Corporate Practice Prohibitions
Due to prohibitions in New York State law against the "corporate practice" of the professions, certain corporations must be authorized to employ licensed professionals and offer professions services to the public. Corporations that are providing professional services must apply for a certificate to continue providing those professional services.
The Education Law restricts the practice of a profession to individuals who are licensed or otherwise authorized to provide professional services (e.g., permit holders and students under supervision) and to entities (e.g., professional businesses, hospitals, public schools) that are authorized to employ licensed professionals or qualified persons. Licensure laws which restrict the practice of a profession established under Title VIII of the Education Law require that the delivery of professional services be provided only by authorized individuals or entities authorized to employ licensed professionals or otherwise qualified persons.
In order to be issued a certificate waiving corporate practice restrictions, the entity must meet requirements in Education Law section 6503-a or 6503-b, as set out in the law and Commissioner’s Regulations. This includes a copy of the certificate of incorporation, Regents charter or other legal document that sets out the purposes for which the entity was formed. An entity seeking a waiver must demonstrate a need for the services proposed to be offered, in accordance with the specific requirements outlined in the application instructions. Finally, each officer, director, and/or trustee of the entity must submit an attestation that indicates any current or prior arrests, convictions or professional disciplinary actions that could determine the individual’s good moral character.
When an entity is approved for a certificate under Education Law 6530-a or 6503-b, the certificate is valid for three years and must be displayed in each setting in which professional services are provided in New York. It must be renewed every three years to continue providing these services. A certificate is subject to the authority of the Board of Regents under section 29.18 of the Rules of the Board of Regents. An entity is subject to the same professional misconduct provisions and has the same due process rights as a licensed professional or professional business entity.
The certificate waiving corporate practice restrictions is not an exemption from licensure. An entity holding a certificate may only employ individuals who are:
licensed and registered to practice in New York;
limited permit holders under supervision of a qualified, licensed professional employed by the entity; or
interns completing a graduate program that leads to licensure.
Aiding and abetting the unauthorized practice of a restricted profession may result in charges under New York law.
Behavioral Health Providers (6503-a)
Chapters 130 and 132 of the Laws of 2010 amended the Education Law in regard to settings that are authorized (1) to provide social work, psychology, and mental health practitioner services and (2) to employ individuals licensed or authorized to practice the professions of social work, psychology, mental health practitioner, medicine, and nursing. In 2014, section 6503-a was amended to include the applied behavior analysis professions. In order to provide these professional services, certain not-for-profit, religious and education corporations must obtain a certificate or have some other legal authority to do so. The law authorizing certificates from the corporate practice restrictions may be found in section 6503-a of the Education Law.
Entities Eligible for a Certificate to Provide Behavioral Health Services
The certificate is intended to allow a not-for-profit, religious or education corporation, that is not otherwise authorized, to employ licensed professionals and provide services that are restricted under Articles 153, 154, 163 and 167 of the Education Law. A corporation may be authorized under an operating certificate, license, or contract with certain government entities and, in such case, would not need a certificate from the Department. However, an entity may need to apply for a certificate to provide services through a program that is not authorized under such operating certificate, license, or contract.
By law, the certificate is not intended to replace the authority of other State agencies, such as the Department of Health or Office of Mental Health, that have oversight of health and mental health services. In reviewing applications for a certificate, the Department will collaborate with other State agencies to minimize the risk of an unqualified entity receiving a certificate to provide professional services. There are also provisions in the law defining eligible entities, professional services that may be offered by entities, oversight by the Board of Regents, and attestations by each officer and director of the entity determining good moral character. For more information, see Education Law section 6503-a.
