Thursday, September 25, 2014


The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) is in the nascent stage of developing a Physical Therapy license compact.  FSBPT’s aim is to reduce regulatory burdens by allowing cross-state practice for licensed Physical Therapists.  The nursing profession has had a nursing compact since 2000.  According to FSPBT, 24 states participate in the nursing compact.

FSBPT’s Advisory Task Force has recommended a similar model to the nursing compact. 
The licensee participant must hold one valid, current, unrestricted license his or her primary state of residence, notify any remote states in which s/he will be practicing and pay a fee to the remote state.

The final language is expected to be ready for review in mid-2015.  If a state wishes to participate in the PT license compact, that state will need to pass the final language into law.  This likely requires state legislative action.

FSPBT has a series of articles and FAQs on their webpage.

Monday, September 22, 2014


The progression of priority dates in the recent few months has been exciting news for many, especially those EB-3 applicants who have been patiently waiting for their green cards for many years. 

Unfortunately the unexpected progression has swamped the National Visa Center.  The NVC is now issuing letters indicating that NVC cases will be delayed for 60 days.  Here is an excerpt from a stock form letter that our office has received in the last few days.  We have received about a dozen of these letters.

We are currently receiving an increased number of approved petitions from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. As a result, we are experiencing increased review times for documents received.

We expect it will be at least 60 days from the date we received your mail before we complete the review of your documents. We will notify you when we review your documents.

We are working to reduce these processing times and we appreciate your patience.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


The Department of State has just reduced the price that it charges for an immigrant visa NVC Fee Bill.  The new fee is $345, which is decrease of $60 from the old rate of $405.  It is a steep reduction from a few years ago when the NVC Fee Bill charge was $720. 

The new, lower fee is effective September 12, 2014.  Fees that will decrease are not refundable.  If you paid a visa fee before September 12, 2014 and that fee decreased, the NVC will not issue a refund.

Many other fees associated with the visa process changed on September 12.  Some nonimmigrant visa fees increased.  For fees that will increase (nonimmigrant fees only), Visa fees paid will be accepted 90 days after the new fees go into effect.

  • If you paid your visa fee before September 12, 2014, and your visa interview is on or before December 11, 2014, you do not have to pay the difference between the new and old fee amounts.
  • If you paid your visa fee before September 12, 2014, and your visa interview is on or after December 12, 2014, you will be required to pay the difference between the old and new fee amounts.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


The Department of State has just released the October 2014 Visa Bulletin.  This is the first Visa Bulletin of the 2015 US Fiscal Year, which begins October 1, 2014.

The Philippines EB-3 has again had a substantial progression.  It is now at October 2011, which is a four year jump in the last four months.  It remains consistent with the All Other (ROW) EB-3 date.

India EB-2 also remained at May 2009.  India EB-3 unfortunately remains stuck in November 2003.

The Chinese EB-3 number continued to move dramatically and inconsistently.  It is now at April 2009.

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Monday, September 8, 2014


The USCIS issued a Memorandum in July 2014 aimed at clarifying their position on the adjudication of H-1Bs for Registered Nurses.  The Memorandum failed at this aim.  While it acknowledged that more and more employers are requiring Bachelor Degreed Registered Nurses, it failed to give any helpful guidance to USCIS officers. 

Now AILA hasweighed in on the discussion.  In contrast to the USCIS, AILA makes several important points.  Notably, AILA points out that the Occupational Outlook Handbook, “does not foreclose, but in fact lends credibility to the claim that an employer has such a requirement.”  This is true because the OOH recognizes the evolving nature of the position.

AILA also makes another clever factual argument. 

the O*Net database provides that 66% of employer respondents require an associate’s degree, while 23% require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree as an entry level credential for a registered nurse position. Therefore, 23% of employers should be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of USCIS that a nurse is a specialty occupation.

Adding to the problem, it appears that the link to the USCIS’ July Memorandum has disappeared.  Fortunately, we have preserved a copy on our DocStoc page.

