Posted on: April 5th, 2011
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Over the past several months, the US Consulate in Manila has been denying visitor visas to physical therapists and other health professionals seeking to enter the United States to take licensing examinations necessary to qualify for H-1B visas. The State Department has now amended the Foreign Affairs Manual to clarify for consular officers the rules regarding licensing. The FAM now reads as follows:

9 FAM 41.53 N4.1 General Licensure Requirement for H Nonimmigrant
(CT:VISA-1635; 03-31-2011)

The requirements for classification as an H-1B nonimmigrant professional may or may not include a license because States have different rules in this area. If a State permits aliens to enter the United States as a visitor to take a licensing exam, then USCIS will generally require a license before they will approve the H-1B petition. However, some States do not permit aliens to take licensing exams until they enter the United States in H-1B status and obtain a social security number. Therefore, a visa should not be denied based solely on the fact that the applicant does not already hold a license to practice in the United States.