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US Nursing Exams: CGFNS vs NCLEX-RN®

Now that some states have removed the requirement of taking the CGFNS qualifying exam prior to being allowed to sit for the NCLEX-RN®, it has become easier and faster for foreign-educated nurses to get a VisaScreen™ and eventually migrate to the US to work as Registered Nurses.

What is a VisaScreen™?

U.S. Immigration law now requires that healthcare professionals, other than physicians, complete a screening program in order to qualify for certain occupational visas. VisaScreen™, a program offered by The International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), a division of CGFNS, enables healthcare professionals to meet this requirement by verifying and evaluating their credentials to ensure that they meet the government’s minimum eligibility standards. CGFNS is named in Federal law as a qualified provider of such a screening program.

If I am a registered nurse, do I need to complete the CGFNS Qualifying Exam and the NCLEX-RN® examination in order to complete my VisaScreen™ application?

No. You only need to successfully complete either one of the exams.

Source: CGFNS VisaScreen™ FAQ

A noted US immigration lawyer also pointed out that employers now prefer NCLEX-RN® passers over CGFNS passers.

As a practical matter, the NCLEX exam is the far more desirable of the two exams to take. The NCLEX exam is usually the final step in the licensing process. Healthcare employers prefer to petition those RNs who are already licensed in the state where they will be working so that they can be put to work immediately. With an unlicensed RN, employers run the risk that the RN may not pass the NCLEX exam and the employer is stuck with an employee that they cannot use in the RN capacity.

Source: Manila Bulletin Article by Robert Reeves

It musted be noted, however, that while several states have decided to forego with the CGFNS qualifying exam, some non-CGFNS states like Illinois and New York still require a Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) report and Credentials Verification Service (CVS) respectively which are issued by the CGFNS.

The CGFNS Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) is a report prepared by CGFNS for a Board of Registration/Licensure, university, immigration office, employer, etc. This report analyzes the education and licensure earned outside of the United States in terms of how it compares with U.S. standards and expectations. There is no examination included in this program; once all required documentation, fees and a completed application are received, a report will be prepared and submitted to the recipient (i.e., Board of Nursing [if applying for U.S. licensure], U.S. college/university [if applying for academic admission], an employer, etc.) as well as a copy to the applicant.

Source: CGFNS CES Fact Sheet
CGFNS created the Credentials Verification Service (CVS) for New York State to independently verify credentials of foreign-educated healthcare professionals who are seeking licensure in New York State.

Source: CGFNS CVS Page

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