Friday, September 5, 2014


The Physical Therapy job market has long been predicted to be an area ripe for US labor shortages.  The 2014 Occupational Outlook Handbook projects that employment of Physical Therapists is expected to grow by 36 percent through 2022, which is “mush faster than the average for all occupations.”

The Conference Board’s new study From Not Enough Jobs to Not Enough Workers now reports that aging populations will cause even greater shortages than originally predicted in three targeted industries.  In a surprise to no one, healthcare is one of these three targeted industries. 

Health-related occupations. The same aging of the U.S. population that will curtail working-age population growth to as low as 0.15 percent by 2030 is also driving up demand for medical workers. At the same time, high education and experience requirements limit entry into the job market. The result is a dearth in many healthcare professions, including occupational therapy assistants, physical therapists and therapist assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives, and dental hygienists. Among doctors, optometrists and podiatrists are the specialists most at risk of shortage, with the general physicians and surgeons category not far behind.

The study has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and PT in Motion.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Musillo Unkenholt will hold a free teleconference on Wednesday September 17, 2014 at 3PM ET / 12 noon PT.  All clients and friends of the firm are encouraged to dial-in to the call.  If you would like to register for the call, please send an email to:

The agenda for the teleconference includes:
* H-1B onboarding starts Oct 1: What do employers need to do to stay compliant?
* When does my H-1B worker have to start working?  The 30/60 day rule.
* When do I have to start paying an H-1B worker's salary?
* Form I-9 compliance
* E-Verify compliance
* Managing Social Security number issues.
* Handling Professional licensure issues.
* Working with the Consulate for H-1B Visa Issuance.
* H-1B cap 2014 final numbers and projections for 2015.
* What Congress and Pres. Obama are expected to do in 2014 in employment-based immigration.

Please contact your MU immigration attorney if you have any questions about this MU Visa Advisor or any other immigration issue.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Bloomberg News BNA has published a detailed analysis of several recent H-1B visa developments, including the new USCIS Nurse H-1B Memorandum.  Several attorneys, including MU Law’s Chris Musillo, were interviewed for the article.  Bloomberg has allowed MU Law to publish a copy of the article.

The article discusses increasing H-1B denial rates in spite of the fact that no new H-1B regulations have been published by USCIS in years.  One reason for the increasing denial rates have been stricter USCIS interpretations of “specialty occupation,” based on faulty reliance of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook

Chris’ comments highlight the USCIS over-reliance on the Occupational Outlook Handbook when adjudicating H-1Bs for Registered Nurses.  Chris points out that while most nursing positions do not require Bachelor Degrees, some do.  Since some require a Bachelor’s degree the USCIS ought to look at an employer’s actual positional requirement instead of limiting review to the industry standards listed in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The Bloomberg article also discusses some recent court decisions and USCIS interpretations in light of these decisions.  

NOTE – the Bloomberg article is reproduced with permission from Daily Labor Report, Copyright 2014 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033)  <>
Bloomberg H-1B Article.pdf

Thursday, August 21, 2014


AILA has recently dialoged with the Department of State’s Charlie Oppenheim, who is the DOS’ chief for producing the Visa Bulletin.  MU Law has spoken with Mr. Oppenheim several times in the past and have always found that his projections are well thought out and very accurate.

Here are his projections based on his recent conversation with AILA:
  • The Philippine EB-3 date should continue to be consistent with the Worldwide (Rest of World) date for at least the next few months.  Usage of Philippine EB-1 and EB-2 numbers has decreased, leaving more numbers for Philippine EB-3. 
  • India EB-2 numbers should continue to be favorable, although large jumps forward should not be expected.  The current priority date for Indian EB-2 is May 2009.  Adjustment of Status applicants should be prepared to get RFEs for medical exams if their priority date is at or near that date.  Adjustment of Status applicants should be prepared to get RFEs for medical exams if their priority date is at or near that date.  

