FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

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BECOMING A NURSE IN THE UNITED STATES

1. How can CGFNS help me?

For foreign educated nurses, the first step to practicing as a nurse in the United States is to apply for a license with a state board of nursing.

To do this, all documents related to education and work experience need to be verified, authenticated and evaluated by a credentials evaluation organization. CGFNS has over 40 years of experience in the field and has helped thousands of health care professionals migrate around the world.

2. What is the NCLEX?

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a test to determine if you can begin your practice as an entry-level nurse in the United States.

3. Is the NCLEX the only step to working as a nurse in the United States?

No. Each state board has its own requirements to determine educational comparability of those educated outside of the United States. Before taking the NCLEX, other requirements are necessary for foreign educated nurses.

4. How do I learn about the necessary requirements for different states?

CGFNS provides all services necessary for foreign educated nurses to take all the steps to legally work as a nurse in the United States. Visit the link to: see the requirements in different states:

5. What are the services provided by CGFNS?

CGFNS offers a variety of services for foreign educated health care workers who want to migrate to another country. We authenticate and verify documents from schools, licensing authorities and employers. We evaluate education, work experience and clinical hours and compare it to standards in the United States. We work with international students who want to study at a university in the United States.

Certification Program (CP), Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Professional Report, Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Academic Report , VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment (VS), and Credential Verification Service for New York State (CVS).

6. What is the Certificate Program (CP)?

The Certification Program CP includes:

  • The CGFNS Qualifying Exam® for first-level, general nurses
  • A credentials evaluation of secondary and nursing education and registration.
  • Demonstration of passing one of the accepted English language proficiency exams.
7. What is the next step after the completion of the Certificate Program (CP)?

When successfully completed, applicants receive the CGFNS Certification Program Certificate. They can request CGFNS to send an official verification to the state board of their choice. The document will serve official requirement to take the NCLEX® exam. The CGFNS Certification Program Certificate is valid for life.

8. What is the Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Professional Report?

It is a Report that meets the specific requirements of individual state boards of nursing.

9. What is the Report’s content?
  • It provides a detailed analysis of the credentials earned at multiple levels of nursing education received outside the United States according to requirements specific to a state.
  • It includes a statement of comparability of an applicant’s education when measured against U.S. standards.
10. What is the Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Academic Report?
  • It is designed to meet the needs of applicants pursuing further education in U.S. institutions of higher learning.
  • It provides a detailed analysis of the nursing education received outside the United States. The Report is advisory in nature and does not make specific placement recommendations.
11. What is the Visa Credentials Assessment?
  • It is a comprehensive screening program for health care professionals who are not U.S. citizens and are seeking an occupational visa to work in the United States.
  • The VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Service requires specific health care professionals to complete a screening program before they can receive either a permanent or temporary occupational visa, including Trade NAFTA status
  • An assessment of an applicant’s education to ensure that it is comparable to that of a U.S. graduate in the same profession
  • A verification that all professional health care licenses that an applicant ever held are valid and without restrictions
  • An English language proficiency examination
  • For registered nurses only, a verification that the nurse has passed either the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®, NCLEX-RN® or for select years and Providences its predecessor, the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE).
12. What is the next step after acquiring the Visa Credentials Service?

Applicants who successfully complete VisaScreen® receive an official ICHP Certificate for the VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Service, which satisfies the United States Federal screening requirements. ICHP (International Commission on Healthcare Professions) is a division of CGFNS International.

13. What is the Credential Verification Service for New York State (CVS)?

The Credential Verification Service for New York State (CVS) verifies the authenticity of international education and licensure credentials for the State of New York. The Service is for those health care professionals educated outside the United States who wish to practice in New York. As specified by the state, CGFNS International completes a verification of foreign education and credentials. New York State Education Department then completes the actual evaluation of the verified credentials.

