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Information for Internationally Educated Physical Therapists

To become licensed to practice physical therapy in the U.S., there is a process all international therapists must undergo.

The first step in the process is to have his or her educational credentials reviewed. The licensure applicant must submit his or her educational credentials for review to an independent agency approved by the jurisdiction in which the applicant intends to practice as a physical therapist. In some cases, state boards may handle the credentials evaluation process internally.

It is through the credentials evaluation process that the state board determines whether the applicant's education is equivalent to that of a bachelor's degree in physical therapy, a four year university program in the United States. Once the applicant's credentials are approved, the person is eligible to take the physical therapy board examination. BE SURE TO CONTACT THE STATE LICENSURE BOARD TO OBTAIN INFORMATION REGARDING LICENSURE WITHIN THEIR JURISDICTION.

Upon successful completion of the exam and fulfillment of other board requirements, a license will be awarded allowing the applicant to practice in that jurisdiction only. In order to practice in another jurisdiction, you will be required to repeat the credential review process and some jurisdictions may require that you retake a licensure exam for their region. BE SURE TO CONTACT THE STATE LICENSURE BOARD FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Work authorization is required for employment in the United States. Physical therapists have the option of applying for a temporary non-immigrant visa, called the H-1B visa, which allows them to practice as physical therapists only. If there is an employer willing to sponsor the applicant for an immigrant visa or permanent residence (green card), this is another option that may be considered but the labor certification process takes longer. For information on visas, please contact the US Department of Justice's Immigration and Naturalization Service.

For more detailed information on the licensure and employment process, we recommend the publication entitled Introduction to US Health Care and Physical Therapy Resource Guide (Order No. I-04). This publication provides important information that ranges from immigration and licensure process to the practice of the profession in the United States.

In next issue...

About credential evaluation services and their addresss.......Be sure to check in next month

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