Monday, August 18, 2014


One constant challenge for immigration foreign nationals is obtaining a Social Security Number once they have entered the US.  Traditionally, the Social Security Administration (SSA) made Social Security Number cards available via in-person visits immediately or almost immediately after one entered the US.  Effective August 1, 2014, however, the SSA will no longer provide Social Security Number card printouts.  It will now take up to two weeks before the SSNs are issued.

The SSA, says that the an applicant can get an instant letter online with a personal my Social Security account, or they may continue to call the SSA toll-free to request a letter by mail.  The phone number is: 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


The Department of State has just released the September 2014 Visa Bulletin. This is the twelfth and final Visa Bulletin of the 2014 US Fiscal Year, which began on October 1, 2013. The October 2014 Visa Bulletin will begin the 2015 Fiscal Year.

The Philippines EB-3 jumped again. It is now at April 2011, which is a four year jump in the last four months.

India EB-2 also moved forward steadily. It progressed to May 2009.

The Chinese EB-3 number remained at November 2008. 

The All Other EB-3 held steady as well. It remains at April 2011. As we predicted last month, it did not progress.

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Other Workers01APR1122JUL0508NOV0301APR1101APR11

Monday, August 11, 2014


New USCIS Chief Leon Rodriguez was nominated for the job shortly after Alejandro Mayorkas accepted the positon of Deputy Secretary of the USCIS.  Director Rodriguez was sworn into the role on July 9, 2014.  Mr. Mayorkas’ tenure as Director was marked by greater engagement with the public than his predecessors.  Mr. Mayorkas regularly attended AILA functions and routinely held “town hall” style meetings with the public. 

Mr. Rodriguez seems poised to continue in this manner.  USCIS will be holding a stakeholder teleconference on Thursday, Aug. 14, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET, with USCIS Director Léon Rodríguez.

During the teleconference, Director Rodríguez will introduce himself to the USCIS stakeholder community and answer questions.  Teleconference registration details are expected shortly. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


According to a 2012 “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast,” published in the American Journal of Medical Quality, 
“With an aging U.S. population, health care demand is growing at an unprecedented pace . . . The number of states receiving a grade of “D” or “F” for their RN shortage ratio will increase from 5 in 2009 to 30 by 2030, for a total national deficit of 918,232 RN jobs. There will be significant RN workforce shortages throughout the country in 2030; the western region will have the largest shortage ratio of 389 RN jobs per 100,000.”
The situation is no better in other allied healthcare occupations.  According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook by 2022, employment of Physical Therapists is expected to skyrocket by 36 percent.  The same is true of Occupational Therapists (29 percent), Pharmacists (14 percent), and Speech Language Pathologists (19 percent). 

Contrary to some public perception, International Healthcare Professionals are not undereducated.  Prior to issuance of a visa, the International Healthcare Professional’s education, training, past licenses, and experience must be verified and proved that it is authentic and comparable to an American healthcare worker of the same type.  International Healthcare Professionals must pass English fluency exams prior to visa issuance.

International Healthcare Professionals are also not underpaid.  Because of strict USCIS and DOL wage requirements, International Healthcare Professionals must be paid the greater of prevailing and actual wages.  International Healthcare Professionals cannot have their hours reduced.  The employer must pay the guaranteed minimum hours unless the International Healthcare Professional is unavailable for work because of non-work related factors, such as the worker’s own voluntary request for time off, or in other circumstances where the worker is unable to work.

The PERM labor certification process guarantees that there are no US workers ready, willing, and able of performing the position before any International Healthcare Professional is granted an immigrant visa.  Employers cannot make International Healthcare Professionals sign onerous contracts, including those contain penalty clauses.

