What is H-1B
The H-1B is a nonimmigrant classification visa that applies to people who intend to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and the ability to relate to DOD (Department of Defence) cooperative research and development project, as a model of distinguished ability or merit.
Eligibility criteria for Physical therapist
For a physical therapist who is interested in seeking H-1B visa, he must meet the following USCIS Healthcare worker requirements:
- Hold at least a Bachelor Degree or foreign equivalent. The foreign national physical therapists who don’t have a bachelor’s degree must get an assessment from the credential agency that confirms that the degree is a match to a minimum of bachelor’s degree in physical therapy.
- Have your educational credentials verified through Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT).
- Obtain a Visa Screen Certificate (Type I Certificate) through FCCPT. This certificate is necessary even if the foreign national is educated in the US.
- All foreign national physical therapists need to get a Health Care Worker Certification by Commission of Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).
- Obtain a PT license in the State of Practice by passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) or letter of eligibility to get the state license once the H-1B is approved.
H-1B visa allows US employers to employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations. But before the application is submitted to USCIS, the employer must submit and receive the LCA from the department of Labor.
H-1B CAP and Exemption
When evaluating the H-1B, timing is an important factor. There is an annual numeric cap of 65,000 for H-1B visas. In addition, 20,000 H-1Bs are specially for those with Master’s degree or higher degree from an accomplished US educational institution. Due to high demand for H-1B visas, USCIS selects the applications on the basis of a lottery. The registration window opens every year in March/ April and the visas are issued beginning October of the same year. The employer must ensure that their applicants are registered for the lottery on time.
The regulation provides some exemption to the numerical cap. Foreign nationals who will be employed at an institution of higher education or affiliated nonprofit entity or governmental research organization are exempted from H-1B cap.
Get in touch with an experienced attorney to see whether your employer institution or the foreign national physical therapist are subject to the H-1B cap or are cap exempt so that necessary steps can be taken. If the H-1B petition is subject to the cap, the foreign national can not start working before October and needs alternative work authorization (like CPT/ OPT) to continue working.
Period of Admission
Foreign physical therapists who wish to enter on the H-1B visa are admitted for a period of three years and the period of admission may be extended for another three years. The duration of the stay can be limited for reasons like limited duration contract or limited licensure. The spouse and the unmarried children can also enter on H4 visa.
F1 to H-1B- Change of Status
After graduating, the physical therapist students on F1 can apply for a change of status from F1 to H-1B. The following steps needs to be followed for adjustment of status:
- Find an employer who is willing to sponsor the H-1B visa
- The employer can register the candidates for H-1B CAP
- If selected, the employer needs to file the H-1B visa petition on your behalf
- In case the petition is pending, look for the cap-gap extension so that you can remain on F1 visa and can continue to live and work legally in the US
It is always advisable to work with an experienced attorney to file your H-1B petition, due to the legalities involved during the process. Our Attorney Mr, Kaushik Ranchod has years of experienc in working with health care professionals. His thoughtful guidance has ensured thousands of immigrants working in the healthcare industry to secure permanent residency and have a safe future in the United States.
The process includes:
- Evaluation of Candidate profile
- Filing the LCA with the Department of Labor
- Complete the Form I-129, and Form I-129 H
- Submit all the valid documents including educational documents, licensing documentation, offer letter to the USCIS.
Sec. 343 Certificate
This certificate certifies that the alien physical therapist’s education, experience, English language ability and training are equivalent to the US worker. The certificate also verifies that the foriegnlicense of the applicant is valid and current. The physical therapists are needed to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. The exam is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) of Princeton, New Jersey.
The Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy reviews the applicants educational and professional credentials and issues the 343 Certificate. Before starting the process, it is best to know that type of certificate that is needed before starting the process.
Type I certificate: This is used if the applicant has never been licensed in the US. It covers both education credential review and even the requirements for the USCIS 343 Certificate.
Type II certificate: This certificate is used by the applicant who is in the US currently and needs the certificate for immigration process. The purpose of the review is to verify the education, verification of current licensure and the proficiency of English language.
The licensing requirement for physical therapists varies from state to state as each state has its own set of requirements. It is crucial to know the process and form requirements of the state where the therapist wishes to work. An experienced attorney can help you find the necessary details and help you with state licensure for foreign-educated therapists.
