Schedule A Fast Track — Because 'Schedule A' foreign workers can obtain a green card without first having to go through the entire labor certification process, the process for obtaining a green card for qualified nurses or physical therapists can be much quicker than for occupations that do require labor certification.
— To qualify for Schedule A streamlined processing, a physical therapist must possess all the qualifications necessary to take the physical therapist licensing examination in the state in which he or she proposes to practice physical therapy. Physical therapists may also fall within the meaning of "foreign health care worker" and also require certification by an entity similar to the CGFNS. However, no such entity has been designated for physical therapists. The USCIS will apparently grant waivers of INA 212(a)(5)(C) until an appropriate certification body has been approved for each particular health care occupation.
— The labor certification process, which requires a very extensive test of the U.S. labor market, has been waived for professional nurses. Thus, applying for a green card option for a foreign nurse may be the preferred option. To qualify for Schedule A processing, a professional nurse must meet either or both of these two alternate requirements: The nurse must have passed the Commission on Graduates in Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Examination; or The nurse must hold a full and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the state of intended employment. A "professional nurse'' is a person who applies the art and science of nursing, including principles derived from the physical, biological, and behavioral sciences. Professional nursing generally includes making clinical judgments about the observation, care, and counsel of persons requiring nursing care; administering medicines and treatments prescribed by a physician; and participating in activities to promote health and prevent illness in others. A study program for professional nurses generally includes theory and practice in clinical areas such as obstetrics, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, and medicine.
CGFNS Examination Although the Department of Labor regulations do not require registered nurses to have passed the CGFNS examination if they hold a full and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the State of intended employment, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 excludes foreign health care workers (such as registered nurses) from the United States unless they have passed the CGFNS examination.
Many prospective U.S. employers apply directly for a green card for foreign nurses because there is no requirement to first obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor. Some nurses may qualify for H1B visa status if their positions required at least a bachelor's degree. However, many nursing positions do not require a bachelor's degree, making the H-1B visa category somewhat difficult to obtain.
A "physical therapist'' is defined as a person who applies the art and science of physical therapy to the treatment of patients with disabilities, disorders and injuries to relieve pain, develop or restore function, and maintain performance. The physical therapist uses physical means such as exercise, massage, heat, water, light, and electricity, as prescribed by a physician or surgeon.
The H-1B visa is available when the occupation requires a bachelor's degree. Physical therapists are generally eligible for an H1B visa, since the bachelor's degree is generally a standard requirement for that occupation in the United States. If you are a physical therapist in another country, you must first submit your educational credentials to a U.S. state therapy board for a temporary license or permit. (A list of state therapy boards is available on the Federal of State Boards of Physical Therapy website). Once you have a permit, you can apply for an H-1B visa to work in the United States. Once you enter the United States, you will have to take the state licensing exam and then renew your H-1B visa.