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Hammond Law Firm on Nurse Immigration

PTs: Masters or Bachelors?

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In the last week or two there have been a rash of RFEs issued on PT H-1 cases. The USCIS has reached a determination that the US' standard for entry into the PT occupation is a Masters degree. Their determination is based upon the Occupational Outlook Handbook's most recent edition.

This is inconsistent with most state's licensing board's determinations. Most states will issue licenses to international PTs even if they only hold Bachelors degrees. Under the law the determining factor is with the licensing boards and not with the OOH.

The states outsource educational eligibility determinations to third-party educational evaluators who evaluate the education, usually on a case by case basis. The evaluations consider the entire educational curriculum of the candidate in order to determine whether or not the education is equal to a standard US education. Most states will issue licenses to internationally trained Bachelor degreed PTs, especially to those licensed prior to 2002. CGFNS, one of the educational evaluators used by the states uses this 2002 cut-off date. FCCPT uses a proprietary in-house tool to evaluate whether or not the education is equal to a US degree.

HLG is working with AILA to educate the USCIS on this issue. AILA today is presenting the issue to the California Service Center. We are optimistically hoping for a positive result in the near term.

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  1. Judy Koster's Avatar
    I have had a nightmare with the CSC on a premium process for a PT H1-B. The first inkiling I received that something was seriously wrong was when I received an ITD stating that the beneficiary was not licensed as a pt in California. Oh, no, I shot back, she has never had any intention of practicing in the State of CA, that employer and job were in Chicago, IL and the street name of where the intended employment was to take place was "California."

    Round 2, case reopened and ITD follows stating that the pt beneficiary had to include an Approval Notice from the State of Illinois stating that the pt had been approved to take the IL Licensure exam. (there had been an earlier Notice of Approval, but as the approval period is only for 3months, it had expired before a visa would have been issued. Pt had tried to obtain a visa to go to Hawaii to sit for the exam during the earlier approval period, but was denied a visa to do so.

    3. Last week I received a NOD revoking the Approved I-129
    stating that since the PT was not licensed to practice in the state of IL, she did not qaulify under H1-B

    But note, that the IL law on PT licensure, a copy of which was sent to the CSC and not mentioned once in the denial, clearly states that if the intended PT has met all requirements to practice in the State of IL, that that PT may practice fully under the supervision of a licensed PT "...until the next examination is given for physical therapists ... and the results have bee received by the Department and the Department has determined the applicant's eligibility for a license."

    Though provided, these regulations were ignored by CSC, as well as other documents provided such as the March 21, 2008 Donald Neufeld FAM Memo on this very subject.

    Now my client's expected to pay another $585 to file an appeal wihtin 30 days for an issue that should never have arisen? So frustrating..

  2. Ryan Davis's Avatar
    Just to put a silver lining on this for foreign educated PT's stuck in EB-3 Retrogression:

    If a PT has a masters degree, but is sponsored by an employer than only requires a bachelor degree for the position; couldnt the PT now argue that by the USCIS logic they are now eligible to be considered as Second preference?

    I know this does not help out PTs without advanced degrees, but maybe some MS prepared PTs hired as entry level PTs could accelerate their process.
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