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CGFNS for Nurses OET and PTE Now Accepted

Tanya Freedman, CEO Connetics USA: Hi, Mukul, welcome. Hey, Tanya. Thank you so much for the invitation. It's great to see you. We are excited to have you here. You are a very special, honored guest. And we had a show last week, Mukul, and before we do introductions, just to let you know, on the announcement that the CGFNS made and the new change with the English Proficiency exam, and we had, I think it was 80,000 views on the show last week, so there's a lot of interest in this topic. So we're really excited to have you here today as the first part of our show.

And we're going to start with some introductions. So if you want to maybe introduce yourself and we can start there. Great. Thank you so much, Tanya. Hello, everyone. My name is Mukul Bakhshi. I am at CGFNS. I've been here for eight years, first as the director of the alliance for Ethical International Recruitment Practices, which is the division of CGFNS that ensures that foreign educated health professionals coming to the US are treated fairly and ethically. And that's actually got Tanya Connetics is because they have committed to our code as a certified ethical recruiter.In addition, I'm the Chief of Strategy in Government Affairs at CGFNS, which is how I've been involved with these exciting changes on English language proficiency.

Well, thank you for sharing your background. And as I said, we're very excited to have you on the show. The first part of our show today is a continuation from last week because we have so much interest and so many people so excited about this change that was announced from CGFNS. And I see we have lots of viewers that are putting their names in the chat. So if you are joining us today, please put into the chat where you are and where you're watching from. And if you have any questions from Nicole. So I see we have Renzi saying hi. Arlene is from Jamaica. Beatrice is saying Long live Connetics. Thank you. Beatrice Ruen is saying hi. Ruling is an Indian candidate looking to apply. I really get to speak about that. Beatrice, Laura saying hi. Ada Lottie from Nigeria. Many, many people from watching from all over the world. So thank you for joining us, everybody.

If you have questions from local about the CGFNS change bringing in the English Proficiency, additional English Proficiency exams, please go ahead and put that into the chat and I'll be happy to ask that for you. So, Nicole, can you maybe let's take a step back from the announcement. Can you tell our viewers if they don't know? I mean, most international businesses will know about the CGFNS, but if somebody starting this journey and doesn't know what the role is at the CGFNS, can you give us a little bit of background? Absolutely.

So CGFNS has been around since 1000 977. It was established by the American Nurses Association, the National League of Nursing, and our mission is to help people bring their education and credentials across borders. So if you're coming we work around the world. We have programs in New Zealand and Canada. But specifically, for those of you who are interested in the United States, we have two things. So we have the Visa screen program, which is something that you need if you need an employment based visa to come to the US. So say you're a nurse and you want to get a visa, e three visa.

For example, to be a nurse here, you need a Visa Screen certificate from US. And so we provide that certificate to USCIS that says that you are qualified to be a nurse. So that's the visa piece, the immigration piece. Also, many states in most states require a report from US if you are looking for a license in that state. So essentially what we do is we validate your competencies, your credentials, so that regulatory bodies like state boards of nursing or US. Immigration can evaluate your credentials and say, all right, this person has what they need to either be licensed to practice here to get a visa. Okay, thanks, Nicole.

That's a great explanation and I think really shares with nurses exactly what the CGFNS and it does because there's a lot of confusion sometimes people hear a lot of names. There's the visa screen and the CGFNS. There's just a lot of services and things that the CGFNS offer. So it can be a little bit confusing how that actually fits into an already complex process. It's really an important function that the CGFNS fulfills, though.

Can you share with the viewers why the role that the CGFNS plays is so important for US employers? Absolutely, Tanya. And first, I want to highlight, you mentioned the complexity. I know this process is very complex. And that's why I think a lot of healthcare professionals benefit by working with certified ethical recruiters who you have been affirmed and validated, but can help navigate some of these challenges. So I think that's really important. So CGFNS is very important for a variety of reasons. I think we're the ones who are kind of validating those credentials on behalf of all these other stakeholders, like the employers and governments and stuff. So employers want to make sure that you have the visa that allows you to work in the United States and that you can get the license that you need to practice. And so we're the ones that are trusted to kind of serve that gatekeeper role to make sure that they're doing that, because there's a lot of complexity when we're looking at transcripts from around the world, licenses from around the world. We're the ones who are trusted to say, all right, these look authentic, and these mean what they mean here.

