Tuesday, July 27, 2010

California Dreaming

On July 28, the California Board of Physical Therapy will hold its Quarterly Board Meeting in Sacramento, California. The agenda includes a Board discussion on the Actions Taken By the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) to Suspend Testing for NPTE Exam Candidates from Specific Countries.

The Meeting is open to the public. If you are in or around the Sacramento area, you should attend. If you do not attend, you should send an email to the Board explaining your position.

If California is not convenient for you, perhaps New Jersey is. New Jersey’s Board of Physical Therapy meets today. If not New Jersey, then which state’s Board meeting can you attend to make your position known?

I am in the process of gathering dates for all major states. Here is the list that I have so far:

New Jersey – July 27, 2010
Arizona – July 27, 2010
California – July 28, 2010
Florida – August 5, 2010
Maryland – August 17, 2010
Illinois – October 2010

If you need model letter and/or talking points to help you frame your communications, please email me or Cindy. Also, if you know of other state’s Board meeting dates, please let us know by commenting or emailing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Philippine Ambassador weighs in

Willy C. Gaa, the Philippine Ambassador to the United States has written a strong letter to FSBPT Director William Hatherill condemning the FSBPT’s recent testing ban on Philippine, India, Egyptian, and Pakistani graduates. In the letter Ambassador Gaa said that the testing ban was “arbitrary” and “a blanket indictment” on the credibility of all Philippine Physical Therapists. He calls for the FSBPT to revoke the testing ban and to work with the Philippine government to address the problem of review center abuses.

Ambassador Gaa outlined efforts that the Philippine legislature has taken to ensure the integrity of standardized tests, including a fast-track bill to give broader authority to the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to regulate review centers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FSBPT "reaffirms" its decision

A recent posting on the FSBPT website says that the FSBPT Board has “reaffirmed its prior decision” to suspend graduates of PT programs in the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Egypt. The website posting does not indicate why the decision was revisited, what criteria went into the decision, and whether the Board seriously considered revoking its prior decision.

The posting does indicate that the FSBPT Board is directing its staff to quickly produce the FSBPT-YRLY, although it does not expect that the FSBPT-YRLY will be available earlier than the “latter part of 2011”.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Federation Discrimination?

As was mentioned in the Monday posting, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy immediately has barred graduates of Physical Therapy university programs in the Philippines, India, Egypt and Pakistan from taking the U.S. National Physical Therapy Exam. Since our post on Monday more news has come out:

- The ban impacts anyone who has received their first professional degree from a school in the four named countries. For example, an applicant presently in a United States Masters PT program would be barred from taking the NPTE if s/he previously received a degree from a Philippine university.

- The Federation has been involved in a lawsuit in the Philippines for several years. The lawsuit is based upon past incidents of alleged cheating.

- The “cheating” appears to be allegations of tests-takers memorizing questions and then regurgitating the questions to other students.

- There does not appear to be any allegation that any universities in the four countries engaged in any malfeasance. The cheating allegations are limited to certain test takers and certain review centers.

- More countries may be added to the banned list.

While the Federation needs to preserve the integrity of the test, the Federation’s remedy is overbroad and perhaps illegal. US law does not allow discrimination on the basis of national origin. US law also assures all of due process and equal protection.

The Federation will likely argue that their approach – banning graduates of Universities in the Philippines, India, Egypt and Pakistan -- is not a ban on nationals of those countries. This appears to be a distinction without a difference. The vast majority of university graduates are nationals of the country where the university is located.

MU has been working with industry leaders to craft a reply and a response to the Federation. We ask that Therapists and employers of Therapists contact their
State Board of Physical Therapy to protest the Federation’s actions. If the State Boards hear from enough people, they may prompt the Federation to change their approach. Please take a minute to contact your State Board.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

August Visa Bulletin released

The Department of State has just released the August 2010 Visa Bulletin. There has been a significant promotion of priority dates.

