\ fr \ Federal Register Publications (CIS, ICE, CBP) \ Federal Register Publications (CIS, ICE, CBP) - 2003 \ FEDERAL REGISTER FINAL REGULATIONS - 2003 \ Certificates for Certain Health Care Workers [68 FR 43901] [FR 32-03] \ (v) Provide a point of contact;
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(v) Provide a point of contact;
(vi) Describe the verification procedure the organization has designed in order for the DHS to verify the validity of a certificate; and
(vii) Describe how the organization will process and issue in a timely manner the certificates.
Applications filed by CGFNS
. (i) CGFNS shall submit Form I-905 to the Director, Nebraska Service Center, to ensure that it will be in compliance with the regulations governing the issuance and content of certificates to nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and audiologists, medical technologists (also known as clinical laboratory scientists), medical technicians (also known as clinical laboratory technicians), and physician assistants under section 212(a)(5)(C) of the Act, or issuing cert
ified statements to nurses under section 212(r) of the Act.
(ii) Prior to issuing certificates for any other health care occupations, CGFNS shall submit Form I-905, Application for Authorization to Issue Certification for Health Care Workers, to the Director, Nebraska Service Center with the appropriate fee contained in 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1) for authorization to issue such certificates. The DHS will evaluate CGFNS' expertise with respect to the particular health care occupation for which authorization to issue certificates is sought, in light of CGFNS' statutory designa
tion as a credentialing organization.
Procedure for review of applications by credentialing organizations
. (i) After receipt of Form I-905, the Director, Nebraska Service Center shall, in all cases, forward a copy of the application and supporting documents to the Secretary of HHS in order to obtain an opinion on the merits of the application. The DHS will not render a decision on the request until the Secretary of HHS provides an opinion. The DHS shall accord the Secretary of HHS' opinion great weight in reaching its decision. The DHS may deny the organization's request notwithstanding the favorable recommend
ation from the Secretary of HHS, on grounds unrelated to the credentialing of health care occupations or health care services.
(ii) The DHS will notify the organization of the decision on its application in writing and, if the request is denied, of the reasons for the denial. Approval of authorization to issue certificates to foreign health care workers or certified statements to nurses will be made in 5-year increments, subject to the review process described at paragraph (l) of this section.
(iii) If the application is denied, the decision may be appealed pursuant to 8 CFR 103.3 to the Associate Commissioner for Examinations.
Standards for credentialing organizations
. The DHS will evaluate organizations, including CGFNS, seeking to obtain approval from the DHS to issue certificates for health care workers, or certified statements for nurses. Any organization meeting the standards set forth in paragraph (k)(1) of this section can be eligible for authorization to issue certificates. While CGFNS has been specifically listed in the statute as an entity authorized to issue certificates, it is not exempt from governmental oversight. All organizations will be reviewed, includ
ing CGFNS, to guarantee that they continue to meet the standards required of all certifying organizations, under the following:
Structure of the organization
. (i) The organization shall be incorporated as a legal entity.
(ii)(A) The organization shall be independent of any organization that functions as a representative of the occupation or profession in question or serves as or is related to a recruitment/placement organization.
(B) The DHS shall not approve an organization that is unable to render impartial advice regarding an individual's qualifications regarding training, experience, and licensure.
(C) The organization must also be independent in all decision making matters pertaining to evaluations and/or examinations that it develops including, but not limited to: policies and procedures; eligibility requirements and application processing; standards for granting certificates and their renewal; examination content, development, and administration; examination cut-off scores, excluding those pertaining to English language requirements; grievance and disciplinary processes; governing body and committe
e meeting rules; publications about qualifying for a certificate and its renewal; setting fees for application and all other services provided as part of the screening process; funding, spending, and budget authority related to the operation of the certification organization; ability to enter into contracts and grant arrangements; ability to demonstrate adequate staffing and management resources to conduct the program(s) including the authority to approve selection of, evaluate, and initiate dismissal of th
e chief staff member.
(D) An organization whose fees are based on whether an applicant receives a visa may not be approved.
(iii) The organization shall include the following representation in the portion of its organization responsible for overseeing certification and, where applicable, examinations:
(A) Individuals from the same health care discipline as the alien health care worker being evaluated who are eligible to practice in the United States; and
(B) At least one voting public member to represent the interests of consumers and protect the interests of the public at large. The public member shall not be a member of the discipline or derive significant income from the discipline, its related organizations, or the organization issuing the certificate.
(iv) The organization must have a balanced representation such that the individuals from the same health care discipline, the voting public members, and any other appointed individuals have an equal say in matters relating to credentialing and/or examinations.
(v) The organization must select representatives of the discipline using one of the following recommended methods, or demonstrate that it has a selection process that meets the intent of these methods:
(A) Be selected directly by members of the discipline eligible to practice in the United States;
(B) Be selected by members of a membership organization representing the discipline or by duly elected representatives of a membership organization; or
(C) Be selected by a membership organization representing the discipline from a list of acceptable candidates supplied by the credentialing body.
