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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

11 Practice Pointers On Filing Nurse Petitions In Manila

by Sylvia Boecker

The following Q&A is between Sylvia Boecker and the Manila Consular Office.

1. What are some practice pointers for attorneys who have nurse cases that will be scheduled for interview in Manila? All suggestions to make your work easier and to help the clients succeed with their immigrant visa applications will be very welcome.

SUBMIT ALL THE REQUESTED DOCUMENTS TO NVC ON TIME, INCLUDING VISASCREEN CERTIFICATE AND ENSURE THAT APPLICANTS HAVE OTHER DOCUMENTS THAT FACILITATE ADJUDICATION AT TIME OF INTERVIEW, SUCH AS, IF ACCOMPANIED BY DERIVATIVE APPLICANTS, SECONDARY DOCUMENTATION TO ESTABLISH RELATIONSHIP IF BIRTH OF CHILDREN ARE LATE REGISTERED, MARRIAGE IS RECENT, ETC.

2. Nurses and their families go to the interview prepared to prove they are nurses. Then they are asked to prove the marriage and their relationship to husband and children. There is nothing on the list of required documents that asks employment based immigrants to bring additional proof other than marriage and birth certificates. "#8. Evidence of the relationship between you and the petitioner" relates to family petitions. Should each nurse bring the proofs of marriage listed in #8 on the List of required documents?

LIKE WITH ANY OTHER VISA CATEGORY, THE BASIC DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR AN APPLICATION ARE PART OF, RATHER THAN ENTIRETY OF, WHAT CONSULAR OFFICERS USE TO ESTABLISH OR VERIFY RELATIONSHIPS. ADJUDICATING A VISA APPLICATION IS NOT A DOCUMENT SCANNING PROCESS AND INCLUDES AN INTERVIEW WITH LINES OF INQUIRY THAT MAY RESULT IN OUR REQUESTING SECONDARY EVIDENCE. UNFORTUNATELY THE PHILIPPINES HAS A HIGH RATE OF FRAUD, THIS OFTEN REQUIRES CONSULAR OFFICERS TO ASK FOR MORE SECONDARY EVIDENCE.

3. Need the nurse pay a second immigrant visa fee of $335.00 if, for instance, the first petitioner cannot give an employment letter and a second petition (for another employer) needs to be filed? Or will the Embassy honor the first $335.00 for the second interview? Does the nurse pay twice if she has two interviews?

A NEW PETITIONER GENERALLY ENTAILS A NEW VISA APPLICATION AND ANOTHER 335.00 VISA APPLICATION FEE.

4. If the Embassy says that only $260 of the $335 fee has been paid or if the Embassy has no record of the immigrant visa fee having been paid, the only option for the nurse at the interview seems to be to pay either the balance or the full amount in order to get the visa. Can she then ask for reimbursement from the National Visa Center or the Embassy when she receives her immigrant visa or when she immigrates?

AS LONG AS THE APPLICANT HAS EVIDENCE OF PAYMENT, SHE CAN REQUEST REIMBURSEMENT FROM NVC. THE APPLICANT, PETITIONER OR AGENT SHOULD RETAIN ALL RECEIPTS OF PAYMENT TO SHOW POSSIBLE DOUBLE PAYMENT.

5. If the nurse has been interviewed and the only item lacking is the VisaScreen certificate, for how long will the file be kept open so she can submit the VisaScreen certificate? Many have been trying for several years to pass the English exams and get the VisaScreen certificate and their cases are still pending at the Embassy. Should a yearly update be given to the Embassy to let the Embassy know that the nurse is still trying to get the VisaScreen certificate?

OUR REGULATIONS PRESCRIBE THAT APPLICATIONS REFUSED BECAUSE OF PENDING DOCUMENTATION SHOULD BE TERMINATED AFTER ONE YEAR OF REFUSAL. WE HAVE BEEN AT TIMES LIBERAL IN OUR APPLICATION OF REGULATIONS IN THIS REGARD BUT RESOURCE CONSTRAINTS WOULD NOT ALLOW US TO KEEP A FILE OF A CASE THAT SHOULD BE TERMINATED LONGER THAN THE PRESCRIBED PERIOD.

If the nurse was interviewed in November, 2004 and gives her VisaScreen certificate to the Embassy in January, 2005, will she be issued a visa? Her priority date is March, 2003.

NO SHE WILL NOT BE ISSUED A VISA DUE TO THE RETROGRESSION.

6. There does not seem to be uniformity or consistency with the notices of interview date for the nurses. Some interview dates are sent ahead of time with copies to the attorney. Attorneys sometimes receive notices of the interviews long after they have taken place. That is fine if the client has notice, informs the attorney, and proceeds with the medical and the interview. Recently neither the attorney nor the client received notice of the interview until five days after the interview date. Because of the 1/1/05 cut off date, she cannot be rescheduled. Is there a procedure that is followed to give timely notice of the interview date to the nurse and her attorney?

SINCE DECEMBER 2004, VISA APPLICATION APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING IS DONE BY THE NATIONAL VISA CENTER. WE WILL HAVE TO REFER YOUR INQUIRY AND CONCERNS TO NVC. YOU MAY ALSO CONTACT NVC DIRECTLY REGARDING APPOINTMENT QUESTIONS AT 1-603-334-0700.

7. Many nurses believe they need both an NBI clearance and local police clearances for places they have lived in the Philippines. Does an NBI clearance cover all residence within the Philippines? Is a local police clearance needed as well?

