To obtain Permanent Residence based on employment for a physical therapist the following steps must be completed:
The employer must file the USCIS Form I-140 immigrant visa petition with USCIS.
Step 1: I-140 Filing
The I-140 petition involves and must prove that the beneficiary possesses the minimum qualifications required to fill the position being offered; and, that the employer has the ability to pay the offered wage.
Documents Needed by the Physical Therapist:
- Bachelor Degree (or higher) Diploma and Transcripts
- Permanent license to practice in the state of intended employment,
- A letter or statement, signed by an authorized state physical therapy licensing official, stating that the applicant is qualified to take that state’s written licensing examination for physical therapists.
- If outside the U.S.: A VisaScreen Certificate is needed from CGFNS or FCCPT. Note that the VisaScreen Certificate is not required until after the I-140 is approved and the Physical Therapist is applying for the Immigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy or is applying for Adjustment of Status in the U.S.
The I-140 petition can be prepared and filed immediately.
The preparation includes
- Filing and receiving the prevailing wage determination from the DOL (approx. 5-6 months)
- Posting the Notice of Filing at the work location for 10 business days then waiting 30 calendar days for internal applicants to apply for the position. If there are no qualified, interested internal applicants then the I-140 petition is filed with USCIS.
- Complete and sign Forms ETA 9089 and I-140
- File the I-140 Petition and supporting documents with USCIS.
Supporting Documents for the I-140 Physical Therapist Schedule A filing:
- ETA 9089
- Prevailing Wage Determination
- Notice of Filing
- Evidence of beneficiary’s qualifications (Diploma, Transcripts, State PT License)
- Evidence of employer’s ability to pay: Most recent company tax return and beneficiary’s most recent paychecks/W-2)
Step 2: I-485 Adjustment of Status Filing, or, Consular Processing Filing.
Upon approval of USCIS Form I-140, the beneficiary may be eligible to apply for Consular Processing at the United States Embassy in his/her home country, or Adjustment of Status with USCIS in the United States.
The I-485 petition / Consular Processing can only be filed when the priority date is current. The priority date is the date that USCIS receives the I-140 filing. The State Department publishes the Visa Bulletin each month that determines when cases with certain priority dates may be filed.
A Physical Therapist with a:
4 Year Bachelor Degree in Physical Therapy or closely related field, or U.S. equivalent, and,
Unexpired State Physical Therapy License, or,
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.
Processing Time – I-140:
It normally takes approx. 4 to 6 months from the time the process is started to filing the I-140 petition with USCIS. This is due to the Prevailing Wage Request (3-4 months) and the Notice of Filing requirement (1.5-2 months).
Premium Processing is available for the I-140 petition. Premium Processing involves paying an expedite fee to USCIS in exchange for a 15 day processing time from USCIS. Normal processing time at USCIS for the I-140 petition is roughly 4-9 months.
If an employer has a Physical Therapist in H-1B status and it is getting close to the 6th and final year of eligibility, Premium Processing is a good idea. This is because USCIS allows the employer to extend the H-1B visa status beyond the normal 6 year limit if the beneficiary is in possession of an approved I-140.
In order to apply for the I-485 petition / Consular Processing, the Physical Therapist must possess a Physical Therapist Type II certificate issued by the FCCPT Visa Credential Verification.
Because the I-140 filing involves the ETA 9089 Labor Certification form, the regulations prohibit the beneficiary from paying the attorney fees or USCIS fees related to the I-140 petition. The beneficiary is allowed to pay for fees related to the I-485 petition / Consular Processing.
I-907 Premium Processing (optional): $2,500