Choosing the Correct CGFNS International Service for Nurses

For nurses educated outside of the United States, the first step to practicing as a nurse in the United States is to apply for a license with a state board of nursing. All state boards require the NCLEX® examination. Each state will have specific requirements to determine comparability of those educated outside of the United States. Each state board may require certain services to determine if you will be able to practice in the United States. All required services can be provided by CGFNS International prior to authorizing nurses educated outside of the United States to take the NCLEX® exam.

List of the: CGFNS services accepted by each state board.

We also recommend that you consult with the individual board web sites for the full details of what is required to apply for licensure.

Here is a brief description of each service:

1. Certification Program (CP) The Certification Program:

The Certification Program (CP) includes:

  • CGFNS Qualifying Exam® for first-level, general nurses;
  • A credentials evaluation of secondary and nursing education and registration;
  • Demonstration of passing one of the accepted English language proficiency exams.

When successfully completed, applicants receive the CGFNS Certification Program Certificate, and an official verification can be sent to the respective state board requiring this assessment as a prerequisite for authorization to take the NCLEX® exam. The CGFNS Certification Program Certificate is valid for life.

2. Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Professional Report:

Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Professional Report meets the specific requirements of individual state boards of nursing. The CES Professional Report provides:

  • A detailed analysis of the credentials earned at multiple levels of nursing education received outside the United States according to requirements specific to a state.
  • A statement of comparability of an applicant’s education when measured against U.S. standards.
3. Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Academic Report:

Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Academic Report is designed to meet the needs of applicants pursuing further education in U.S. institutions of higher learning. The CES Academic Report provides:

  • A detailed analysis of the nursing education received outside the United States.

The Report is advisory in nature and does not make specific placement recommendations.

4. VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment (VS):

VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment (VS) certification is a comprehensive screening program for health care professionals who are not U.S. citizens and are seeking an occupational visa to work in the United States. The VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Service requires specific health care professionals complete a screening program before they can receive either a permanent or temporary occupational visa, including Trade NAFTA status. The VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Service provides:

  • An assessment of an applicant’s education to ensure that it is comparable to that of a U.S. graduate in the same profession
  • A verification that all professional health care licenses that an applicant ever held are valid and without restrictions
  • An English language proficiency examination
  • For registered nurses only, a verification that the nurse has passed either the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®, NCLEX-RN® or for select years, its predecessor, the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE).

Applicants who successfully complete VisaScreen® receive an official ICHP Certificate for the VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Service, which satisfies the United States Federal screening requirements. ICHP (International Commission on Healthcare Professions) is a division of CGFNS International.

5. Credential Verification Service for New York State (CVS):

Credential Verification Service for New York State (CVS) verifies the authenticity of international education and licensure credentials for the State of New York. The Service is for those health care professionals educated outside the United States who wish to practice in New York. As specified by the state, CGFNS International completes a verification of foreign education and credentials. New York State Education Department then completes the actual evaluation of the verified credentials. Credential Verification Service for New York State (CVS) provides:

  • A verification of foreign education and credentials by CGFNS.
  • An evaluation of the verified credentials by the New York State Education Department.

CGFNS Standards and Policies

1. Document Retention Policy

While CGFNS maintains a permanent record of all applicants’ names and service histories, it is not a permanent repository of applicant documents. CGFNS’s document retention policy is as follows:

  • Documents submitted by an applicant to obtain a CGFNS service will be deleted four years from the date of the applicant’s last submitted order.
  • Documents submitted by an applicant in support of obtaining the CGFNS VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Service will be deleted five years from the date of the applicant’s last submitted order.

If you would like CGFNS to store your documents beyond the retention period described above, you may purchase additional years of storage by ordering our eSAVED™ service. eSAVED™ stands for extended Storage of Authenticated and Verified Electronic Documents.

1. What is CGFNS’s document retention policy for applicant documents?

CGFNS securely stores all authenticated and verified documents for a period of four years. In the case of documents submitted for the VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Service, we store applicant documents for five years to accommodate the renewal period.

2. What is eSAVED™?

eSAVED™ is a way for applicants to electronically and securely store all of their authenticated and verified documents for an additional four-year period.

