Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

What forms do I need to receive a professional license?

To begin the Licensure process you need to submit an application form. All forms relevant to your area of practice are on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website. The Acts and Rules for each profession can be accessed from the Department's Home Page.

When will I get a professional license renewal form?

In most cases, a renewal notice will be sent to you in the mail approximately two months prior to the expiration date of your license. It is crucial to always keep your address updated.

What is the difference between a non-renewed and inactive professional license?

A non-renewed license is a license that has not been renewed or placed on inactive status. An inactive license is a license that has been placed on inactive status by the licensee, usually at renewal time. Typically, you do not have to pay lapsed renewal fees if your license is placed on inactive status. If a license is non-renewed or inactive for five years or longer, it may be necessary to submit a restoration application and additional documentation; depending on the profession. You may not practice in Illinois when your license is non-renewed or inactive.

What does an "intent to deny" letter mean?

After filling out an application or renewal form you may receive an "intent to deny" your application. Sometimes you may receive a "notice" to meet with the board. Either way, there are "issues" with your application that need to be discussed with the board. The majority of issues deal with previous criminal convictions and disciplinary actions from previous states. In these cases, it is wise to consult with legal counsel. Bear in mind that any "false" information or lack thereof on the application will make the underlying allegation that much harder to resolve.

How does an IDFPR investigation start?

The investigation process at IDFPR can be initiated in different ways. A licensee may have received a complaint to the Department, may have provided certain information on an application or renewal form, or another State or Federal agency may have put the Department on notice of its own adjudication. At this point, the Department will assign your case to an investigator who will open up a file and an IR report under your name and license number.

What should I do when an IDFPR investigator contacts me?

Do not act to quickly? Do not let the investigator control the situation. He or she may act as if they can make you act right away, but that is not the case. You may either hear from an investigator from the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation by telephone or in person. You might also receive a request for documentation related to the investigation. Despite not being prevented from practicing your trade at this point, it is wise to cooperate with the investigation in an effort to start off on the right foot with the IDFPR. This does not mean turn over any documents or speak to an investigator without advice of counsel, but refusing to return a phone call is not the best method to proceed. Bear in mind that every complaint that is processed by the Illinois Department of Financial Regulation must be investigated so try not take it personal.

Do I have to talk to the IDFPR investigator?

You do not have to talk to an investigator from the Department, and you certainly are entitled to an attorney if you decide to do so. Many licensees have reported that their failure to comply, however, has made things worse and there is merit to that philosophy. You are always entitled to speak with legal counsel and have one present throughout the entire investigation. Many licensees have the false impression that the investigators are part of the decision-making process, which they are not, but the more compliance with them the better. Having legal counsel at this stage is crucial and will in no way affect the way the Department perceives you.

Do I have to give the IDFPR Investigator Documents?

Often times an investigator will request documentation from you as part of the investigation. In this situation, you can refuse this request and suggest that they send you a subpoena which will now give you legal standing to object to their request. Many licensees suggest that if the documentation is not "damaging" to your case and in fact may "help" your cause, you may want to consider turning it over. Most licensees don't realize that during the investigative stage you can actually be doing a lot of mitigation by providing your own evidence to the board. This information would typically have not been given, unless it had been provided to your investigator. As far as patient medical records, you are required to get authorization by the way of release. This release is generally provided by the investigator for you.

What is the first step in the disciplinary process?

Once your matter has been assigned to a staff attorney, from an investigator, you will be given notice as to what happens next by the staff attorney. Be careful because, often times, licensees move residences and offices and forget to notify the Department. This will result in a Default Suspension if you don't respond to the notice. The notice will either be a "disciplinary conference" notice to meet with your designated board related to your license, or an actual formal complaint. A formal complaint will include a preliminary hearing date to appear in front of an administrative law judge for an initial status date. A "disciplinary conference" notice sounds worse than it is because of the use of the word "disciplinary." It is still, however, an opportunity on the licensees' part to meet on an "informal" basis with a staff attorney and a board member. The focus will be on trying to resolve the matter without having IDFPR file a formal complaint. If a formal complaint is filed, there is still an opportunity on most occasions to meet "informally." Should this occur, an appearance must be made in front of an administrative law judge. The judge will answer the complaint and set your matter for a hearing if it cannot be resolved in the "informal stage."

What is an informal disciplinary conference?

This is a meeting between yourself, an attorney for the Department and a member of the Disciplinary Board. At this meeting, you will have an opportunity to explain your side of the story, and the goal is to try to convince the Department to drop your case. The Conference is not a hearing. There is no court reporter, and there is no witness testimony. The Conference is essentially a conversation between you and the Board Member about the complaint against you.

If you are given a notice of Disciplinary Conference, it is highly recommended that you appear at the scheduled date and time. Not only can you dispose of your matter without a formal complaint at this point, but you can prevent a formal complaint from being filed against your license. The notice will inform the allegations against you and provide you with a list of documents to bring, at the time. You will need to meet with a staff attorney and a member of the board designated for your license. Information, relevant to your case, must be provided and questions answered in an effort to have the matter closed. If the case cannot be closed, there are disciplinary settlement options such as a fine, reprimand, a probation, and a suspension. Most licensees will tell you that having legal counsel at this stage is imperative. If your case is closed, you will not have to deal with the Department unless you receive a "letter of concern." This letter is mailed to your address and not posted on the Department website. Any other forms of discipline are negotiated into a stipulation called a "consent order." The consent order is signed by Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, you, and your legal counsel. A consent order is reportable to the IDFPR website and any other national practitioner databases.

How do I prepare for an informal disciplinary conference?

The Answer to this question is to simply prepare yourself the same way you would prepare yourself for a formal hearing. The Department often times uses the "Informal" process to intimidate and encourage licensees to settle cases without having to put in the time and resources of having to prepare itself for a formal hearing. In doing so, it has every expectation that you provide it with a full an accurate defense to its allegations in the "Informal" stage. Furthermore, during the informal process there is always a member of your disciplinary board present at your conference who will be the same board member who will be advising the entire board if your matter results in a formal hearing. It is crucial to provide your attorney with any and all documentation sent to you by the Department and any and all relevant documentation relevant to it allegations. If your licensing attorney has not prepared you for an informal proceeding as if it was a "formal" hearing then you have most likely hired the wrong attorney.

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