Behavioral Health Providers that Do Not Require a Certificate
The law identifies a number of entities that do not require a certification waiving the corporate practice prohibitions. Those include:
any entity with an operating certificate issued under the Public Health Law, the Mental Hygiene Law, or in accordance with comparable procedures by a State, federal or local government agency;
an institution of higher education that provides a program leading to licensure in medicine, nursing, psychology, social work, applied behavior analysis or the mental health professions to the extent the services being provided are within the scope of the registered program;
an institution of higher education that provides counseling to students, staff, and family members of students and staff;
a university faculty practice corporation;
hospice authorized under the public health law, pursuant to Chapter 441 of 2011;
district attorney office that provides crime victim services, authorized by Chapter 358 of 2012;
a public school or charter school, as defined in Education Law XXXX;
programs and services operated, regulated, funded, or approved by the Department of Mental Hygiene, the Office of Children and Family Services, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the State Office for the Aging, and the Department of Health or a local governmental unit as the term is defined in section 41.03 of the Mental Hygiene Law or a social services district as defined in section 61 of the Social Services Law. Additionally, these programs and services are not required to receive a certificate to employ individuals licensed under articles 153, 154 or 163 of the education law. Please note that this provision applies only to such programs and services and does not extend to the entity. As such, if an entity also offers professional services or employs professional licensees in programs that are not directly operated, regulated, funded, or approved by one of the above agencies, they are required to obtain authorization for such programs and/or services; or
other entities identified by the Board of Regents, provided that such entity is otherwise authorized by law to provide such services.
Special Education Schools and Early Intervention Agencies (6503-b)
The purpose of Chapter 581 of the Laws of 2011 is to reconcile the provisions of Title VIII of the Education Law that prohibit corporate practice of certain licensed professions with the provisions of section 4410 of the Education Law and Title 2-A of Article 25 of the Public Health Law that contemplate that special education schools and early intervention agencies be able to provide multi-disciplinary evaluations, related services, and early intervention services recommended for a student.
A special education school or early intervention agency provider may employ or contract with licensed professionals authorized under Title VIII of the Education Law to provide professional services. Title VIII defines the practice of more than 50 professions, but only certain health professions are qualified to provide the applicable components of multi-disciplinary evaluations, related services, and early intervention services recommended for a student. These professions are:
Licensed Master Social Work (and may only provide clinical social work services including psychotherapy, under supervision of an licensed clinical social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist)
Licensed Clinical Social Work
Licensed Mental Health Counseling
Licensed Creative Arts Therapy
Physical Therapy (a physical therapist assistant may only practice under the supervision of a physical therapist)
Occupational Therapy (an occupational therapy assistant may only practice under the supervision of an occupational therapist)
Nursing (registered nurse or nurse practitioner or licensed practical nurse who may only practice under direction of a registered professional nurse or licensed physician, dentist or other licensed health care provider legally authorized under Title VIII and in accordance with the Commissioner's Regulations).
Medicine (physician, physician assistant, or specialist assistant)
Applied Behavioral Analysis (a certified behavior analyst assistant may only practice under the supervision of a licensed behavior analyst).
Where required by law, a licensee, limited permit holder, or student in an approved field experience as part of a license-qualifying program, must be supervised to provide services authorized under the law. An entity may contract with a professional corporation (PC) or professional limited liability company (PLLC) to provide services authorized by the certificate.
Entities Eligible for a 6503-b Certificate from the Office of the Professions
An approved program may be formed as an education corporation, or with the consent of the Commissioner as a:
business corporation that has the operation of an approved program or another special education school as a primary purpose;
limited liability company;
professional service limited liability company or a foreign professional service limited liability company in accordance with the applicable provisions of article twelve or thirteen of the limited liability company law;
registered limited liability partnership or registered foreign limited liability partnership in accordance with article eight-B of the Partnership Law.
In addition, a group of appropriately licensed or certified professionals may be formed as a professional services corporation established pursuant to article fifteen of the Business Corporation Law or as a professional service limited liability company, foreign professional service limited liability company, registered limited liability partnership or registered foreign limited liability partnership in accordance with article eight-B of the Partnership Law.
A professional services corporation (PC) may only provide services in the profession in which the member(s) of the entity are licensed. For example, a hypothetical PC named "Occupational Therapists For Everyone, PC" may only provide occupational therapy services. It cannot offer physical therapy services, speech services or any other professional services. Also, because it is allowed only to provide professional services, it can only manage the services that it provides. These restrictions on professional service corporations are not changed by section 6503-b of the Education Law.
