the September 2013 Visa Bulletin was done to insure that all available Fiscal Year 2013 immigrant visas were used before the FY-2013 year's end on September 30, 2013.

It is not expected that the next few Visa Bulletins will include significant promotions of dates.  We may see the next promotions of dates after the New Year.

Here is the chart:

October 2013 Visa Bulletin
All Other CountriesChina IndiaPhilippines

Monday, September 9, 2013


Because Physical Therapists have been designated by the U.S. Department of Labor as a ‘Schedule A occupation’, they are exempt from the labor certification process (PERM) required for most employment based immigrant visas.  Physical Therapy positions are eligible for EB-2 classification. The EB-2 category is the immigrant visa classification for positions requiring at least an advanced degree (Master’s degree or higher) or a Bachelor’s degree and five years of progressively responsible experience.

Generally speaking there is no backlog for EB-2 visas for most countries (excluding India, Mexico, and China) and thus an immigrant visa can be obtained “immediately” as soon as the normal case processing is completed. In contrast, obtaining an immigrant visa for an individual filing in the EB-3 classification is currently a lengthy process which takes between four to seven years.

The USCIS has struggled with processing Physical Therapist EB-2 petitions.  At issue is not whether these positions require a Master’s Degree.   At issue is whether the Beneficiaries hold the US equivalent of a Masters Degree.  The problem stems from the fact that many Philippine colleges issue a diploma labeled “Bachelors” degree”.  When US educational evaluators review the diploma, coursework, and credit hours, they equate this education background to a US Masters Degree.  Educators such as FCCPT and 53 US state and territory licensing jurisdictions all universally find that these degrees are equal to a US Masters Degree.  All of the private educational evaluators that we have worked with have also issued Masters equivalent opinions.  The opinion appears to be universal.

Well, almost universal.  The USCIS often looks to AACRAO as its preferred educational evaluator.  AACRAO’s EDGE evaluation system alone has determined that these Philippine degrees are not equal to a US Master’s Degree.  Throughout the summer MU Law has filed several similar briefs explaining this issue to the USCIS’ Administrative Appeals Office.  While we think we have the better argument, the decision-making rests in the AAO’s hands.  We will let you know as soon as the AAO releases their decision.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


The Department of State (DOS) is replacing the DS-230 with the new electronic DS-260.  Beneficiaries submitting new cases that arrive at the National Visa Center (NVC) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on or after September 1 will be instructed to complete the DS-260 instead of the DS-230.  Like the DS-230, the DS-260 is valid for one year from the date of the oath. After the oath expires, the DS-260 will automatically unlock and DOS officers will tell the applicant to update and resubmit the DS-260.  The DOS has published a FAQ on their webpage.

The DOS will not require DS-260s for beneficiaries of "pipeline" cases already in process at NVC on September 1 if:  1) the case has already been documentarily qualified and sent to scheduling, or 2) NVC receives a single submission of documents that makes a case documentarily qualified.

For all other pipeline cases where NVC has occasion to send a "checklist" of missing documents after September 1, NVC will instruct petitioners/agents/beneficiaries to submit the DS-260 along with those missing documents, even if a DS-230 was already on file.  Those filing petitions locally overseas (with either USCIS or a consular section) on or after September 1 must submit a DS-260 once the petition is approved.