Physical Therapist can file for direct I-140 because of Schedule A
Congress passed legislation that put physical therapists on a short-list of pre-certified occupations, as there is always shortage of qualified US applicants. Therefore, the foreign physical therapists who wish to work and live in the US permanently, can make use of the Schedule A Physical therapist Green Card.
Wondering what is Schedule A Physical therapist Green Card?
This regulation states that “there are not sufficient United States workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available for the occupations listed on Schedule A and that the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed will not be adversely affected by the employment of aliens. Therefore, alien physical therapists can file their I-140 immediately with USCIS once they have found an employer that is willing to sponsor them and if they meet the eligibility criteria.
It will not be wrong to say that the physical therapist get their green cards faster than many other professions, because of this option.
How to file I-140 for Physical therapist?
As with H-1B, I 140 petition is also an employer petition and can only be filed by the employer and only under the supervision of an attorney. The employer needs to demonstrate that he has a real need for the foreign worker and the ability to pay his wages. Filing the I-140 for physical therapists should be done with great care. It must include:
- Prevailing wage determination
- Form I-140, petition for Alien Worker with the filing fee
- Evidence of the employer’s ability to pay the salary of the alien by providing copies of annual reports and audited financial statements.
- Evidence of alien’s qualification and license to practice in the state of employment
- Form G-28, ETA-9089
- Copy of the posted Notice and Attestation which includes details like job description, rate of pay and work hours.
- Transcripts that indicate bachelor’s or higher degree (In case of bachelor’s degree, evaluation to prove that it is equivalent to the first professional degree in the physical therapy in the US)
- License in the home country
- License in the state of intended employment
As this job posting falls under Schedule A, the I-140 petition needs to be accompanied with a copy of the job posting notice. The notice should include the name of the employer, the address, complete job description, salary, educational requirements and the document that proves that the foreign-born candidate has applied for labor certification for the position. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all processes are strictly followed.
Physical Therapist TN Visa
If you are a Mexican or a Canadian citizen and wish to work as a physical therapist in the US you must possess the requisite qualification mentioned by the NAFTA treaty, which is Licenciatura Degree or Baccalaureate or state or the provincial license. Also, the therapist needs to have a pre-arranged part-time or full-time job with a US employer. The therapists willing to work in the US also need to get a certificate from Commission of Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), the Health Care Worker Certification. The employer need not file a petition for the physical therapists to gain entry into the US.
The therapist in the US seeking a change of status from their current status can easily do it. The employer needs to file a petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129 and provide all the supporting evidence through the H-1B Lottery process.
As H-1B visa is also called a lottery visa, many hospitals might rely on TN visa in case the therapist is from Mexico or Canada or the E-3 visa if the therapist is from Australia. In case the applicant does not get the H-1B visa, the direct petition for Green Card is an option. Most physical therapists are eligible for EB-2 and EB-3 green cards.
What makes us unique?
Our law Firm has years of experience in representing healthcare professionals. Our leading attorney Mr. Kaushik has years of experience in working on numerous cases ranging from simple to extremely complex. Contact us today for a consultation at 916-613-3553. In the US, the healthcare industry is strictly regulated therefore, you must be meticulous with your visa application. To avoid any red flags, it is best to work only with an experienced immigration law firm.
We have a team of immigration lawyers with years of knowledge and experience of handling visa applications for physical therapists and other healthcare professionals. Filing the H-1B for the physical therapist requires the expertise of a qualified attorney to ensure that all the documents and fees are filed correctly. The lawyers at our firm take their time out, explain the whole process, help you gather the necessary documents, file the petition and handle the RFEs (Request For Evidence) if any. In addition to this, Mr. Kaushik works with the organization to plan the entire immigration journey. Get in touch and schedule an appointment.
Though H-1B is the most popular option for physical therapists to come to the United States, it is not the only visa option. Foreign national physical therapists who wish to work in the US can also apply using the ‘Schedule A’ Green Card for Physical Therapists and come to the United States directly on a Green Card.
I missed the CAP Registration this year, what should I do?
The best answer is to get an alternative Work Authorization and prepare for the next H-1B registration that opens in March/ April every year. It is extremely important to maintain your current immigration status as the new H-1B comes into effect only from October of the coming year.