Generally speaking, a professional service limited liability company (PLLC or LLC) may provide professional services in more than one profession provided that the company includes an "owner" (i.e., member) licensed in each of the professions in which the company will offer services. For example, the hypothetical LLC, Health Professionals, has seven members: an acupuncturist, an audiologist, a nurse, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a psychologist, and a speech-language pathologist. Only professionals licensed in one of the areas that the PLLC is authorized to practice may become a member or owner of that entity. However, under a certificate from the Department, the hypothetical LLC may provide services in all of these professions and, in order to conduct multi-disciplinary evaluations and to provide early intervention services or related services, it may employ or contract with licensed professionals to provide clinical social work or mental health counseling services, even though none of its "owners" are licensed in those two professions.
It should be noted that the provisions in section 6503-b that allow a limited liability company to contract or employ with individuals licensed in other professions will affect those professions that would not otherwise be allowed to offer services in more than one profession. The Business Corporation Law, Limited Liability Company Law, and Partnership Law do not allow licensees in certain professions to form a professional entity with members licensed in a different profession. These restrictions apply to the professions of medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, licensed clinical social work, mental health counseling, psychoanalysis, creative arts therapy, marriage and family therapy and applied behavior analysis. A hypothetical LLC, “Clinical Social Work for All”, whose members are all licensed clinical social workers, under a certificate issued pursuant to 6503-b, may employ or contract with physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, nurses, and physicians to conduct multi-disciplinary evaluations and to provide early intervention services or related services, as defined in the law. This hypothetical LLC could not employ or contract with physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, or other licensed professions to provide professional services to any other client population.
An approved program formed as a professional service limited liability company or registered limited liability partnership may be authorized to provide special education itinerant (SEIT) services or other educational services not involving the practice of a profession under Title VIII of this chapter, and, upon receiving a certificate pursuant to section 6503-b of this chapter, may employ or contract with individuals licensed or otherwise authorized to practice, or with a professional service corporation, partnership or other entity legally authorized to practice any profession under Title VIII of this chapter in which the entity would not be authorized to provide professional services under the applicable provisions of section twelve hundred three or subdivision (a) of section thirteen hundred one of the limited liability company law or sections 121-1500 or 121-1502 of the Partnership Law, provided that such contract is within the scope of the Department's approval and is only for the purpose of conducting a multi-disciplinary evaluation of a preschool child suspected of having a disability or a preschool child with a disability or providing related services specified in the individualized education program of a preschool child with a disability.
Special Education Schools and Early Intervention Providers That Do Not Require a Certificate
The law defines a “special education school” that is eligible for a certificate and states that a certificate is not required for a special education school that is operated by a:
board of cooperative educational services;
municipality, state agency or other public entity.
The law further states that it shall not be construed to require a childcare institution that conducts multi-disciplinary evaluations or provides related services through an approved private nonresidential school operated by such childcare institution to obtain a certificate if such school obtains a certificate pursuant to this section.
A special education school or early intervention agency that holds an operating certificate from a federal or state government agency that authorizes the entity to provide professional services may not require a certificate to employ or contract with licensed professionals to provide multidisciplinary evaluations or early intervention services or related services, as defined in section 6503-b of the Education Law. The operating certificate must grant the entity the authority to provide all the professional services offered by the entity; a contract from a government entity is not sufficient to grant the authority to provide professional services.
The following information is intended to address the most frequently asked questions about changes in the Education Law and Commissioner’s Regulations. This is based on a summary of the Education Law and does not constitute legal advice. You should discuss any questions with an attorney.
What should I do if I'm not sure if my professional corporation or entity needs a certificate?
Your corporate counsel should review your certificate of incorporation, consent from the Commissioner of Education, or other legal basis for the entity to operate in New York, to determine if a 6503-a or 6503-b certificate is required. You can access information about charters for educational corporations and consents from the Commissioner of Education on the Office of Counsel's website. Information about Charters and Regents Certificates of Incorporation for Education Corporations may be found at www.counsel.nysed.gov/charters/ and information about Consents is at www.counsel.nysed.gov/consents.
