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How Foreign Healthcare Workers Can Relocate to the U.S.

How Foreign Healthcare Workers Can Relocate to the U.S.

AllHealthcare.com, UnitedStatesVisas.gov, USCIS.gov

Apply for Health Care Worker Certification

A health care worker certification identifies and documents that a foreign health care worker has met minimum requirements for training, licensure, and English proficiency in order to be able to fulfill their professional role as a(n):



Licensed practical nurse, licensed vocational nurse, or registered nurse

Occupational therapist

Physical therapist

Speech language pathologist and audiologist

Medical technologist (clinical laboratory scientist)

Physician assistant

Medical technician (clinical laboratory technician)

Who Must Obtain a Health Care Worker Certification?

Any non-U.S. citizen coming to the United States for employment as a health care worker (other than a physician) cannot be admitted unless he or she presents a certificate from either the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) or a certificate of equal standing from an organization with equivalent credentials. These requirements apply to both immigrant and nonimmigrant applicants. Regarding visa classification, nonimmigrant health care workers will most likely be in H-1C, H-1B, J, O, or TN non-immigrant categories. Any non-immigrants coming to receive training in a health care occupation will not be required to obtain certification. Such health care workers will most likely be in F-1, J-1 (aliens coming to undertake a training program in a medical field) and H-3 nonimmigrant classifications. Please note that each of these visa classifications has additional requirements. Please go to our Nonimmigrant Visa or our Immigrant Visa Classification pages for more information on visa categories.

Are Nonimmigrants Subject to the Health Care Worker Certification Requirements?

Yes, as of July 26, 2004, if a nonimmigrant is seeking to be admitted to the United States, is changing status, and/or is requesting an extension of stay, he or she must provide evidence of health care worker certification if the primary purpose for coming to or remaining in the United States is employment in one of the affected health care occupations. Previously, under section 212(d)(3) of the Act, the CIS and the Department of State waived Health Care Worker certification requirements for nonimmigrants, while requiring it for immigrants. After careful consideration of the statute and legislative history, it has been determined that nonimmigrants are also subject to the certification requirements.

Which Organizations Are Currently Authorized to Issue Health Care Worker Certificates?

The following organizations are authorized to issue certificates for the following health care occupations:

• The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) is authorized to issue certificates to all 7 health care occupations.

• The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy is authorized to issue certificates for occupational therapists.

• The Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy is authorized to issue certificates for physical therapists.

Labor Certification

A person whose occupation requires a labor certification must have prearranged employment in the United States.

Individual Labor Certification

The applicant must complete DOL Form ETA-750B, Statement of Qualifications of Alien, and send this completed form to the prospective employer who completes Form ETA-750A, Application for Alien Employment Certification, Offer of Employment. The prospective employer submits both forms to the local office of the State Employment Service in the area in the United States where the work will be performed. The employer will then be notified by the appropriate regional office of the DOL of its approval or disapproval.

Schedule A Designation

The Department of Labor has made a schedule of occupations for which it delegates authority to USCIS to approve labor certifications. Schedule A, Group I, includes physical therapists and nurses. Schedule A, Group II includes aliens of exceptional ability in the sciences and arts (except performing arts). To apply for Schedule A designation, the employer must submit a completed, uncertified Form ETA-750 in duplicate to USCIS along with the I-140 petition.

Labor Market Information Pilot Program

The Immigration Act of 1990 provides for the DOL to establish a Labor Market Information Pilot Program which will define up to ten occupational classifications in which there are labor shortages. For aliens within a listed shortage occupation, a labor certification will be deemed to have been issued for purposes of an employment-based immigrant petition. USCIS can provide further information.


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