The US is always considered a lucrative destination to work as a foreign national physical therapist. Foreign national physical therapists apply for visas to work either as temporary professionals or permanent residents.
Many visa programs are available to a physical therapist looking to work in the US, including the H-1B. The H1B visa program for physical therapists is the most popular visa option available for foreign nationals in the profession.
Below are frequently asked questions concerning H-1B visas for physical therapists and the answers. Knowing as much as you can about the program helps ensure your application doesn’t end up in the rejected or denied stack.
How Does the US H1B Visa for a Physical Therapist Work?
The H1B program allows employers in the United States to employ foreign individuals in specialty occupations. These specialty occupations are regulated and defined by the regulations as an occupation requiring practical and theoretical application of a body of specialized knowledge.
The regulations state the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty or its equivalent as the minimum entry requirement. Physical therapists, along with most professional positions, automatically qualify as a specialty occupation.
This type of visa program supports dual intent and is limited to six years of stay in the United States. Eligible candidates for the US H1B visa for physical therapists must:
- Have at least a bachelor’s in physical therapy or its equivalent, or get an evaluation from a credential agency;
- Pass the NPTE to be licensed in the state of intended employment. Foreign applicants also have to obtain a visitor visa to come to the US and write the exam.
- Foreign therapists must have the Health Care Worker Certification (Visa Screen) given by the CGFNS (Commission of Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools). Or they obtain the Type 1 Certificate issued by the Federal Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT). Either of these certifications is required, whether or not the foreign national is US-educated.
What Are the Stages Involved in Securing American Therapy Jobs?
Securing an American therapy job as a physical therapist involves three basic stages. Each stage includes you working with groups or agencies, from FCCPT to FSBPT, to ensure your eligibility for the jobs. They include:
- Verifying your educational credentials: A board-approved agency verifies that your education is equivalent to the Physical Therapy degree granted by the US.
- Obtaining a license: This can include you taking English competency tests, depending on the requirements of your intended state for employment. You will need to register with the FSBPT to take the National Physical Therapy Examination. Once your file is completed, with the application, fees, and tests (if applicable), the state will request permission to take the test. The FSBPT sends an “Authorization to Test” to you, and you’ll contact the testing firm to schedule a date.
- Immigration Approval: Once you’ve passed the NPTE successfully and have received a license, your intended company of employment can file for an H1B visa. You will have to present a visa screen with the H1B application forms.
H-1B Visa for a Physical Therapist – Do Employers Have to Pay Unlicensed H1B Workers?
The NPTE through which foreign national physical therapists receive their license is not offered overseas. All physical therapists must enter the US to sit for the state licensing exam before applying for the H-1B visa. They must enter the US, sit for the licensing exam, and obtain their license. Only then can they start their physical therapist jobs.
However, the regulations say H-1B workers must be paid within 30 days of entering a new location in the US. That’s impossible because it’s rare for foreign nationals to enter the US, sit for the exam, and obtain their license in thirty days.
The regulations says workers of designated professions must be paid once they enter into employment, which covers higher education for licensing exams and reporting for orientation.
What Nonimmigrant Visa Options Are Available for Physical Therapists?
Foreign individuals looking to work as physical therapists in the US have several nonimmigrant visa options. They are primarily classified into H-1B, H-1B1, E-3, and TN. Therapist jobs have the highest number under the H-1B program, out of which physical therapists make up the largest component. H-1B1 is another good option for foreign nationals looking to work in the US; it has been in existence since 2004.
The E-3 visa is for Australian citizens; it allows the visa holder’s spouse to apply for work authorization as a physical therapy intern in the US. The TN visa is for physical therapists from Mexico and Canada. All of these visas are subject to educational credentials review
H-1B Physical Therapist Jobs
The top twelve H1B Visa sponsors for physical therapist jobs in the fiscal year 2019 include:
- Grandison Management;
- Select Rehabilitation;
- Reliant Pro Rehab;
- Management Health Systems,
- Rehabcare Group;
- Heartland Employment Services;
- Avant Healthcare Professionals;
- Kindred Rehab Services;
- Kindred Rehab Services;
- Encore Rehabilitation Services; and
- Genesis Eldercare Rehabilitation Services.