(vi) The organization shall use formal procedures for the selection of members of the governing body that prohibit the governing body from selecting a majority of its successors. Not-for-profit corporations which have difficulty meeting this requirement may provide in their applications evidence that the organization is independent, and free of material conflicts of interest regarding whether an alien receives a visa.
(vii) The organization shall be separate from the accreditation and educational functions of the discipline, except for those entities recognized by the Department of Education as having satisfied the requirement of independence.
(viii) The organization shall publish and make available a document which clearly defines the responsibilities of the organization and outlines any other activities, arrangements, or agreements of the organization that are not directly related to the certification of health care workers.
Resources of the organization
. (i) The organization shall demonstrate that its staff possess the knowledge and skills necessary to accurately assess the education, work experience, licensure of health care workers, and the equivalence of foreign educational institutions, comparable to those of United States-trained health care workers and institutions.
(ii) The organization shall demonstrate the availability of financial and material resources to effectively and thoroughly conduct regular and ongoing evaluations on an international basis.
(iii) If the health care field is one for which a majority of the states require a predictor test, the organization shall demonstrate the ability to conduct examinations in those countries with educational and evaluation systems comparable to the majority of states.
(iv) The organization shall have the resources to publish and make available general descriptive materials on the procedures used to evaluate and validate credentials, including eligibility requirements, determination procedures, examination schedules, locations, fees, reporting of results, and disciplinary and grievance procedures.
Candidate evaluation and testing mechanisms
. (i) The organization shall publish and make available a comprehensive outline of the information, knowledge, or functions covered by the evaluation/examination process, including information regarding testing for English language competency.
(ii) The organization shall use reliable evaluation/examination mechanisms to evaluate individual credentials and competence that is objective, fair to all candidates, job related, and based on knowledge and skills needed in the discipline.
(iii) The organization shall conduct ongoing studies to substantiate the reliability and validity of the evaluation/examination mechanisms.
(iv) The organization shall implement a formal policy of periodic review of the evaluation/examination mechanism to ensure ongoing relevance of the mechanism with respect to knowledge and skills needed in the discipline.
(v) The organization shall use policies and procedures to ensure that all aspects of the evaluation/examination procedures, as well as the development and administration of any tests, are secure.
(vi) The organization shall institute procedures to protect against falsification of documents and misrepresentation, including a policy to request each applicant's transcript(s) and degree(s) directly from the educational licensing authorities.
(vii) The organization shall establish policies and procedures that govern the length of time the applicant's records must be kept in their original format.
(viii) The organization shall publish and make available, at least annually, a summary of all screening activities for each discipline including, at least, the number of applications received, the number of applicants evaluated, the number receiving certificates, the number who failed, and the number receiving renewals.
Responsibilities to applicants applying for an initial certificate or renewal
. (i) The organization shall not discriminate among applicants as to age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, or marital status and shall include a statement of nondiscrimination in announcements of the evaluation/examination procedures and renewal certification process.
(ii) The organization shall provide all applicants with copies of formalized application procedures for evaluation/examination and shall uniformly follow and enforce such procedures for all applicants. Instructions shall include standards regarding English language requirements.
(iii) The organization shall implement a formal policy for the periodic review of eligibility criteria and application procedures to ensure that they are fair and equitable.
(iv) Where examinations are used, the organization shall provide competently proctored examination sites at least once annually.
(v) The organization shall report examination results to applicants in a uniform and timely fashion.
(vi) The organization shall provide applicants who failed either the evaluation or examination with information on general areas of deficiency.
(vii) The organization shall implement policies and procedures to ensure that each applicant's examination results are held confidential and delineate the circumstances under which the applicant's certification status may be made public.
(viii) The organization shall have a formal policy for renewing the certification if an individual's original certification has expired before the individual first seeks admission to the United States or applies for adjustment of status. Such procedures shall be restricted to updating information on licensure to determine the existence of any adverse actions and the need to re-establish English competency.
(ix) The organization shall publish due process policies and procedures for applicants to question eligibility determinations, examination or evaluation results, and eligibility status.
(x) The organization shall provide all qualified applicants with a certificate in a timely manner.
Maintenance of comprehensive and current information
. (i) The organization shall maintain comprehensive and current information of the type necessary to evaluate foreign educational institutions and accrediting bodies for purposes of ensuring that the quality of foreign educational programs is equivalent to those training the same occupation in the United States. The organization shall examine, evaluate, and validate the academic and clinical requirements applied to each country's accrediting body or bodies, or in countries not having such bodies, of the edu
cational institution itself.
(ii) The organization shall also evaluate the licensing and credentialing system(s) of each country or licensing jurisdiction to determine which systems are equivalent to that of the majority of the licensing jurisdictions in the United States.
Ability to conduct examinations fairly and impartially
. An organization undertaking the administration of a predictor examination, or a licensing or certification examination shall demonstrate the ability to conduct such examination fairly and impartially.