Applicants for Licensure must complete experience in a lawful manner
Experience for licensure must be completed in a legally authorized setting. If an applicant for licensure who is eligible for a limited permit is seeking employment with a prospective employer, the applicant should ask whether or not the entity requires a 6503-a/6503-b certificate waiving the corporate practice restrictions or if the entity is otherwise authorized to provide professional services, as defined in Title VIII of the Education Law.
If the setting is not authorized, any experience that an applicant completes may not be acceptable, so it is in your best interest of all parties to verify the setting’s authority before accepting employment.
Is there a fee for the 6503-a certification?
The Education Law does not require a fee for the 6503-a certification.
Is there a fee for the 6503-b certification?
The Education Law section 6503-b requires a $345 application fee and $260 triennial registration fee for certification to offer professional services in approved early intervention and special education programs.
How can licensees and members of the public verify if an entity is authorized to employ licensed professionals?
The Department will issue to a qualified applicant a three-year certification under Education Law section 6503-a or 6503-b. The entity must display the 6503-a or 6503-b certificate in each setting where professional services are provided to the public. The public will be able to use the Office of the Professions website to determine whether an entity has been issued such certification and when it expires. An entity that has been authorized by the Department will receive a renewal notice from the Office of the Professions every three years and must register to continue offering professional services. A listing of entities holding a 6503-a or 6503-b certificate can be found on this site.
How does the 6503-a or 6503-b certificate affect the ability of a corporation to provide professional services?
A general business corporation (GBC) usually is not authorized to employ licensed professionals or offer services to the public. The 6503-a and 6503-b certificate allow a qualified entity to employ licensed professionals or contract with licensed professionals or professional entities, to provide services that are restricted under Title VIII. The licensed professionals and professional entities are responsible for services provided. The corporation holding the certificate is subject to the definitions of professional misconduct under the same provisions of Education Law and Regents Rules and has the same rights as a licensed professional.
Does each director and officer of the entity seeking a 6503-a or 6503-b certificate have to provide a home address, telephone number, and e-mail information?
When we are processing applications, including the moral character attestation, we may need to request clarification or additional information. Please provide the best way to contact you, whether this is your home or work address, telephone number, and e-mail address, or if we should contact you through the entity’s contact person.
How does an entity notify the Office of the Professions about changes required by the law and regulations?
Section 59.14(i) states that an entity holding a 6503-a or 6503-b certificate must notify the Department within 60 days of any change in the information supplied to the Department. If there is a change in the name of the entity, the primary address, or in designated personnel (director, officer or trustee of the entity, including the CEO, COO, CFO or Executive Director who is authorized to act on behalf of the entity) these changes must be submitted on the 6503-a or 6503-b Entity Form COI. Please note that each new director, officer, trustee, Executive Director, CEO, COO or CFO must also submit a Moral Character Attestation (Form CE-1).
If there is a change in the professional services to be offered by the entity, this should be reported on a revised Application for AUTHORIZATION (Form CE). If the entity adds or deletes sites at which services are provided, a Request for Additional Setting Form (Form CE-2) must be submitted for each site.
Does the entity have to notify the Office of the Professions prior to any change?
No, the entity should submit the required documentation after any changes have been made to key personnel, including officers, directors, and trustees; the name or primary address of the entity; the professional services to be offered by the entity; or the addition or deletion of additional sites. However, the entity may need the approval of another state or local government agency to make certain changes. Timely notification to the Office of the Professions will allow us to contact the entity in the future.
Can an entity that has received a certificate cancel or return the certificate?
When a certificate is issued, it is valid for three years and must be renewed every three years to authorize the entity to employ licensed or authorized persons to provide professional services. If the entity stops providing the services authorized by the certificate, it may choose not to register for the next registration period. If the entity chooses to register the certificate in the future, it will have to request a registration application from the Office of the Professions and meet all requirements in effect at that time.
Where can I access more information?
There is additional information about the application process and required information on the application forms, available on this site. Questions about the status of an application submitted may be emailed to 6503Certificate@NYSED.GOV.