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While we’re quite optimistic that retrogression will be solved in the near future, HLG is aware that many clients and friends have questions about retrogression, the H-1 cap, and other related issues. With that in mind, HLG offers this Retrogression FAQ. Please feel free to distribute and share this with your clients and friends.


Q: What is the latest on retrogression for Schedule A (Registered Nurses and Physical Therapists) I-140 petitions?

A: Immigrant Visas are still currently unavailable for Registered Nurses and Physical Therapists. Hammond Law Group is actively involved in the lobbying effort to obtain a legislative solution. Several bills have been proposed in Congress that would either provide either additional visas for nurses and physical therapists or exempt them from the quota entirely. We will make an immediate announcement when this legislation is passed, but until that time, updates can be found on the Retrogression Advocacy Blog of the Hammond Law Group, LLC website at:

Q: Will it really take four or five years for me to get the green card?

A: Hammond Law Group, LLC firmly believes that there will be a legislative resolution to the problem of retrogression for Registered Nurses and Physical Therapists in the very near future. Therefore, we believe that these visas will be available again soon. When the same situation occurred a few years ago, additional visas were made available within six months. Presently, visas have been unavailable for only a few months. As noted above, legislation has already been proposed in Congress that would either provide additional immigrant visas or exempt Schedule A occupations from the quota entirely. Finally, as a reminder, Schedule A occupations are those designated as national shortage occupations by the United States Department of Labor. Therefore, there is strong motivation for this type of legislation to be passed.

Q: If I am a Physical Therapist, should I file for the “green card” or for the H-1B?

A: That decision will depend upon a number of factors. First, it is important to note that because “Physical Therapist” requires at least a Bachelor’s degree, the position is eligible for H-1B status. However, there is also an annual quota for H-1Bs. There are currently only 65,000 H-1Bs available each fiscal year. An H-1B petition can be filed up to six months in advance, therefore, H-1B petitions for the next fiscal year (October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008) will be accepted beginning April 1, 2007. Regardless of when that petition is approved, the Physical Therapist cannot enter the United States for employment until the first day of the new fiscal year – October 1, 2007.

The green card case involves three steps: obtaining an approved I-140 from the USCIS; National Visa Center “NVC” processing; and the immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Consulate. If the employer starts the green card process now, the I-140 can be approved and the approved case will be sent to the NVC. This process may take a few weeks or up to six months (depending upon which service center handles the case and whether premium processing is used). However, when the approved case is forwarded to the NVC, the case will be placed on hold. The National Visa Center is not currently “pre-processing” Schedule A cases (they are not issuing Fee Bills or collecting the required documents generally referred to as “Packet III). Processing will not resume until visas are available. Therefore, it is uncertain when the Physical Therapist will be able to enter the United States based upon a green card case. This will depend on when retrogression is resolved and how long it then takes to obtain an interview.

While there are other issues to be considered (for example, a spouse only obtains employment authorization in the green card process) generally the decision is based upon which process will allow the Physical Therapist to enter the United States sooner. At this point we know that the Physical Therapist will not be able to enter in H-1B status until October 1, 2007. If an individual has not yet filed the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) it is very likely that the H-1B process will be faster. Note, however, that this depends on when retrogression is resolved and how long it takes the Consulates to schedule interviews for all of those waiting during retrogression. If retrogression is resolved quickly and the employer uses premium processing for the I-140 it is at least theoretically possible (although unlikely) that the green card could be as fast or faster than the H-1B process. This decision changes when the H-1B cap is reached.

Q: What do I need to file for H-1B status?

A: To file for H-1B status, the Physical Therapist will need an offer of employment in the United States and will need a Physical Therapist license in the State of intended employment at the time of filing. A Healthcare Worker Certificate will be required at time of the H-1B nonimmigrant visa interview. This is an important distinction between the ‘green card’ process and the H-1B process. For the ‘green card’ process the Physical Therapist needs only a letter from the state of intended employment indicating that he or she is eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). The actual U.S. PT license is needed for H-1B status. If the Physical Therapist does not have the required license then H-1B status is not available. Some individuals are unable to obtain visitor visas to the United States to take the NPTE. Those individuals may need to file for the green card rather than H-1B status.

Q: How will I know if my case will be approved before the H-1B quota is reached?

A: For purposes of the H-1B quota, it is the date of filing that is important not the date of approval. The USCIS will announce when they have received enough petitions to reach the quota and therefore no more petitions will be accepted. Last year, this announcement came in late May and once the announcement is made, the USCIS will not accept any further petitions. When the USCIS confirms that have received enough petitions to reach the quota, they will announce that petitions filed by that date will be included within the quota. We expect that the quota may be reached even earlier this year and are recommending that all H-1B petitions be ready to file on April 1, 2007.

Q: What if I do not have my license by April 1, 2007?

A: There are some exceptions, for example H-1B status may be granted for a one year period if the applicant is issued a temporary license. Additionally, if you have met all requirements and are waiting for license issuance or you are licensed in another state and seeking endorsement, it may be advisable to file the H-1B petition on April 1, 2007 in light of the quota. Each case will need to be reviewed individually. We recommend that you discuss this issue with your attorney.

Q: Can I file for both H-1B status and the green card?

A: There is nothing that prohibits a Physical Therapist from filing for H-1B status and a green card. For example if an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) has already been filed, the Physical Therapist can still seek and obtain H-1B status. If the petitions are filed by different employers, we recommend that you discuss this issue with your attorney.

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20 Responses to this article

polcey February 20, 2007 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

How about the dependent(s) (spouse) of the recipient of approved Schedule A (Nurse) petition, which already received the Greencard last Oct 17, 2006, how long will it takes for the dependent with approved I765, to get its own greencard?