Okay, thanks, Mukul. I mean, really, the way we always explain it to the nurses is kind of how you say it, but from an employer's perspective, it gives them peace of mind. Absolutely. Nicole said CGFNS is the gatekeeper to make sure that you're a real nurse, and I'm sure you are for all our viewers. But if there's someone who's not a real nurse, we don't want that person trying to take care of patients in the United States.

Look, before we move on to the English Proficiency exam, I see we have a question in the chat from Ulawasion who's asking, how long does it take to process the visa screen once you apply? I've heard it takes up to six months. Yeah, I think that's accurate. So it varies a lot. Is the short answer depends on how long we can get, because obviously credentials have to be sent directly from the primary source. So that certainly can add a couple of months. If a credential has to be revalidated, we have to make sure it's authentic. That can also add up additional time.

And then just at each stage of the process, especially with so many people coming to the United States now are interested in visas, there's kind of backlogs at different pieces of the process. So I think six months is a reasonable estimate, but it certainly could take shorter in good cases, or it could take longer, depending on the specifics of what happens with your application. Okay. And that's why we love onwards and Upwards, because this is where you can come and hear it from the experts exactly what you need to know about coming to live and work in the United States. I have a question that was sent to me in the chat, on the private chat that says, can I apply for a Visa screen if I have not yet passed my IELTS or my English exam? The other exams that are going to come up now.

Yeah, so you can apply for it at that stage, but you won't be able to receive your Visa screen until you pass a qualified English exam. So, yeah, you can certainly apply and get that process rolling and get the other credentials sent to them. I actually wouldn't say that's a bad idea because English is actually, in general, a quicker credential for us to verify because we can get that directly digitally from the testing provider, whereas a lot of these other documents have to be sent. So the short answer is, yes, you can apply, but you won't be, of course, eligible for a Visa screen until you have finished your English language proficiency requirements.

That's great advice, everybody. You spoke about the long timelines and the backlogs. I see. We have a question from Mohammed, who is saying, why do CGFNS take that long? Any plans to make it shorter or a bit quicker? Yeah, great point. So this is what keeps me up at night. We want to make sure our goal is to kind of support the global healthcare community, and so we want to make the process as streamlined as possible. There have been a lot of challenges that have prevented us from doing that thus far, but I know we are undergoing a thorough kind of review of processes to see other places that we can streamline pieces of the process without imperial and patient safety, which is obviously our primary objective. So I think that will happen. I think it will be over time. Right now, the sheer numbers of applications make that an extra challenge, as that normalizes. That might be part of the solution. And also the movement towards digital credentials. Right.

If we're able in the future to get more documents through kind of digital means, as opposed to paper snail mail, that could also, I think, reduce the timelines. Yeah, absolutely. And just to share with everybody who's watching, I was just thinking of the last time that I went to the CGFNS. There's a tremendous amount of work that goes into the organization to try and make the experience as user friendly and as efficient as possible.

So there's a lot of work that Mukul and the team put in to be able to try and help you to expedite the process. I think there was one other question I wanted to check before we move on to the announcement. There was a question from Ashton, who's asking, is there any way to premium the Visa screen process? There is an expedite process once your documents are in that you can expedite the Visa screen review. The issue with that, though, is the biggest barrier is not our evaluation time, which is what you can expedite. It's getting all the documents. And that obviously can't be expedite because we have to actually wait for your schools and licensing authorities to mail. But there is an explanation if you are trying to get that very quickly. Perfect.

Okay, so let's move on to the big drumroll exciting announcement that everyone has been waiting for, for many, many years.

Because I'm just thinking of you and I meeting in San Diego, I don't even know how many years it was. It would be wonderful if we could get Pearson PTE and OET into the CGFNS  because from Connetics USA side, we've been doing this also for a very long time. So tell us about the announcement, what led up to that and what does this mean for international health care workers? Yeah, absolutely, Tanya.

