Mich. Removes Qualifying Exam as Requirement for Foreign-Educated RNs

By | 2022-02-03T17:41:07-05:00 May 5th, 2008|10 Comments

It’s not an easy process to get a bill passed. But determination and necessity fueled the Philippine Nurses Association of Michigan (PNAM) to do just that.

On June 14, 2007, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law House Bill 4207/Senate Bill 197, which removes the CGFNS Qualifying Examination as a requirement for licensure of foreign-educated nurses in the state.

“The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Qualifying Examination of Nursing Knowledge became unnecessary, an extra burden on foreign-educated nurses seeking to work in the U.S.,” says Ellen Dioso, RN, BSN, CCRN, president of PNAM.

The rules have changed

Changes in visa requirements precipitated the call for elimination of the Qualifying Examination. With the wave of immigration in the mid-1960s, nurses were permitted to enter the U.S. on tourist visas even without prearranged employment or as part of an exchange visitor-nursing program.

In the ’70s, nurses seeking employment in the U.S. (applying for occupational visas) took the CGFNS Qualifying Examination. This is part of the CGFNS Certification Program created to more accurately forecast whether foreign-educated nurses were likely to meet the requirements for licensure of registered nurses in the U.S.

“Taking the qualifying examination meant nurses were taking two exams for the nursing license — the preparatory exam in their home country and the NCLEX-RN in the U.S.,” says Remedios Alvarez Solarte, RN, NP, MSN, chair of PNAM’s CGFNS Task Force.

Currently, foreign-educated nurses enter the U.S. with immigrant visas. They can take the NCLEX-RN examination at one of the 15 International Testing sites, such as in the Philippines, or in the U.S. state where they plan to work.

Challenging effort

The initiative for the removal of the qualifying examination in Michigan, spearheaded by PNAM, began in 2005 and spanned 21 months. Solarte credits the support of the Coalition of Michigan Organizations of Nursing, the Department of Community Health, and the Michigan Board of Nursing.

Long-range benefits

Jeanette Klemczak, RN, MSN, chief nurse executive of the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing, says the elimination of the qualifying exam fits within the larger strategic plan for addressing nursing needs in Michigan. “Any and all ways that we can improve the ability of nurses who want to come to Michigan to provide nursing care is part of our agenda,” she says.

Filipinos are the second-largest group of foreign- educated nurses working in Michigan. Canadians, the largest group, need to undergo only a credential review to qualify for work.

According to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, the state’s demand for RNs by 2010 will exceed supply by 7,000 nurses, with a shortage of 18,000 by 2015. “Foreign-educated nurses fill a gap to help care for our patients,” says Linda Taft, RN, chair of the Michigan Board of Nursing.

National trend

Of the 59 states and territorial boards of nursing that comprise the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 29 do not require the Qualifying Exam. New Jersey removed the exam in 2006 as a requirement to take the NCLEX.

Michigan requires the CGFNS Credentials Evaluation Service Full Education Course-by-Course Report for internationally educated RNs who have not been licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction for at least five years. Applicants who graduated from a nursing program that was taught in a language other than English also must take an English-language proficiency exam.


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  1. Avatar
    parveen siddiq November 2, 2017 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    hi I have a question please reply I live in Michigan usa I m graduate from Pakistan I want to know about cgfns and tofel my slybus was in English. is cgfns qualifying exam and tofel is compulsory for me to work in mi.thanks

    • Heather Cygan
      Heather Cygan November 7, 2017 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Parveen,
      This article might help answer some of your questions: https://www.nurse.com/blog/2015/01/28/coming-to-america/

      • Avatar
        Anonymous November 29, 2017 at 5:30 am - Reply

        The article does not help answer any question other than to lobby for CGFNS.

        Foreign educated nurses, DO NOT let CGFNS rip you off.

        CGFNS, I believe started on a good path initially to get quality educated nurses into the US and supporting foreign graduate nurses. However, they are now a money making machine rather than trying to support the foreign educated nurse in their path.

        If you do a job search for a “credential evaluator” or “authentication and verification specialist” for CGFNS all you need is a high school diploma or a degree that is unrelated to investigations. There is NO qualification there stating one is qualified to investigate and determine if documents are authentic…unless a high school diploma, office experience, data entry, or “International Affairs, International Relations, ….” is considered to qualify an individual to determine authenticity of documents. There is nothing in the job postings that states work experience in authenticating documents or qualifying, verifying, and validating documents. Nothing even at the Director level does it show anything for qualifying individuals to authenticate documents.

