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[Read More Articles] | [print this article] Green Card for Physical Therapists
A foreign physical therapist may enter the US under an immigrant visa or green card. As with a registered nurse, a physical therapist belongs to the so-called, “Schedule A occupations,” which means she no longer has to go through the rather lengthy process of obtaining a labor certification before the employer files the I-140 petition on her behalf. She qualifies for employment-based 3rd preference as skilled worker or professional.

If she has an advanced degree, she may be sponsored under the employment-based 2nd preference, or if she is an outstanding professor or researcher, she may qualify as employment-based 1st preference.

Overview of Sponsorship Procedure

The employer files an I-140 petition on behalf of the foreign physical therapist with the service center of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS, formerly the “INS”) having jurisdiction over the intended place of employment. The petition must be supported by the following documents:

1. Application for Permanent Employment Certification (Form 9089) in duplicate;

2. A wage determination by the State Workforce Agency;

3. Copy of the posted notice of filing an employment certification application;

4. Copy of all in-house media used for recruitment of similar position;

5. Permanent license in the state of intended employment or statement signed by an authorized state physical therapy licensing office in the state of intended employment stating that the beneficiary is qualified to take the state’s licensing exam;

6. Physical therapy diploma or degree; and

7. Proof of prospective employer’s ability to pay wage (for an employer with 100 or more employees, a letter from a financial officer; if employees total less than 100, a copy of annual reports, federal tax returns or validated financial statements).

Obtaining a Licsence

To obtain a physical therapy license the physical therapist must have:

1. Graduated from a physical therapy program or school accredited by the applicable state board or the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), which is part of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

2. Passed the National Physical Therapist Exam (NPTE), which is administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). The NPTE scores are transferable from one state to another.

Foreign physical therapists who are not graduates of CAPTE-accredited schools are subject to additional requirements which vary from state to state, such as credentials evaluation, English language proficiency or a minimum number of hours of board-approved clinical practice. Most of the time, satisfactory credentials evaluation, passing the NPTE and the English language proficiency tests are enough to qualify for a license.

Credential Evalutation

Several state boards acknowledge the following credentialing organizations: Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT); International Consultants of Delaware, Inc. (ICD or ICDEL); International Credentialing Associates, Inc. (ICA); International Education Research Foundation (IERF); International Education Consultants (IEC).

Clinical Practice

California, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Carolina and Virginia require a certain number of hours or a number of months of board-approved clinical practice from foreign graduates.

Considering some states impose additional requirements on foreign graduates, many opt to apply for a license in one state first and relocate to another through endorsement or reciprocity. Since the NPTE results are transferable, an applicant need not take a licensing exam if she passed it before in another state.

A physical therapy license may be endorsed by one state to another that has similar licensing requirements. It may also be recognized by a state if the other which issued it likewise recognized the license issued by the first state, under the principle of reciprocity.

The physical therapist petitioned by an employer may be petitioned by a subsequent employer. Such beneficiary of multiple petitions is entitled to the priority date of the first petition. A priority date is the date the USCIS received the completed I-140 petition with the filing fee of $195.00.

The I-140 petition may be filed concurrently with the adjustment of status application if the physical therapist is already in the US and the priority date is current. However, if the physical therapist is abroad, she may apply for immigrant visa at a US consulate. He Visa Screen certificate is required before the adjustment application is approved or before the immigrant visa is granted.

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