3. What are the benefits of purchasing the eSAVED™ service?

CGFNS created eSAVED™ to help applicants organize and secure their documents for longer. eSAVED™ extends the storage life of applicant transcripts, licenses, and more at an affordable price.

2. Third Party Authorization for Release of Applicant Information

It is CGFNS’s policy to not disclose any information to a third party regarding an applicant’s order status or the information contained in an applicant’s files. This policy is to ensure that an applicant’s privacy is maintained throughout the application process. 

If you, the applicant, want a third party to contact CGFNS on your behalf such as a relative, a lawyer, an employer, or a recruiter, we require signed, written authorization from you.  Please use the Authorization to Release Information Form which can be downloaded from the CGFNS website.  This form must be submitted to CGFNS by mail or courier. It cannot be faxed or emailed to CGFNS.

When you submit an Authorization to Release Information Form, the person listed on the form will automatically become your authorized agent. The contact information you provide on the Authorization to Release Information Form will become the primary contact information used to send notifications and correspondence to you, the applicant. Revocation of this authorization must be submitted in writing to CGFNS.

1. What is CGFNS’s information privacy policy?

As part of CGFNS’s information policy, CGFNS will not disclose any information to any third party regarding an applicant’s order status or the information contained in an applicant’s files.

2. What if I want a third party to contact CGFNS on my behalf?

If you want a third party to contact CGFNS on your behalf, you must fill out an Authorization to Release Information Form and send it to CGFNS by mail or courier. The Authorization to Release Information Form cannot be faxed or emailed to CGFNS.

3. After I send the Authorization to Release Information Form, how do I proceed to correspond with CGFNS?

Once you submit an Authorization to Release Information Form, the third party listed on the form automatically becomes your authorized agent to receive and send all future correspondence on your behalf.

3. Refugee Information

CGFNS works to ensure that all foreign-educated professionals are recruited in a fair, ethical, and transparent manner for employment in the United States regardless of their ethnicity, race, or nationality.

If you are a refugee or seeking refugee status in the United States, you need to self-identify your refugee status by contacting our Customer Care Service before applying for any CGFNS services.

Costumer Care Service: + 1 (215) 222 8454

Credentials Evaluation Service

Applying to the Credentials Evaluation Service

The application for the Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Professional and Academic Report is online. To apply for CES Professional and/or Academic Report, you will need to create a CGFNS Connect account, log in and place an order. The type of order you need will be automatically detected when you attempt to place a CES order. For instance:

  • If you have never placed a CES order for the Professional and/or Academic Report, you will be prompted to place an initial service order at full cost.
  • If your previous CES order has expired within the last year due to inactivity, you will be prompted to place a reprocess order.
  • If you have already had a Professional or Academic Report completed, you will be prompted to place a re-evaluation order.

Be sure to download the Credentials Evaluation Service Instructions for a complete guide to how the service works.

1. What if I have never placed an order for the CES?

If you have never placed an order for the CES with CGFNS, once you login to your CGFNS Connect account and go to order the credentials evaluation service, our website will prompt you to place an initial service order at full cost.

2. What if I previously placed an order for the CES, but the order expired within the last year due to inactivity?

If you previously placed an order for the CES, but the order expired within the last year due to inactivity, our website will prompt you to place a reprocess order.

3. What if I already had a credentials evaluation done with CGFNS and received a CES Professional and Academic Report?

If you previously had a credentials evaluation done with CGFNS and received a CES Professional and Academic Report based on that evaluation, our website will prompt you to place a reevaluation order.

Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Re-evaluation

If you previously ordered a credential evaluation service (CES) for the purpose of obtaining a Professional and/or Academic Report, and if you need another report to be sent to either a new recipient or a previous recipient, you can order a CES Re-evaluation at a reduced fee.

