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Physical therapists seeking employment in the United States have two options under United States immigration law: a temporary working visa (also known as an H-1B visa), and a permanent employment visa ("green card"). The requirements for obtaining each are similar, and processing times constitute the only major difference between a temporary and a permanent visa.

Permanent U.S Residence (Green Card)

One way people immigrate to the United States (U.S.) is based on employment. Physical therapists have already been designated by the U.S. Department of Labor to be an occupation for which there is a national shortage (Schedule A). Therefore, they are allowed to file for their green cards by showing that they have a permanent job offer to work as a physical therapist in the United States, speak English sufficiently well, and meet other criteria. They can work at a facility anywhere in the United States. They do not have to work in any kind of "shortage" location.

As a schedule A profession, physical therapists do not need a Labor Certification Application from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The process starts by filing Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, on behalf of the foreign national with USCIS. A U.S. employer may sponsor a prospective or current foreign national employee who is inside or outside the U.S. and who may qualify under one or more of the employment based or “EB” immigrant visa categories. Filing a petition showing that you and the foreign national have an intent to have an employer-employee relationship upon the approval of the petition and proving your employer-employee relationship and the foreign national’s qualifications gives the foreign national a place in line among others waiting to immigrate based on the same kind of “EB” visa category. When the place in line is reached, the foreign national may be eligible to apply to immigrate.

A Physical Therapist who meets the professional educational and licensing requirements may qualify for a green card.

What is required?

1. A Physical Therapist with a 4 Year Bachelor Degree in Physical Therapy, or equivalent, and,

2. A Physical Therapist with a State License, or, A Physical Therapist with a letter from the State Licensing Authority for the state of intended employment stating that the Foreign National Physical Therapist is qualified to take that state's written licensing examination for Physical Therapists.

Meaning: Licensure is not a must to get a green card.

Outside the U.S.

The Employer files the Form I-140 and Form ETA 750 with the USCIS.
Once the USCIS approves the I-140 Petition, the USCIS first sends the I-140 Petition to the National Visa Center. If there is no backlog for immigrant visas from the Physical Therapist’s native country, the Visa Center forwards a packet to the Physical Therapist containing biographical information forms to be completed by her and her family members, and a list of documents which must be presented at her interview for permanent residence.

The Physical Therapist sends the signed and completed forms to the U.S. consulate where the Physical Therapist will have her interview for permanent residence.

At this interview, the Physical Therapist must present various documents including the following:

a. Application for Immigrant Visa
b. Police Clearance
c. Birth Certificate
d. Marriage Certificate, if any
e. Divorce or Death Certificate of Spouse, if any
f. Valid Passport
g. Medical Examination
h. USCIS Photographs
i. Recent job offer letter (or employment contract)
j. Financial information regarding employer
k. Government filing fee


Within the U.S.:

The Employer files the Form I-140 and Form ETA 9089 with the USCIS. The Physical Therapist may submit an application for Adjustment of Status concurrently with the I-140. The Physical Therapist may start work as soon as she/he receives Work Authorization. However, a Physical Therapist can not qualify for permanent residence until she presents a Type II certificate issued through the FCCPT/ CGFNS.

 







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