State nearly finished processing licenses after citizenship question leads to confusion

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The state says it is nearly done processing license renewals that left more than 1,000 mental health counselors, therapists and social workers unable to work since the beginning of the month.

CBS4 Problem Solvers has been looking into the issue since last week, when it learned that people were canceling clients because their licenses had suddenly expired. One counselor said she spent all week out of work because of the problem.

The issue surrounds two new questions added to licensing renewal applications by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, or IPLA, which ask if you are a U.S. Citizen, and then if you are a Qualified Alien.

Applicants are misunderstanding and mistakenly saying they are both, when they should be answering "No" to the second question if they are a citizen. By answering "Yes," a process is triggered which requires them to submit additional paperwork, such as a birth certificate, and until they do so their license remains on hold.

On Friday, an IPLA spokesperson said it had winnowed the number of citizenship requests down from 1,100 to 350. Yet on Wednesday this week, CBS4 Problem Solvers spoke to two clinicians who both said they were still waiting to be processed. One of the clinicians sent her paperwork in last Tuesday.

CBS4 Problem Solvers asked the state Wednesday morning for updated numbers. Those numbers finally came in late Thursday afternoon, when an IPLA spokesperson said additional staff had been added to speed up the process and there were only 45 applicants left, all of whom would be processed on Friday.

"Please note, over 5,800 of the 13,760 behavioral health professionals in the state waited until March 15th and after to renew. As a result, our board received a large number of applications, which we are required to review by statute, that coincided with the April 1st deadline. We understand the urgency and are processing the applications as we receive them, in the order we receive them, with updated documentation correcting the incorrect response," the spokesperson said via email.

One clinician, who asked not to be identified, said that she believed some licenses had been actually renewed out of order. She said hers was renewed early Thursday morning after she heard by word of mouth that she could email a specific individual within IPLA to get help.

According to the spokesperson, IPLA planned to start reaching out Friday to anyone who had yet to send in documentation, as well as those with expired licenses for "any other reason."

If you know more about this case or want CBS4 Problem Solvers to consider your case, contact us at 317-677-1544 or ProblemSolvers@cbs4indy.com.

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