ONLY AN NBI CLEARANCE IS REQUIRED TO FULFILL APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS. IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT THAT A CONSULAR OFFICER FINDS IT NECESSARY TO REVIEW A LOCAL POLICE RECORD, THE APPLICANT MAY BE ASKED TO PROVIDE THE RECORD.

8. Nurses in the Philippines hear that they can get visas to the U.S.A. without the VisaScreen certificate, the CGFNS exam or a state license. For the sum of $7000 to $10,000 U.S. dollars, they apply for and receive H-1B visas, which allow them to enter the USA for three years. With the retrogression of immigrant visas, this method of entering the USA will be even more popular. Generally, an R.N. does not qualify for an H-1B visa because Professional Nurse is not a specialty occupation.

How closely does the consular officer look at the H-1Bs being issued to applicants who have BSN degrees when the job requires a BSN degree but the job is not for a Professional or Registered Nurse? I regularly see nurses who entered on H-1B visas, began working as a nurse immediately and never worked as a "Patient Educator", Rehabilitation Specialist", or other of the 17 job descriptions I have seen which qualified the nurse for an H-1B visa. I do not do these visas because I think they are fraudulent but there are so many issued that it makes me wonder.

THE NIV CHIEF OFFERED THAT, WE DO NOT ISSUE H1B VISAS TO NURSES UNLESS THEY HAVE A VISASCREEN CERTIFICATE, AND APPROPRIATE STATE LICENSING. WE RETURN PETITIONS TO DHS WHEN WE FIND THAT NURSES ARE ATTEMPTING TO OBTAIN H1BS CALLING THEMSELVES "RESEARCH ASSISTANTS", "HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATORS, " AND THE OTHER SPECIALIZED AND CREATIVE JOB DESCRIPTIONS SEEN ON PETITIONS WHEN IN FACT THEY ARE GENERALIST REGISTERED NURSES.

9. What do the following mean? The nurse is advised that her daughter's papers are "still for verification." The nurse is informed, after the interview, that her case is sent for "administrative review." What is the purpose? How long do these procedures take? How does it affect the nurse who was interviewed before Dec. 31, 2004 but still has no visa?

THE TERM "ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW" IS USED BY SOME CONSULAR EMPLOYEES WHEN A CASE HAS BEEN DEFERED OR REFERRED FOR REVIEW BECAUSE OF SOME UNRESOLVED ISSUE RELEVANT TO ELIGIBILITY OR QUALIFICATION OF THE APPLICANT. WE REALLY RATHER JUST SAY SIMPLY "REVIEW." WE ARE USUALLY UNABLE TO PREDICT HOW LONG A REVIEW MAY TAKE BECAUSE IT MAY INVOLVE VERIFICATION OF DOCUMENTATION OR MATERIAL FACTS, CLEARANCES FROM OTHER U.S. GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, CONSULTATIONS WITH OTHER AGENCIES OR A SUPERVISORY DETERMINATION.

REVIEWS ARE REQUIRED ONLY WHEN THERE IS A SUFFICIENTLY SERIOUS QUESTION OR ISSUE PENDING RESOLUTION IN A CASE. WE COULD NOT APPROPRIATELY SUSPEND A REVIEW TO ENABLE AN APPLICANT WHO MAY NOT BE QUALIFIED OR ELIGIBLE FOR A VISA TO BE ISSUED A VISA BEFORE RETROGRESSION. WE DO, NEVERTHELESS, MAKE EVERY EFFORT TOWARD TIMELY COMPLETION OF REVIEWS OF CASES AFFECTED BY RETROGRESSION, AGING-OUT, ETC.

10. The spouse of a nurse disclosed that he tried marijuana once more than ten years ago. His visa was refused and the consul recommended psychiatric review but after five months, there is still no word on his visa review. What can be done and what is possible in such cases?

THE APPLICANT SHOULD CONTACT US AND INQUIRE ABOUT CASE. THE INQUIRY SHOULD BE IN WRITING. AT TIMES THERE MIGHT BE SOME MISUNDERSTANDING ABOUT WHAT TRANSPIRED WITH AN APPLICATION. THE REFUSAL LETTER PROVIDED TO EVERY APPLICANT WHO IS NOT ISSUED A VISA SHOULD BE THE RECORD OF CASE STATUS AND THE APPLICANT SHOULD REFER TO THE REFUSAL LETTER OR OTHER WRITTEN COMMUNICATION FROM THE EMBASSY WHEN INQUIRING ABOUT A CASE.

11. Is the Embassy issuing R-1 visas for professional nurses who are Catholic and will be working in a Catholic hospital?

NO. THE VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR A CATHOLIC NURSE WORKING IN A CATHOLIC HOSPITAL WOULD BE THE SAME AS THOSE FOR A NON-DENOMINATIONAL NURSE WORKING IN A NON-DENOMINATIONAL HOSPITAL, OR A PROTESTANT NURSE WORKING IN A CATHOLIC HOSPITAL. THERE ARE SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FOR RELIGIOUS WORKERS TO OBTAIN AN R-1 VISA AND AN R-1 VISA CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR UNAVAILABLE BUT APPROPRIATE E3 OR H1B VISAS.


About The Author

Sylvia Boecker is an attorney in private practice in Virginia, has served as Chair of AILA's Greater Chicago Chapter and as President of the Chicago Bar Association Committee on Immigration Law. She is the author of many articles on immigration issues for nurses. She has degrees in Latin American Studies from the University of Denver and in Spanish from Oberlin College, and a J.D. from DePaul University. Ms. Boecker served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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