Anonymous February 20, 2007 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

Hi. May I ask why NVC is not “pre-processing” cases anymore as to oppose to what they did on the last retrogression?

Wouldn’t “pre-processing” cases while still in retrogression make their work easier in the long run.

Thanks to HLG.

Anonymous March 16, 2007 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

Is there any chance for my mom to get a visa eventhough she hasn’t submitted her medical requirements?. Then have the clinic submit it later?. It is the last requirement needed in order for her to have a visa.
But due to the slow actions of St. Luke’s Clinic Secretaries, retrogression is moving fast and she might be able to wait a few months more. They said that they are still typing it?.
Why is that so?. Is it because they lack of employees?.

diana April 7, 2007 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

i am a registered nurse. i passed the nclex rn exam last january. i am license in california state but i cannot claim my license card because i do not have s SSN. i arrived here last march 3 in new york. what can i do so i can work here legally and change my status and practice my profession as a RN? THANKS MUCH

Anonymous April 10, 2007 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

i have the same case as diana’s. i am a british citizen by naturalization. how complicated would it be for me and my husband to work there legally?

Anonymous April 20, 2007 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

i passed my nclex rn in california one year and a half now. I am about to renew it but unfortunately i do not have SSN. I currently have I-140 application that has been approved and waiting til this retrogression be lifted. Can I go as a tourist in USA and apply for SSN as a legal alien not able to work in order to have SSN and have my RN license to renew? Will this affect my I-140 status? Thank you very much

Anonymous July 5, 2007 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

Hi I am a registered nurse from india.I have cleared RN in feb2007.MyI 140approval has come in june 2007.Now again retrogression is there a very bad news.What we can hope now will we able to work in usa or not Thanks you very much

jmb January 18, 2008 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

Hi! Great day ahead of us. I’m a nurse from the Philippines. My I140 has been approved in Dec 2007.But retrogression has not been lifted yet. If in case retrogression will be lifted, I just hope that all of us will have our visas. Good luck and God speed to all nurses!

nafisa January 22, 2008 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

hi im a registered nurse in the philippines.The DOLE made my final determination last july 5 2007 as a nursing assistant in one of the nursing home in ALABAMA.Which was applied last july 28,2004.The USCIS sent my I-797C NOTICE of ACTION Last july 30,2007.Am i affected with the retrogression?thanks

Kuppabai January 23, 2008 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

Hi May I ask you when the retrogression for the nurses get over?. Iam a nurse completed all the examination to enter into USA. My I 140 Visa has filed in Nebraska Centre. Kindly send the imediate report of retrogression.

Vidhya May 29, 2008 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

Can I apply for a green card while I am on OPT?

Jolanta June 25, 2008 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

What with Schedule A – Registered Nurses ???I am so depresed RN from Poland !!! I am in USA for 3 years. I have passed the NCLEX exam 2 years ago, I have obtained NM Nursung Licence in August 2006 and NJ Nursing Licence in December 2007. I also have passed hte TOFEL exam and IELTS . My Vissa Screen Certyficate is expired in February, 2012. I spent so much money on that things !!!!
And what ??? I am still waiting , because of retrogression . I have to keep my legal status on visa F1 , so I go to stupid English School and I work as housekeeper and care giver.
CONGRESS do something, becouce I can not waste my time any more !!! I will go to Canada or comeback to Europe !!!
What with my American Dream !!! You do not see , so many nurses is waiting for GREEN Cards , do something !!!

StudentNurseX July 15, 2008 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

Wow, there are a lot of people affected by this retrogression. Which is sad in most cases to be in limbo. But I see a big problem here is that the written posts are coming from people who barely have 5th grade level of the English language. How do you manage to work as a health care professional? I understand that you passed your English exams, but those exam obviously are very basic. You can take an exam, but you surely can’t write properly in the English language. That is definately a necessity in this country. I see a lot of poor English skills and in this country we do speak and write in English. Now, I the ones who are here and are stuck in limbo, I wish you the best of luck in getting everything taken care of. But for those who are wishing to come here, I really hope that they do put a ban on bringing in foreign nurses because there are a lot of new graduate nurses who can’t seem to find a job and they were educated in nursing here in this country. We need to take care of our own before we go looking abroad. This country doesn’t owe anything to foreigners who aren’t here yet. But I do believe that this country does need to take care of the foreigners who are currently here and who are stuck in the retrogression. Good Luck to you all!

heaven July 24, 2008 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

i cleared the Nclex-RN, but due to retrogression it seems impossible to work in USA, so will it be possible for me to marry some one in USA, get a citizenship and work in USA as a RN???????????? and can u please guide me for the same…..THANK YOU

sonam August 22, 2008 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

how long will this retrogression take place????????

74butKiCKiNG March 23, 2009 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

don't mind!pack your things & lets move 2 canada,NZ,or AUS..retro is not the primary concern of the current US gov't..pres.obama is planning for a short term nurse aide training for post secondary citizen that will fill the shortage of nurses, they will then supervised by RN..see that?believe me I read the report from obama post con…the effect?Us will not depends on foreign nurses, instead fucos on their employment probs…B@##H..!!

74butKiCKiNG March 23, 2009 Discuss on Twitter @healthcarevisas Reply

studentnurseX….you meaN there r US graduate nurses who couldn’t land a nursing jod? huh! they must be incompetent to try passing NCLEX? foreign nurses can easily skip w your standards(NCLEX), the only probs is your gov’t is afraid if foreign nurses will dominate in the future, and you uncle sam will do the work force..

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