Yesterday’s Superior Court decision in Georgia is an exciting step towards permanently reinstating physical therapist’s ability to test. The Georgia court declared the testing prohibition invalid and unenforceable in Georgia, and the Georgia State Board are permanently enjoined from enforcing the testing prohibition and “taking any action that would prohibit, delay, frustrate, or hinder candidates eligible for physical therapy licensure under Georgia law from registering for or taking the NPTE”. Furthermore, the Georgia State Board may not impose any different requirements or restrictions on candidates from the Philippines, Egypt, India, and Pakistan then any other country.
On July 20, 2010, due to suspected cheating by one or more of the test takers the Federation of State Board of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) prohibited otherwise qualified graduates of physical therapy programs in the Philippines, India, Pakistan, and Egypt from taking the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). Georgia’s State Board governing the license of physical therapists (PTs) adopted this resolution as well as the other State Boards. As a result PTs from these countries had no way to obtain a license. Especially as they are typically only given a 1 year of H-1B time to obtain a full unrestricted license. Many PTs planning on testing during the summer of 2010 or fall prior to the end of their H-1B visas had to return home. They will also have a tough burden to overcome to try and obtain another H-1B visa to work in the U.S. without a license after not obtaining one the first year.
Fortunately the FSBT eventually partially reinstated the ability to test for candidates from these countries. FSBT came up with a new exam the NPTE-i specifically for individuals from these countries and the exam is offered on 2 different dates this year. May 25, 2011 (registration closes February 22) and December 5, 2011. Whereas individuals sitting for the regular exam may take it when they choose all year round.
If the testing restrictions continue hopefully other states will follow Georgia’s lead and establish testing and licensing equality for PTs from all countries.
A complete copy of the NPTE Georgia Court Decision is available here.
Here is more information on immigration options for physical therapists