Who Is the Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT)
The Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT) is a non-profit organization created to assist the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (formerly INS) and U.S. state licensing authorities by evaluating the credentials of Foreign Educated Physical Therapists (FEPTs) who wish to immigrate and work in the United States. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine whether FEPTs have acquired credentials that are equivalent to those required of Physical Therapists (PTs) educated in the U.S. The FCCPT has 1) created uniform standards for evaluating credentials; 2) developed an infrastructure of systems, processes and human resources to consistently apply these standards to all FEPT applicants; and 3) established an effective system for reporting findings to applicants, state licensing agencies, and the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (formerly INS).
FCCPT will provide services to the individuals and organizations we serve that are convenient and easy to access. We will provide these services to our clients in the shortest possible time period.
Our (FCCPT’s) mission is to protect the public by the evaluation and authentication of international credentials. We accomplish this through collaborative efforts to establish standards of excellence and provide high quality and timely services.
FCCPT is the credentialing agency required by all U.S. physical therapy licensing jurisdictions and is recognized as a leading authority on the credentialing of foreign educated physical therapists.
Foreign educated physical therapists can rely on FCCPT to fairly and consistently evaluate their credentials utilizing uniform standards and processes in an objective manner. Findings and conclusions are provided to the applicant when reports are issued. FCCPT staff will assists jurisdictions and applicants to identify deficiencies and options for supplementation.
Immigration, licensing and other regulatory authorities can rely on the same uniform standards and processes to produce consistent, clear opinions on the credentials of foreign educated physical therapists. Our report format and supporting documentation clearly explain how an opinion was reached and what steps were followed in the evaluation process. Authorities can also rest assured that sound authentication procedures have been followed in verifying source documents utilized in a credentials evaluation.
Employers, immigration attorneys, health plans and others may benefit from the services of FCCPT to verify credentials of foreign educated physical therapists for quality assurance, visa application, contracting or accreditation.
The facts are:
- FCCPT is one of only two organizations given authority by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (formerly INS) to prescreen FEPTs and to issue qualifying certificates for immigration.
- FCCPT is the ONLY qualifying organization dedicated exclusively to the review and evaluation of physical therapist credentials for immigration and licensure.
- FCCPT keeps abreast of standards for physical therapy practice and licensure, educational curricula and foreign educational systems. FCCPT has the knowledge, ability and infrastructure to evaluate credentials on a consistent basis, authenticate information sources and produce consistent, reliable outcomes.
- FCCPT has created uniform credentialing standards and developed the systems, processes, and human resources necessary to consistently apply these standards.
- FCCPT has developed its credentialing standards in close collaboration with academia, practicing physical therapy professionals, and licensing authorities.
- FCCPT’s quality assurance program is overseen by a panel of physical therapy educators and physical therapists active in regulation.
- FCCPT is the only qualifying organization whose leadership is comprised of physical therapy educators, regulators, public representatives and practicing physical therapists.
Relationship with the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT)
FCCPT is an independent non-profit organization founded by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) in 1998. Many of the standards in use by FCCPT were developed by FSBPT and it members. While distinct and separate from one another, both organizations share the fundamental mission of public protection for consumers of physical therapy services. FCCPT carries out its mission through the evaluation of the credentials of foreign educated physical therapists. Both organizations are largely comprised of physical therapists and others active in physical therapy education, practice and regulation in the United States.
The People of FCCPT
FCCPT is managed and operated by a team of dedicated individuals whose knowledge, experience and commitment is unsurpassed. Functional areas include a Board of Directors, a Quality Review Committee and Staff. Each plays an important role in providing the highest quality of service to our customers.
FCCPT Board of Directors
The FCCPT Board of Directors comprises five voting members and one board liaison from FSBPT. The Board’s role is to guide the overall development and direction of the organization. The Board conducts monthly meetings.
Quality Review Committee (QRC)
The FCCPT Quality Review Committee also comprises five voting members and one board liaison from FCCPT. The Committee oversees Board-approved policy as it applies to the credentials review process and administers a Board-approved quality assurance program. In addition the Committee assists in the recruitment and orientation of a network of approved credentials reviewers, continuing education updates and monitoring network performance.
FCCPT staff compromises a Director and two full-time credentials evaluators and applications coordinators. These individuals are responsible for daily operations and for enacting the rulings of the Board of Directors under direction from the Chief Executive Officer. A Chief Financial Officer is charged with maintaining a system of accounting, reporting, financial controls, payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable, and with performing treasury functions.
The Director has overall responsibility for the development of the organization, its services and capabilities, and its relationships with key constituent/client groups. The credentials evaluators manage the application, authentication and credentialing functions. A network of outside contracted physical therapists with credentialing experience serves to review professional education and render an opinion on reviews requiring a coursework evaluation. All other verification of credentials is performed in-house by staff.