Recent studies are pointing to the high quality of care provided by International Healthcare Professionals and the added value that they bring to the US healthcare industry.  Patricia Cortes, Assistant Professor, Markets, Public Policy and Law, Boston University, authored a 2012 study, Relative Quality Of Foreign Nurses In The United States

She found that,
"foreign nurses, in particular Filipinos, tend to work in more demanding settings and maintain less desirable schedules - they are more likely to work in hospitals, work full-time, and do shift work, as compared to their native counterparts.
Natives are more likely to work part-time and choose jobs with standard schedules - for example, they tend to work in physicians’ offices and schools, etc. In terms of educational background, the majority of foreign nurses have at least a bachelor’s degree, whereas a larger fraction of natives have an associate degree. A more educated nurse workforce (as measured by the share of nurses in a hospital holding a bachelor’s degree) has been associated with better patient outcomes and higher nurse productivity."

Monday, July 28, 2014


Musillo Unkenholt LLC turned five years old on July 1, 2014!  It would have been impossible to have our five years of success without the hard-effort and talent of our Legal team.  In celebration of our fifth birthday and in recognition of everyone's hard work, we will closing the office at 12 noon (ET) on Wednesday July 30.  We are having a group outing at the Cincinnati Reds baseball game.  If you contact us during the afternoon of July 30, rest assured that we will promptly return your call or email on Thursday.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


USCIS has just published and released an updated H-1B Memorandum which purports to provide guidance to USCIS officers in their adjudication of H-1B petitions for Registered Nurses.  This Memorandum updates the long-standing 2002 Johnny Williams USCIS Memorandum on the same subject.  The new Memorandum does not break new ground.  It is not expected that the Memorandum will result in a significant increase in approved H-1B petitions, although its Background section helpfully reminds USCIS officers that “there are some situations, however, where the petitioner may be able to show that a nursing position qualifies as a specialty occupation”.

USCIS officers presently deny nearly all H-1B petitions for Registered Nurses, regardless of the specific facts of the petition.  The fundamental problem for RNs seeking H-1B status is that few US Registered Nurse positions in the US require a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing for entry into the position.  In order to have an H-1B approved it is not enough that the applicant holds a Bachelors’ degree; the position itself must require a Bachelor’s degree.  The Memorandum makes this clear: “Registered nurses generally do not qualify for H-1B classification” (Page 2).

Even nurses who work in units where 100% of the nurse workforce holds Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) have seen H-1B denials.  These denial opinions dismiss the employer’s facts, and simply cite to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which generally says that nursing positions do not require Bachelor’s degrees.

As the Williams Memorandum explained, the new Memorandum confirms, there are exceptions to this general rule.  For instance, the new Memorandum favorably recognizes that hospitals with magnet status, “indicates that the nursing workforce within an institution has attained a number of high standards relating to quality and standards of nursing practice” (Page 3).  The Memorandum then buries in footnote 9 a very important fact: “For example, as of January 1, 2013, 100% of nurse managers of individual units/wards/clinics must have at least a baccalaureate degree in nursing upon submission of the Magnet application.”  This Memorandum would have been improved if the author had plainly stated that Nurse Manager positions at Magnet hospitals qualify for H-1B visas.  Nonetheless, this acknowledgement should be helpful in future H-1B petitions for Magnet Hospital Nurse Managers.

Beyond this section on Magnet hospitals the new Memorandum offers little guidance for USCIS officers.  In several places the Memorandum tells officers to analyze cases on the facts of the petition and on a case by case basis, which is apparent.

The new Memorandum mirrors the Williams Memorandum in that it reminds officers that Advance Practice Nursing position are generally specialty occupations and approvable for H-1B visas.  It also helpfully recognizes that some specialties, such as critical care and peri-operative (operating room) may qualify for the H-1B.

While USCIS HQ missed an opportunity to be clearer about which RN positions were approvable for H-1B visas, the Memorandum shows that the USCIS is aware of the issue.

UPDATE: The USCIS appears to have broken the link to its Memo.  The Memo can be found on our DocStoc site.

Monday, July 21, 2014


All foreign-educated Physical Therapists must be issued a Healthcare Worker Certificate prior to receiving a temporary (e.g. H-1B or TN) or permanent visa, as per 8 CFR 212.15(c):.  Two originations are permitted to issue these HWC’s.  CGFNS issues the Visa Screen, which is also issued to qualified Registered Nurses, Occupational Therapists, and several other healthcare occupations.  FCCPT issues the FCCPT Type I Certificate.  The FCCPT Type I is only issued to Physical Therapists. 