So first I want to say there actually hasn't been a formal announcement yet. Okay. It'll be announced on our website August 1 and you'll see that there. But I definitely wanted I know some news got out and Tanya and I have been talking about this for years. She's the first one kind of learning me about these issues back in three and a half years ago now. And so I thought this would be the first place to kind of start to talk about this, the first official news publicly from CGFNS. I have hear your first absolutely. So we've talked about and what you just mentioned before, Tanya, but we want to make sure that we're offering as many opportunities as possible for health care professionals around the world to kind of meet our processes. And one of those, of course, for people coming from many countries in the world, in fact, most of them, is that you need an English language proficiency exam, or currently rather, the two exams that were approved were IELTS and TOEFL. And so we've been working with the US government, specifically the HRSA division of the Department of Health and Human Services on kind of updating the federal regulations to allow for additional English language test.

The idea here is obviously our primary goal is to ensure that people who need to have English language proficiency are able to speak and read English. But we want to provide as many opportunities and avenues to do that. And so that was the goal, was to have that happen. So, effective August 1, when you go on our website, you'll see that there are multiple options including Pearson, PTE and OET that you can take to satisfy that requirement.

Okay, perfect. So we got lots of questions. So here we go. Ottawa Son is saying kind of medical technologist also take the OET exam. Yeah, great question. So you'll see all this in August. Everything will be on there. The website then, but essentially a medical technologist will be able to take OT. So there's kind of three categories of testing providers. So one is what I would call like RNs or vocational nurses. There's one set of requirements for them, then there's another set of requirements for registered nurses and most of the allied professions, including medical technologists, speech language pathologist, et cetera. And then there's a third category for specifically physical therapist and occupational therapist. And so there are those three categories. Everybody, except that PTE OET category is eligible to take essentially an array of tests, which includes IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson, PTE OET, as well as the Cambridge English and the Michigan English Antoic.

Okay, so really exciting news because this gives international health care workers choice, it's not just nurses, it's international health care workers choice. You have to do the English Proficiency exam, which, as Mukul said, is a requirement, but it gives you choice on which test to go for. And I would really encourage everybody to also watch the show that we did last week, onwards and upwards. You can see it on our Facebook page, on our social media channels, on our website.

We have over 80,000 people that there's obviously a lot of interest in this and it's really an education process because last week what we did is we spoke about just an overview of what the tests entail from a curriculum perspective as well as from a logistical perspective. Like which countries you can write in and how you go about it and what it costs. Those kinds of things. So please make sure to check that out because there's a lot of information there for you.

And we'll be having future shows dealing with a lot of the questions that are going to come up now is which test is best for me? So for the purposes of this of today, a segment with local, we're not going to really go into which test is best for you because that really is an individual thing, but we're going to take some of the questions that we see in the chat.

So we have a question here for Maria. Maria said, I'm really confused on the CGFNS accepting some states and then there's some states that accept other tests. How do I make sense of that? So this is a real challenge and I understand why it's so complex and difficult. So there's a couple of issues here. So I want to clarify and just highlight that. Specifically, on August 1, George accepting these tests only for Visa screen purposes. So I do expect us to announce later this year acceptance for the state license purposes, which is the RCS program, but that will not be in effect yet.

So that if you do take one of these tests, you would need to take ISIS and TOEFL if you're going through CGFNS, or to work directly with the state that accepts other scores and then send the scores to them directly.

So that's the short answer. The bigger point is that this gets a really important question that you need to figure out early on when you're deciding what test to take, is that, of course, the federal government takes all these tests that will be listed on our website, but each state has its own requirements for English language. And so if you have an idea of where you want to practice.

You'll want to take a test that is accepted within that state. So currently, I know most states, of course, take IELTS and TOEFL, which are the traditional tests that have been accepted, and around 15 states take PTE few. Take OET already.