H-1B Visa Requirements for Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech-Language Pathologists
There are different requirements for physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists to acquire the H-1B visa. A licensed physical therapist must:
- Have at least a Physical Therapy bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent, or a Master’s degree. This bachelor’s degree must be from an accredited university based on the immigrant responsibility act;
- Verify their credentials through Physical Therapy Foreign Credentialing Commission;
- Obtain a visa screen certification issued by the CGFNS;
- Obtain a Type 1 Certificate by the FCCPT; and
- Obtain a Physical Therapy license in the State of intended practice by writing and passing the NPTE. Or, obtain a letter of eligibility to get a license once the H-1B visa is approved.
An occupational therapist must:
- Also have at least a doctorate or master’s degree in Occupational Therapy to take the NBCOT licensure exam;
- Obtain a Healthcare Worker Certification visa screen issued by the CGFNS;
- Obtain an NBCOT-issued (National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy) VCVC (Visa Credential Verification Certificate) and have a valid phone number;
- Obtain the OT license in the state of intended employment through writing and passing the NBCOT licensing examinations.
A speech-language pathologist or therapist:
- Have at least a master’s or advanced doctoral degree to qualify for educational and licensure documents certification;
- Must be able to speak a foreign language other than their native language,
- Obtain a CGFNS-issued visa screen Healthcare Worker Certification; and
- Obtain the certification in the state of intended employment by successfully completing the Praxis Exam in Speech-Language Pathology.
It is also important for any of these individuals to be conversant with the prevailing wage requirement before applying. The prevailing wage may differ by states as some states get to make their prevailing wage for certain occupations more than others.
What Immigration Options Are Available for Foreign National Physical Therapists?
The Congress majorly grants immigrant physical therapy petitions for applicants currently living overseas who possess a visa screen certificate and want to work in a metropolitan statistical area. It is also for those with other employment-based petitions willing to return to their home country to get the license at a US consulate.
Foreign-born physical therapists looking to obtain permanent residency in the US through their education and training can obtain the H-1B work visa and apply for dual intent designation from the relevant visa issuance body.
The H1B visa may be issued to healthcare providers seeking temporary employment in a specialty occupation to curb illegal immigration based on the illegal immigration reform.
Specialty occupations require professional skills like that of a physical therapist and registered nurse in health-care facilities. Foreign individuals certified in physical therapy can seek a “Schedule A” Green Card for PTs. Qualified Canadians and Mexican physical therapists can also seek TN visas for a TN status for temporary license pending when they get the state license.
TN applications usually require that you understand the details of such a TN application. You also need to know the licensing steps provided by the state licensure department. If possible, you can check to build a healthy attorney-client relationship with your immigration lawyer so everything is in place when making a new LCA for the annual cap of that fiscal year.
How Can Herman Legal Group Help You?
Are you a physical therapist who wants to make a labor certification application to come and work as a permanent resident in the United States without having an admissibility issue? Or are you one of those who have tried getting green cards but failed?
The truth is that applying for a green card after the confirmation of your H-1B visa can be a difficult task because there is a limit per fiscal year.
However, with over 26 years handling immigration matters we are familiar with the new LCA process for those who want to apply for a green card.
All you need to have us handle your H1B visa as a physical therapist is to schedule a consultation with us by calling +1-216-696-617. You can either come to our office to take the consultation on how to go about the new LCA as an individual or a nonprofit organization or you can do so virtually. If you want a personal consultation you can book online with Richard Herman.
H1B visa is one of the many options available to foreign national professional physical therapists enabling them to work in the US, and it can be renewed indefinitely. Unlike certain countries, the USCIS issues 65,000 H1-B visas, with an additional 20,000 for applicants with a master’s or an equivalent degree. Physical therapists have always been granted an H1-B visa because they are considered a specialized occupation. Applicants in PT generally have to possess a graduate degree like a doctorate, master’s, or higher in Physical Therapy.