Professional nurses and physical therapists are classified as shortage occupations under the Department of Labor’s “Schedule A”. This classification enables an employer to sponsor a foreign national for permanent resident status without the need to demonstrate a lack of U.S. worker availability through recruitment and the filing of a PERM Application for Permanent Employment Certification. An employer may directly file an I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with USCIS to permanently employ a foreign national in a professional nurse or physical therapist position. Prior to filing the I-140 Immigrant Petition the employer must obtain a prevailing wage determination from the Department of Labor, post a notice for 10 consecutive business days at the work location(s) regarding the position, and undergo a 30 day waiting period following the end date of the posting of the notice.
A professional nurse is defined as “a person who applies the art and science of nursing which reflects comprehension of principles derived from the physical, biological and behavioral sciences. Professional nursing generally includes making clinical judgments involving the observation, care and counsel of persons requiring nursing care; administering of medicines and treatments prescribed by the physician or dentist; and participation in the activities for the promotion of health and prevention of illness in others. A program of study for professional nurses generally includes theory and practice in clinical areas such as obstetrics, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry and medicine.”
The types of nursing positions that qualify under Schedule A include Registered Nurses, Director of School of Nursing, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Office or School, Nurse Supervisor or Instructor, and Nurse Practitioner.
The types of nursing positions that do not qualify under Schedule A include Licensed Vocational Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Certified Nurse Assistants, and Nurse’s Aides.
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, using physical means, such as exercise, massage, heat, water, light, and electricity, as prescribed by a physician (or surgeon).” Schedule A does not include physical therapist aides who provide physical therapy services under the supervision of a physical therapist.
A Schedule A I-140 Petition filed with USCIS must include a prevailing wage determination, a completed and signed poster notice, an executed ETA Form 9089 Application for Permanent Employment Certification in duplicate, and evidence of the employer’s ability to pay the proffered wage.
For nurses the I-140 petition must also include a copy of the nursing degree or diploma, a copy of the nurse license from country where the nursing degree was obtained, and proof that the foreign national (a) has received a CGFNS certificate, (b) holds a permanent, full, and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the state of intended employment, or (c) has passed the NCLEX-RN.
For physical therapists, the I-140 petition must also include a copy of the physical therapy degree and academic transcript and proof that the foreign national is eligible to take the physical therapist licensing examination or holds a permanent physical therapist license in the state where the foreign national will be employed
Both nurses and physical therapists must have a valid visa-screen certificate to obtain permanent resident status.