I think that number will go up quite a bit. But if you are kind of on the cusp right now of applying, you'll want to check, hey, I want to make sure I take a test that I can use both for my immigration purposes, but also to get a license to practice. Okay. And you said something really important there. And I think this is a good way for healthcare workers to think about this English proficiency test and the new announcement and the choices that now come about. You have to take a test for your immigration purposes. So that's kind of like the umbrella, as I would kind of explain it, and then there might be requirements from the specific state that you're going to be working for.

So kind of think of it in those two ways, the umbrella, which is the CGFNS, that's for your immigration purposes, and then there's a specific state that you're going to be working in and the requirements thereof. So we're going to be talking a lot more about that. I would encourage everybody, as I said, if you're just joining the show now, to watch the show that we did last week, because it gives you a very broad overview of the different tests and what is involved and what they offer.

I would also encourage everybody to go to the Connetics USA website and look at the blog that we have on there. You can use the scan for the code there, and it really just looks at the differences with the IELTS, the OET, and the Pte. There's also a lot of articles that we provided in the show last week to share some of the differences and share some of the states where the test can be taken.

Okay, so another question that we have for many healthcare workers that are asking if they have taken the Pearson PTE, for example, or the OET before the August 1 announcement Mukul can they be given credit for that when they sign for the Visa screen? Absolutely. Great question. And yes is the answer.

We will accept scores from within two years. So if you apply in August of 2022, when we accept those scores, any scores from July sorry, from two years before in August or September 2020 would be accepted going forward. So you have a two year window for any of the tests. Okay. So that's good news for many health care workers if you have already taken that exam.

Okay, I'm just looking at the chat. We've got some questions about NCLEX and about Indian nurses. So our team will go into the chat and answer any questions that we're not able to get to today. And I see that we have some specific questions, like Ocean is asking what is the required score for PTE? I don't know if you have that information right now, if we're waiting for the August 1 announcement for the scores. But I know we did also cover that in the show last week. Yeah, the great question. So the scores have been announced, and you can find them on the HRSA website, the federal government's website. They'll be on our website on August 1 when we accept them. But for Pearson, it would be a 55 overall with no section under 50.

I believe that is the score that would be applicable for that for the Pearson test. Okay, thank you. Maria has an interesting question. She's saying, I have applied for the Visa screen four months ago, and I didn't get the design score in IELTS, so I want to try OET for the Visa screen. Can she do that? Yes. So as long as her Visa screen application is valid, which would be if it was only a few months ago, as of August 1, we would accept an OET score to meet that standard, if that's what she has. I also want to mention there's adjustments, some of the score levels, too, that will be coming out. So even for the traditional tests, I know there will be adjusting those scores as well.

So you can take a look out for that, too. Okay. And that brings us to the end of the time that Mukul has with us. So we know how busy you are. We are so grateful to have you on the show. It's really an honor to have you on the show. We hope to have you back many times in the coming weeks before Vocal leaves. I just wanted to share with everybody, please don't forget to check out the blog, the Connetics blog, with some of the differences that we have with the IELTS, OET and the PTE.

And I also wanted to share with everybody that the Connetics College upcoming shows, we have the Connetics College every Monday where we have free classes for all international health care workers. So next week, we will have the on the 18th AspireRN doing an NCLEX class. On the 21st, we have an IELTS class on the spot writing task with Niners. And just to let everybody know that with being here and explaining how things are going to work from August 1, going forward, we're going to be having in the Connetics College on our weekly show that thousands of people are now watching, and we're going to be also having classes on the OET, on the Pearson PTE. So a lot more coming.

Thank you so much. It was great. Absolutely. So I would say thank you, Tanya. And I would say to all of you, I encourage you to work with firms that are certified by the alliance, including Connetics international nurse recruitment agency, to do this, as you can tell, a very difficult process in a lot of ways, and we were trying to make it easier. But in the meanwhile, having people who are really experienced that can help guide you to the process can be invaluable in determining your journey to the US. Thank you, Mukul. Thank you so much for coming on the show. And we look forward to having you on future shows going forward. Absolutely. Thank you, Tanya. Thank you.