You can order a CES Re-evaluation by following these simple steps:

  • Login to your CGFNS Connect account and choose the option to purchase a CGFNS service.
  • At the service selection menu, choose “Credentials Evaluation Service (CES).”
  • Select the type of report you require (Professional and/or Academic) and type in the name of the designated report recipient where prompted to do so.
  • If you previously ordered a report of the SAME type, you will be automatically prompted to order a re-evaluation.

Please note that for CES Re-evaluation, the credentials assessment is geared towards the requirements of the specific named report recipient. Also, any new information that has been submitted since your last evaluation will be included in the re-evaluation process.

1. During the re-evaluation process, will I need to update any of the documents I previously submitted for my initial CES order?

Depending on the documents under consideration, you may need to provide updated documentation. For example, for reports that require verification of your licensure, updated validation may be required for the re-evaluation process if the licensure information on file is more than three years old. In some cases, licensure information that is more than a year old may need to be updated.

2. I had a previous CES order that I placed before January 2011 that resulted in a Healthcare and Science Report or a Full Course-by-Course Report. Can I order a CES Re-evaluation under these circumstances?

No. A CES Re-evaluation can only be ordered if your previous CES order included a request for a Professional Report of Academic Report. If you previously ordered a Healthcare and Science Report or a Full Course-by-Course Report, a new order for a CES Professional Report or Academic Report must be ordered. In this instance, the procedures relating to the standard credentials evaluation service, including associated fees, apply.

3. I previously ordered a CES which resulted in the issuance of an Academic Report. Can I order a CES Re-evaluation for the issuance of a Professional Report at this time?

No. If a previous order was for one report type, only this report type can be reissued with a CES Re-evaluation. In your case, since your previous order was for a CES resulting in the issuance of an Academic Report, you can order a re-evaluation of the Academic Report only.

English Language Proficiency Report for the Credentials Evaluation Service (CES)

There are currently eight states in the US that require that an English Language Proficiency Report be attached to the Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Report:

  • Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The English Language Proficiency Report costs $85 USD. This fee is in addition to the fee charged for the credentials evaluation service (CES).

If you apply for the credentials evaluation service (CES) for a state that requires the English Language Proficiency Report (Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia, and Wisconsin) AND you are not eligible for exemption from taking an English language proficiency examination, you are required to submit scores from an acceptable English language proficiency exam before your CES report will be issued by CGFNS to a specific state board of nursing.

1. I ordered a CES for a state that requires an English Language Proficiency Report. How can I determine if I am exempt from taking an English language proficiency examination?

To be exempt from having to take an English language proficiency examination, you must meet the following two criteria:

Your entry-level professional education must have occurred in the United Kingdom, Australia, Barbados, Canada (excluding Quebec), Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, or the United States
English must have been the language of instruction, including the language of the textbooks.

2. If I meet these two criteria, do I need to take an English language proficiency examination.

No. You do not need to take an English language proficiency examination if you meet these two criteria.

3. If I am exempt from taking an English language proficiency exam, can I pay a reduced fee for the English Language Proficiency Report?

No. Even if you are exempt from taking an English language proficiency exam, the English Language Proficiency Report still costs $85 USD. There is no fee reduction.

4. If I am not eligible for exemption and am required to take an English language proficiency examination, what are acceptable English language proficiency examinations for the purpose of the English Language Proficiency Report?

Either the TOEFL iBT or the IELTS examination can be used to support the English Language Proficiency Report. Exam scores must be less than two years old and must be submitted directly to CGFNS by the testing agency.

5. I am applying for a credentials evaluation service (CES) for use in one of the eight states that requires an English Language Proficiency Report. I am exempt from taking an English language proficiency examination. Do I still need to submit an English Language Proficiency Report?

Yes. If you apply for the credentials evaluation service (CES) for one of the eight states listed herein that requires the English Language Proficiency Report AND you are exempt from taking an English language proficiency examination, you are still required to attach an English Language Proficiency Report to the Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Report.

6. I am applying for a credentials evaluation service (CES) for a state that is not listed above. Do I still need to show English language proficiency?