The HWC verifies that the foreign educated Physical Therapist has (i) qualifying education, training, licensing, and experience; (ii) passed a qualifying English fluency exam; and (iii) passed the actual licensing exam (NPTE exam). 

The FCCPT recently published an update about their verification of Indian distance education.  At issue is whether the educational experience is post-Secondary education and is not continuing education.  Several criteria are now considered by FCCPT.

-                      Verification that the study center does not violate the jurisdiction territory as outlined by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
-                      Evidence that the study center is not franchised. This means that it cannot be affiliated to more than one university.
-                      Verification that the University is in charge of admissions to the distance education program.  Admissions cannot be done by study centers as per UGC regulation.

-                      That the program is authorized to be offered through distance education by the Distance Education Council (DEC). Even though the DEC has been disbanded by the UGC, the regulations stay in effect until the UGC publishes new standards.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


To qualify for an H-1B, the position must require and the employee must hold a bachelor’s degree or greater.  As a result, most nursing positions do not qualify for H-1B as a BSN is not typically required for a floor nurse position.  Nurses who are eligible for an H-1B include: a nurse educators, nurse managers, or specialty nurses where the position requires a higher level of education.

Earlier in the year, MU Law received a denial in a case for a Nurse Educator position.  The USCIS denied the petition, holding the position did not require a bachelor’s degree or greater – a requirement for H-1B status. 

After the denial, we appealed the case to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), which is the body that reviews appealed USCIS Service Center decisions.  We believed and argued that the evidence shows that the preferred credential for teaching in the academic setting is the doctoral degree.  At a minimum, nurse educators at colleges and universities must hold a master’s degree in nursing and have additional training in the science of teaching.

We have recently received word that our appeal was successful. MU successfully argued that the position of Nurse Educator requires a master’s or doctoral degree and so therefore not only meets, but exceeds, the H-1B requirements.  The appeal was sustained and the H-1B is now approved.

A nursing shortage in United States is expected to continue in  the coming years, as the US economy continues to recover and older nurses begin retiring.  This will only make the need for qualified nursing faculty more critical and the H-1B a viable option for schools looking to hire nursing faculty.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Earlier this year the USCIS proposed a rule that, if enacted will allow H-4 spouses to file for work authorization.  The rule, if passed as drafted, will allow H-4 spouses of H-1B holders to obtain EAD employment authorization.

Under the law, when a new rule such as this is proposed, the USCIS must give the public 60 days to comment on the proposed rule.  That comment period ended on Friday July 11.  The USCIS will now sort through the comments.  Computerworld notes that adoption of the proposed rule is “all but assured.”  The timing of the “assured” approval is unknown at this time.

The Computerworld article has an interesting discussion about the types of comments that have been received and how an automated tool can mine the comments for trends.  For instance, out of 6,035 non-unique comments, “453 were exact duplicates of 10 different comments.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014


The Department of State has just released the August 2014 Visa Bulletin.  This is the eleventh Visa Bulletin of the 2014 US Fiscal Year, which began on October 1, 2013.  

The Philippines EB-3 jumped again.  It is now at June 2010, which is a three year jump in the last three months.

India EB-2 also moved forward.  It progressed to January 2009.

The Chinese EB-3 number continued to move dramatically and inconsistently.  It is now at November 2008.  

The All Other EB-3 held steady as well.  It remains at April 2011.  Our sense is that it will not progress until the next US fiscal year.
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Thursday, July 3, 2014


The Philippine Nurses Association of America just held its 35th Annual Convention.  This year's Convention was held in Las Vegas, NV.  MU Law was proud to be a featured sponsor of the event, as we have for the last five years.  

Check out the MU Law Facebook page to see pictures from this year's event.

We encourage Philippine nurses to explore this great organization.