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Green Card for Physical Therapists

Updated May 2010

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.

The foreign national’s place in line, known as a “priority date,” will be based on the date your petition is filed with USCIS. For this reason, there is an advantage to filing as soon as you are certain that you wish to obtain the permanent services of the foreign national. The combination of high demand and the limits set by law on how many people can immigrate each year under each category and from a particular country means that for some foreign nationals there may be no waiting period, while for others there may be a significant waiting period. Generally speaking, if a foreign national entered the U.S. legally and is currently in the U.S. (and meets certain other requirements), they may be able to file an application to adjust to permanent resident status if the employment-based immigrant visa category for that foreign national is “current.” In most cases, when the foreign national’s place in line is reached and they then apply to immigrate, the foreign national’s husband or wife and unmarried children under 21 can apply as dependents. Processing times depend on a number of factors.

You can check the current processing times on our website. http://www.ptsponsor.com/Case_status_online.php

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:

  • Application for Immigrant Visa
  • Police Clearance
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate, if any
  • Divorce or Death Certificate of Spouse, if any
  • Valid Passport
  • Medical Examination
  • USCIS Photographs
  • Recent job offer letter (or employment contract)
  • Financial information regarding employer
  • 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.

Our Advice:

Apply for both H1b and green card for the following reasons:

  1. There are only 65,000 slots available for H1b. If your name was not picked in the lottery, you have to reapply next year. There is no guarantee that your name will be picked the next year either. Having both H1b and green card petitions will guarantee you the soonest possible time to work in the U.S.
  2. H1b, if your name gets picked on April 1, allows you to work in the U.S. October of that year. This working visa is valid for 3 years and is renewable for another 3 more years. Having both H1b and green card provides better options. Once your green card is approved, it allows you to stay in the U.S. for 10 years. Green card is renewable and allows you to apply for citizenship. H1b is fast. Green card allows you to stay in the U.S. longer.
  3. Lastly, H1b requires you to work for the employer who sponsored you. You can only switch employers if the new employer is willing to sponsor you. Also, if you are sponsored as full time physical therapists, you can only work as a full time physical therapist. Once your green card is approved or your employment authorization, you can work for any employer * and work for any job your heart desires.

(*You are required to work for the employer who sponsored you for green card for at least 6 months. This is a requirement set by the USCIS.)

USCIS Fees: (as of May 2010)

  • I-140: Petition for an Immigrant Worker - $475.00
  • I-485: Adjust status and become permanent resident while in the U.S. (includes filing plus biometric - $1,010
  • I-765: Employment Authorization Document - $340.00

Average Lawyer Fees: $2,000-$10,000.00


United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. www.uscis.gov

ldquo;Before contacting the USCIS, USCIS may be able to help you if you have a question about immigration procedures, or need clarification, by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833). This toll-free call center has additional information and, during their specified office hours, can connect you to live assistance in English and Spanish. The NCSC will be able to answer most questions - although they cannot provide information about the status of your case over the telephone.”

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