Maybe. States that do not require the English Language Proficiency Report still set their own requirements regarding English language proficiency. If you are planning on applying for licensure with a state board not listed above, we recommend you consult with the individual state board to determine what proof of English language proficiency is required.

Expedited Review Service for the Credential Evaluation Service (CES)

Purpose: Because of the high volume of CES orders, it can take weeks for an assessment review after all required documents are received and processed. The length of time it takes CGFNS to generate your report is influenced by the complexity of your file and your country of education. We offer an Expedited Review Service for the CES Professional and Academic reports. A review will take place as soon as possible once all required documents have been received.

Note: The expedited review service does not guarantee that your CES Professional or Academic report will be issued. Additional information may be required upon review of your file. In this instance, your report will be delayed until the requested documentation has been submitted and your documentation is in full compliance with report recipient’s requirements.

How to order: You can ONLY opt for the Expedited Review Service to an existing order that is open, active and all required documents have been received using the following steps:

  1. Log into your CGFNS Connect account
  2. Choose the option to purchase CGFNS Services
  3. At the service selection screen, choose Additional CGFNS Services
  4. At the Additional CGFNS Services menu, choose the Expedited Review Service for an existing CES order

Note: The cost for the expedited review service varies depending on what type of CES report you are ordering. The fees are as follow:

  • Expedited review of a Professional Report order added to an existing order – $250
  • Expedited review of an Academic Report order added to an existing order – $275
CES Reprocess an expired order

Purpose: If your CES order is not completed within a year’s time due to inactivity, it will expire. You can reprocess your expired order, which will allow you another year to submit the necessary documentation to obtain a CES Professional and/or Academic Report.

Eligibility: You cannot apply for a reprocess of your expired order until the order status becomes expired. You have one year from the expiration date of the order to purchase the reprocess service. An order can only be reprocessed one time. If your order expires a second time, a new order must be placed at full cost to continue with the service.

How to order: Once your CES order status becomes expired, you can reprocess it by following these instructions:

  1. Log into your CGFNS Connect account
  2. Choose the option to purchase CGFNS Services
  3. At the service selection screen, choose Credentials Evaluation Service (CES)
  4. At the recipient selection screen, choose the same type of report and recipient as your expired order
  5. If it is within a year of your order’s expiration date, you will be automatically prompted to order the reprocess service
CES: Professional vs. Academic Report

CGFNS currently offers two types of CES reports. We suggest you contact the state board of nursing, employer, or college/university receiving your CES report and ask which type of report that they require.

  • Professional Report: This report meets the specific requirements of individual state boards of nursing. It includes a statement of comparability of an applicant’s education when measured against U.S. standards.
  • Academic Report: This report is designed to meet the needs of applicants pursuing further education in U.S. institutions of higher learning.

Technical support

Making a Payment

CGFNS only accepts credit cards as a payment method.

For each of our services, you can complete an application and make a payment online using your credit card. CGFNS International accepts:

  • Visa
  • Master Card
  • Discover
Submitting a passport photo

For three of our services, the Certification Program, VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment, and the International Standards for Professional Nurses (ISPN) Program, a passport photograph is required.

There are two ways to submit a photograph:

Instructions for uploading a photograph:

  • You should see a photo box containing the words “Applicant Photo Not Available” at the screen when you first log in.
  • Click on the link “Upload your passport-sized photo online” next to the photo box.
  • You will see a list of criteria the photo must meet to be accepted.
  • Beneath the list is a button to browse your computer for a .jpg or .jpeg image file.

Please note: Crop your photo around the head and shoulders in portrait shape to avoid distortion when uploaded.

  • After you have selected an image file and uploaded it, you will see how the photo will appear. You can then save it or upload a different one.
  • Once you save your photo, you will not be able to upload a new one unless you contact CGFNS and request that your previous photo be deleted.
  • If you are placing an order to renew your VisaScreen®certificate and need to upload a new photograph, you will be able to do so after you have placed your order.
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