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H-1B Visa for Physical Therapists

Updated May 2010

H-1B is a visa classification that allows those who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher to live and work in the US as “specialty workers” in jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. Physical Therapists are included in this classification. The maximum allotted visas authorized by Congress are 65,000 new H1B visas per fiscal year. Some employers and some employees are not subject to this numerical “cap.”

After you file form I-129 (Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker), USCIS will send you a receipt so you know that USCIS have received your petition. If your petition is incomplete, USCIS may have to reject it and return your fee, or ask you for more evidence or information, which will delay processing. USCIS will notify you when a decision is made. If the prospective employee is in the U.S. in a valid nonimmigrant status, he or she can begin working for the employer upon approval of the Form I- 129 petitions. If the prospective employee is residing outside the U.S. or appears to be ineligible to change his or her status while in the U.S., the petition will be sent to the U.S. consulate nearest the prospective employee’s foreign residence. The prospective employee can then apply at the U.S. consulate for a non-immigrant visa. If the visa is issued, he or she will then be able to travel to the U.S. and apply for admission. An employer can file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, with the appropriate fee, concurrently with the Form I- 129, or after receiving the receipt notice for the Form I- 129, at the USCIS location where the Form I-129 was filed. The initial period of stay granted to a temporary employee is three years with an extension of six years. It usually takes 3-6 months for standard processing for USCIS to process the H1b petition and 14 days for premium processing if the quota is not reached.

H-1b nonimmigrant workers may be able to maintain lawful nonimmigrant status and, at the same time, be beneficiaries of an immigrant visa petition. H1b workers may take certain steps toward obtaining lawful Permanent resident status without affecting their non-immigrant status.

Last year, for fiscal year 2008, H-1B visas outnumbered the available number of visas on the first day they were allowed to be submitted (April 2, 2007), well before the fiscal year began on October 1, 2008.   USCIS cut off any further filings after April 2, 2007, and placed the 120,000 + petitions it received into a “lottery.” This year all filings must reach USCIS by April 1, 2008, as Congress has not acted to increase the numbers of H-1B visas and the 65,000 limit will once again be reached on April 1st. For foreign workers who have earned Master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education, they allowed an additional 20,000 H-1b petitions “exempt” from the cap. Last year, the 20,000 limit for these U.S. Master’s degree holders was reached on April 30, 2007.  Even for prospective employees with U.S. Master’s Degrees, it is anticipated that this year, USCIS will receive more than the allotted number on the first day of filing. Therefore, all employers wishing to file H-1B visa petitions for prospective employees must file on April 1, 2008, meaning the petition must reach USCIS on April 1, 2008.

Students in Optional Practical Training with employers who wish to maintain their employment, as well as any other prospective employee should also begin preparation now for any H-1B filing.  Copies of diplomas, previous employment letters, transcripts of courses taken, proof of nonimmigrant status and a detailed resume are some of the documents that will be needed for filing the H-1B package.

Our advice:

  1. Use Overnight Mailing to make sure that application reached USCIS by April 1.
  2. Make sure all requirements and documents are completed before April 1.
  3. Make sure you saved enough money for immigration and licensing. To get an idea of how much the licensing process will cost, visit our expense advisor page at http://www.ptsponsor.com/expense_adv.php

USCIS Fees (Effective as of May 19, 2010)

  • I 129: Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker - $320.00
  • I-907: Premium Processing Fee - $1,000.00
  • Average Lawyer Fees - $1.000.00- $4,000.00

Additional Fees:

  • $1500 for the USCIS Education and Training Fee (if the employer has 25 or more full time employees) or $750 for employers with fewer than 25 full time employees
  • $500 for the USCIS anti fraud fee
  • The $500 USCIS Anti Fraud Fee and the $1500 or $750 USCIS Education and Training Fees are not required for H1b renewals/ extensions for the same employer.

Reference

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

“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.”