In order to protect the American public, the U. S. government enforces laws that govern the conditions under which aliens can immigrate, live and work in the United States. This includes those foreign-educated aliens who wish to work as physical therapists. To work as a physical therapist in the United States, the foreign-educated physical therapist (FEPT) must posses a valid occupational visa issued by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (formerly INS), and a physical therapy license, issued by each state where the FEPT wishes to work. To obtain an immigrant visa, the FEPT must obtain a certificate from an authorized credentialing organization that verifies and authenticates that the FEPT is qualified to work in the U.S. as a physical therapist. To obtain this certificate, FEPTs must:
- Meet the same substantially equivalent educational standards required of U.S.-educated physical therapists
- Demonstrate English proficiency and
- Have their licenses/registration verified.
The Congress of the United States, in conjunction with the Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice, working through the INS and with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Education, proposed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), Public Law 104-208, which was signed into law on September 30, 1996. Section 343 of IIRIA pertains to all foreign-educated aliens, other than physicians, who are requesting permanent immigrant status and permission to work in the United States as a health-care professional. This includes individuals who are seeking immigrant visas or are requesting an adjustment of status as a permanent U.S. immigrant. Section 343 temporarily does not apply to individuals who are seeking a temporary work visa with a non-immigrant status.
To obtain permanent immigrant status, Section 343 requires that candidates obtain a certificate from an authorized, independent credentialing organization verifying their qualifications. This certificate, which must be presented to the INS consular officer, or in the case of an adjustment of status, to the U.S. Attorney General, verifies that the candidate has met the following minimal requirements:
- The candidate’s competence in both oral and written English must be adequate for the work to be preformed, as demonstrated by scores on one or more nationally recognized , standardized assessments (TOEFL, TSE, TWE);
- The candidate’s education must be substantially equivalent to that required of a U.S. graduate in the same profession, based on transcripts from source institutions.
- If a candidate holds a foreign license, it must be valid and unencumbered as authenticated by the issuing or validating agency. and
- If a majority of states licensing the profession in which the candidate intends to work, recognize a predictor test for success on the profession’s licensing exam, the candidate must have passed the predictor test of the licensure exam.
In order to obtain an occupational work visa from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (formerly INS), candidates must apply for and obtain a license from the individual state or states in which they intend to work.
The licensing of physical therapists in the United States is a right and responsibility of each individual state. Physical therapists educated in the U.S. must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) and meet other criteria determined by each state in order to be licensed. FSBPT is the organization responsible for the development and administration of the NPTE for 53 state licensing jurisdictions. Foreign educated physical therapists must also undergo a credentials evaluation and meet other criteria in order to obtain a license to practice physical therapy in most U.S. licensing jurisdictions.
As a result of Section 343, INS experienced a backlog of FEPTs requesting occupational visas. On April 18, 1998, the FSBPT Board of Directors, aware of the backlog, approved the development and implementation of an interim, screening program to certify FEPTs. FCCPT was established as the corporation responsible for operating the program.
On October 14, 1998, the INS published the first interim rule for Section 343 of the 1996 IIRIRA. Credentialing organizations seeking INS authority to evaluate foreign-trained health-care workers and issue certificates must demonstrate a sustained level of demand for foreign-trained workers and show an established track record in providing credentialing services in the occupation.
The rule provided legal notice that the INS had determined that the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) and the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) had met these requirements and were granted authority, on a temporary basis, to issue certificates to foreign-educated nurses and occupational therapists, respectively. This interim rule became effective on December 14, 1998.
Again on April 27, 1999, the INS published a new interim rule for Section 343 authorizing FCCPT and CGFNS to issue prescreening certificates to FEPTs seeking admission as permanent immigrants to the United States. This includes the FEPT who holds a temporary visa and is seeking a change in status to permanent immigrant. Those seeking temporary admission as non-immigrants to the United States are not covered by this interim rule. This new INS interim rule became effective on June 29, 1999.
Origins of FCCPT
FCCPT is a nonprofit, member corporation registered in the state of Delaware on May 1, 1998. It commenced operation in January 1999. The sole member of FCCPT is the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). FCCPT is independent of any organization that functions as a representative of the physical therapy occupation, such as a professional organization. Services are not related to any recruitment or placement organization and fees are not based on whether an applicant receives any benefit (license or visa) from an evaluation performed by FCCPT.
FCCPT was formed, in part, as a response to problems identified by INS regarding a backlog of FEPTs requesting occupational visas and in need of a credentialing certification. FCCPT saw an opportunity to fill this need and recognized that a screening program could also be developed to meet the licensure requirements of many state licensing jurisdictions, at the same time meeting the needs of educational institutions for determining proper academic placement for foreign applicants. With this in mind, FCCPT’s screening program was developed “to create an objective, standardized assessment of an FEPT’s educational and professional credentials.” This assessment could then be used by FEPTs in applying for occupational visas, state licensure or academic placement. On April 27, 1999, FCCPT was authorized by INS to review FEPT credentials and issue certificates to those who were qualified. By this time, FCCPT had already begun the process of marketing their services to the member boards of FSBPT and to educational institutions.
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