Criteria for awarding and governing certificate holders
. (i) The organization shall issue a certificate after the education, experience, license, and English language competency have been evaluated and determined to be equivalent to their United States counterparts. In situations where a United States nationally recognized licensure or certification examination, or a test predicting the success on the licensure or certification examination, is offered overseas, the applicant must pass the examination or the predictor test prior to receiving certification. Passa
ge of a test predicting the success on the licensure or certification examination may be accepted only if a majority of states (and Washington, DC) licensing the profession in which the alien intends to work recognize such a test.
(ii) The organization shall have policies and procedures for the revocation of certificates at any time if it is determined that the certificate holder was not eligible to receive the certificate at the time that it was issued. If the organization revokes an individual's certificate, it must notify the DHS, via the Nebraska Service Center, and the appropriate state regulatory authority with jurisdiction over the individual's health care profession. The organization may not reissue a certificate to an indivi
dual whose certificate has been revoked.
Criteria for maintaining accreditation
. (i) The organization shall advise the DHS of any changes in purpose, structure, or activities of the organization or its program(s).
(ii) The organization shall advise the DHS of any major changes in the evaluation of credentials and examination techniques, if any, or in the scope or objectives of such examinations.
(iii) The organization shall, upon the request of the DHS, submit to the DHS, or any organization designated by the DHS, information requested of the organization and its programs for use in investigating allegations of non-compliance with standards and for general purposes of determining continued approval as an independent credentialing organization.
(iv) The organization shall establish performance outcome measures that track the ability of the certificate holders to pass United States licensure or certification examinations. The purpose of the process is to ensure that certificate holders pass United States licensure or certification examinations at the same pass rate as graduates of United States programs. Failure to establish such measures, or having a record showing an inability of persons granted certificates to pass United States licensure examin
ations at the same rate as graduates of United States programs, may result in a ground for termination of approval. Information regarding the passage rates of certificate holders shall be maintained by the organization and provided to HHS on an annual basis, to the DHS as part of the 5-year reauthorization application, and at any other time upon request by HHS or the DHS.
(v) The organization shall be in ongoing compliance with other policies specified by the DHS.
DHS review of the performance of certifying organizations
. The DHS will review credentialing organizations every 5 years to ensure continued compliance with the standards described in this section. Such review will occur concurrent with the adjudication of a Form I-905 requesting reauthorization to issue health care worker certificates. The DHS will notify the credentialing organization in writing of the results of the review and request for reauthorization. The DHS may conduct a review of the approval of any request for authorization to issue certificates at any
time within the 5-year period of authorization for any reason. If at any time the DHS determines that an organization is not complying with the terms of its authorization or if other adverse information relating to eligibility to issue certificates is developed, the DHS may initiate termination proceedings.
Termination of certifying organizations
. (1) If the DHS determines that an organization has been convicted, or the directors or officers of an authorized credentialing organization have individually been convicted of the violation of state or federal laws, or other information is developed such that the fitness of the organization to continue to issue certificates or certified statements is called into question, the DHS shall automatically terminate authorization for that organization to issue certificates or certified statements by issuing to t
he organization a notice of termination of authorization to issue certificates to foreign health care workers. The notice shall reference the specific conviction that is the basis of the automatic termination.
(2) If the DHS determines that an organization is not complying with the terms of its authorization or other adverse information relating to eligibility to issue certificates is uncovered during the course of a review or otherwise brought to the DHS' attention, or if the DHS determines that an organization currently authorized to issue certificates or certified statements has not submitted an application or provided all information required on Form I-905 within 6 months of July 25, 2003, the DHS will issue
a Notice of Intent to Terminate authorization to issue certificates to the credentialing organization. The Notice shall set forth reasons for the proposed termination.
(i) The credentialing organization shall have 30 days from the date of the Notice of Intent to Terminate authorization to rebut the allegations, or to cure the noncompliance identified in the DHS's notice of intent to terminate.
(ii) DHS will forward to HHS upon receipt any information received in response to a Notice of Intent to Terminate an entity's authorization to issue certificates. Thirty days after the date of the Notice of Intent to Terminate, the DHS shall forward any additional evidence and shall request an opinion from HHS regarding whether the organization's authorization should be terminated. The DHS shall accord HHS' opinion great weight in determining whether the authorization should be terminated. After considerati
on of the rebuttal evidence, if any, and consideration of HHS' opinion, the DHS will promptly provide the organization with a written decision. If termination of credentialing status is made, the written decision shall set forth the reasons for the termination.
(3) An adverse decision may be appealed pursuant to 8 CFR 103.3 to the Associate Commissioner for Examinations. Termination of credentialing status shall remain in effect until and unless the terminated organization reapplies for credentialing status and is approved, or its appeal of the termination decision is sustained by the Administrative Appeals Office. There is no waiting period for an organization to re-apply for credentialing status.