        CGFNS will not tell you any information concerning your case for fear of “compromising” their investigation on you. Even if it is a simple question concerning information about your case.

        Write to your state board, congressman, senator, Better Business Bureau, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office to get CGFNS to allow information on the applicant’s case to be available let be information for initial submission, where the application is, what’s missing, and simple requests.

        Write to your state board, congressman, and senator to push the boards to accept other credentialing agencies. CGFNS is a monopoly where 90 percent of states require CGFNS and only CGFNS. There are other credentialing agencies out there.

        State boards! Please review CGFNS as an organization with a critical eye and review all the reviews from individuals who went through this process. Send out an anonymous survey so foreign educated nurses can feel like they will not be singled out if they complete the survey honestly. You would be surprised as to how CGFNS treats individuals which is horrible.

    • Avatar
      Fabiana Souza September 21, 2018 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      I applied for CES from CGFNS 3 months ago. I am shocked by their lack of professionalism. In the beginning I thought I was dealing with stupid people but latter I realize everything is done on purpose to delay, frustrate and actually ripp you off as many has already said. I believe they have no qualification to do this job. Stay away from CGFNS. Yes there are other Institutions that can do this job.

  2. Avatar
    Lanie June 1, 2018 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    We are trying to hire nurses in Philippines but does this bill took effect yet? It looks like the nurses still need to take the CGFNS exam. Please respond. Thank you.

  3. Avatar
    Mhey April 1, 2019 at 4:12 am - Reply

    CGFNS is terrible,I’m so frustrated they are money maker! I don’t know why MI state just decided to revoked that House bill signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm which helps and lessen the burdens of many foreign nurses. Besides we have our license in our home country where we took our bachelors degree in Nursing. I think CGFNS exam can only apply to those who have no licence in their Country where they came from. I hope the State of Michigan will follow other States to remove this CGFNS exam. because not all applicant can afford to pay.

  4. Avatar
    Anonymous December 3, 2019 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    I have a question. Like is it complusion to evaluate the foreign degree through cgfns. Can we evaluate through community college and apply for nclex exam? Will that work?

  5. Avatar
    Shanmugavalli June 26, 2021 at 11:31 am - Reply

    I have a question. I am an international nurse. I have completed my CGFNS and passed in 2006. Now I try to apply for Michigan Nursing Board to take NCLEX exam, because after long period I got my visa number from NVC. While applying I spoke to Nursing Board person, they didn’t mention regarding CGFNS certification needs to be within 2 years. I have paid for License Application / CGFNS Verification Letter / NCLEX Exam / Fingerprint payment and courier charges to sending from outside of U.S. Now MI Nursing board is holding my application and informed me to take a new CGFNS CP again, because they said my existing CGFNS CP certificate is very old, its needs to be within 2 years. My question is my CGFNS CP is valid until now, why they didn’t mentioned earlier while asking about the license information (Before applying). In 2007 I requested CGFNS to send the CGFNS Verification letter to MI Nursing Board that also I told the nursing board person and ask them to check in their system and they told me its difficult to find better request the CGFNS to send one more time to nursing board directly. That also I paid and letter sent. After all I did, they are saying I need to provide new CGFNS CP, then they will allow me to do the NCLEX. It’s really annoying us. Kindly I want to know how to overcome from this issue and I want to apply for NCLEX as early as possible.

  6. Avatar
    Kate Malapo September 30, 2021 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    So i passed nclex and licensed under Illinois. I am applying for a license endorsement to Michigan. But one of their requirements is the certification program since michigan is not part of the nurse licensure compact. When I called cgfns directly to clear this they said that i have to take the cgfns exam. Is that true? Please help me.

    • Sallie Jimenez
      Sallie Jimenez October 13, 2021 at 11:34 am - Reply

      Hello Kate,

      Since you mention the CGFNS, I assume you were educated outside the U.S. You may want to contact the Michigan Board of Nursing to see if taking the CGFNS certification exam is a prerequisite to taking the NCLEX to practice in Michigan. But the good news is there is legislation pending in Michigan for the state to join the NLC. Here’s a link to see the current status of the bill: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(fs13wchv1lzbvld111gprvau))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=2021-HB-4046 Contacting legislators in Michigan to voice your support of such a bill and sharing your interest in practicing in the state wouldn’t hurt in moving the legislation along.

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