The relevant dates are:

EB-1 – all current
EB-2 – all current, except China (01 MAR 06) and India (01 MAR 06)
EB-3 – all 01 JUN 04, except China (22 SEP 03), India (01 JAN 02), and Mexico (U)

Notes on specific countries:

China: China EB2 improved almost four months since the July Visa Bulletin. China EB3 unfortunately is now separate from the EB3 All Chargeability.

India: India has made significant progressions in the last two months. There was excellent progress in India EB2, which has now jumped 13 months since the May 2010 Visa Bulletin from 01 FEB 05. India EB3 is now in 2002 for the first time.

Philippines: The Philippines’ Priority Dates remain with the All Chargeability countries, which is a good sign. The EB3 has leapt ahead in recent months.

Monday, July 12, 2010

FSBPT Suspends NPTE Examination for Graduates of Overseas Programs

In a stunning development, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) today announced that it immediately has suspended National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) testing for all graduates of schools located in Egypt, India, Pakistan and the Philippines. India and the Philippines are, by far, the two largest suppliers of foreign-trained Physical Therapists. Graduates from schools in these countries will not be allowed to sit for US examinations for at least one year and probably longer.

The new exam, which is just for the foreign-trained, is to be called the NPTE-YRLY. FSBPT expects to launch the NPTE-YRLY in the fall of 2011. The FSBPT intends to offer the NPTE-YRLY only once per year, at select test sites to be identified at a later date.

The FSBPT website says that this action is a result of “ongoing security breaches by significant numbers of graduates of physical therapy schools from certain foreign countries.” Two years ago, the FSBPT eliminated the exam from being offered overseas. Today’s action disallows the exam from being offered in the United States as well.

FSBPT’s actions are the result of “compelling” evidence that reflects “systematic and methodical sharing and distribution of recalled questions by significant numbers of graduates of programs in the affected countries, as well as several exam preparation companies specifically targeted to these graduates.” FSBPT’s website says several exam preparation companies engaged in a variety of illegal actions, including widespread sharing of hundreds of live test items.
MU will pass along more news as we receive it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

2010-11 OES Wages Have Been Released

On July 1 of every year the US Department of Labor’s Foreign Labor Certification Data Center is updated to reflect the 2010-11 USDOL Prevailing Wages (PW). These PWs generally increase and can impact future Green Card Applications and H-1B Petitions.

Correct application of the PW rules is critical in the H-1B process. Among other wage rules, H-1B Beneficiaries may not be paid less than the Prevailing Wage. There is no affirmative duty to raise an existing H-1B workers’ wage unless an amendment or extension to the H-1B is filed. H-1Bs are the visa of choice for many healthcare occupations including, Physicians, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, some nursing roles, and many other allied occupations.

For green card cases, employers should make sure that their postings and advertising processes reflect these increased wages, unless a PWD is already in place. Failure to account for the increased Prevailing Wages could prove fatal to some green card cases.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CGFNS encourages on-line filings

CGFNS recently announced that paper Applications will incur an additional $75 charge. In order to avoid the charge, applicants are encouraged to file their Applications on-line at CGFNS Connect.

CGFNS is one of the major credentials evaluators for internationally-educated students. Their credentials evaluation services include registration and licensure of nurses and other health care professionals, such as Physical and Occupational Therapists.

Perhaps their best-known service is the Visa Screen, which is the CGFNS-branded Healthcare Worker Certificate. US immigration law mandates that all Applicants for nonimmigrant and immigrant visas obtain a Healthcare Worker Certificate prior to entering the US.
Several private companies are approved to issue the HWC, although most are limited by occupation. For instance, FCCPT issues HWCs for Physical Therapists; NBCOT issues HWCs for Occupational Therapists. CGFNS issues HWCs for all seven relevant occupations:
  • Licensed practical nurse, licensed vocational nurse, or registered nurse
  • Occupational therapist
  • Physical therapist
  • Speech language pathologist and audiologist
  • Medical technologist (clinical laboratory scientist)
  • Physician assistant
  • Medical technician (clinical laboratory technician)