Foreign Nurses and Physical Therapists – Options for Legally Working in the US

There is currently a shortage in the United States of nurses, physical therapists and other healthcare workers. This blog post answers questions about temporary and permanent immigration options for nurses and physical therapists.

Work Visas for Nurses

Some nurses could qualify for H-1B 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.

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. 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.

Work Visas for Physical Therapists

Physical therapists are generally eligible for an H-1B visa, since the bachelor’s degree is generally a standard requirement for that occupation in the United States. The H-1B visa is available when the occupation requires a bachelor’s degree. 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.

Green Card Options for Nurses and Physical Therapists
Nurses and physical therapists have already been designated by the U.S. Department of Labor to be occupations for which there is a national shortage. Therefore, they are allowed to file for their green cards by showing that they have a permanent job offer to work as a nurse or physical therapist in the United States, they speak English sufficiently well, and they meet other criteria. They can work at a facility anywhere in the United States. They do not have to work in any kind of “shortage” location.

To learn more about obtaining permanent residency as a nurse or physical therapist, please review information on the Schedule A for Nurses or Physical Therapists. Please email us for more information.

Immigration Assistance
For assistance in applying for a temporary work visa or permanent residency as a nurse or physical therapist, please contact attorney Jacob Sapochnick at or call 619 819 92 04