Occupational Therapy is a specialty occupation (requiring a minimum of a Bachelor's degree). Therefore Occupational Therapists are eligible for H-1B visa. However, unlike Physical Therapists and Nurses, Occupational Therapist is not a Schedule A occupation. Foreign-born Occupational Therapists, who wish to apply for permanent residency in the US, first must go through the labor certification process.
Process for Occupational Therapists to apply for H-1B status:
- Educational Requirements
Occupational Therapists must have the equivalent to a U.S. master's degree or higher in occupational therapy. The OTED® process allows applicants without a U.S.-accredited entry-level master's degree in occupational therapy to submit their OT education for an exam eligibility review. The criteria for submitting an OTED application requires an occupational therapist to complete education deemed comparable to current U.S. entry-level educational standards.
- Complete the OTED®
For NBCOT Examination Certification all Occupational Therapists must be initially certified to obtain a state license. First, the candidate must obtain Occupational Therapist Eligibility Determination (OTED®) approval letter. The purpose of this is for the NBCOT to evaluate the candidate's education credentials.
For a description of OTED® process click here.
For the OTED® Application click here.
If the OTED® application is approved, you must take and pass the English Language Proficiency Exams
If the OTED® application is approved, the candidate may apply for NBCOT Certification examination.
- Once the candidate passes the NBCOT Examination, he or she can apply for Visa Credential Verification Certificate (VCVC)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, has granted NBCOT approval to issue healthcare worker certifications for foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to work in the field of occupational therapy.
To apply for the VCVC click here.
All states require an occupational therapist to be licensed in the state of intended employment. While requirements for licensure vary slightly among the states, all states require graduation from an accredited educational program and a passing score on the national licensing examination - known as the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR).
The general guidelines for obtaining an OT license can be found at the following website for the
American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
Additionally, the NBCOT website provides the contact information and website for each OT State Regulatory Board. The state specific licensure requirements can then be found at the State Board’s individual website.
Candidates should be advised to visit the state licensing board's website to research the licensure requirements.
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