Foreign national faculty members need to obtain U.S. Permanent Residence (PR) status to work permanently at the University. An individual's temporary H-1B status expires after 6 years.
ISSS works with new tenure-track and tenured faculty members (with classroom teaching duties) and their departments to apply for permanent residence*. There are several paths to employment-based Permanent Residence, but in almost all cases we use the category/process known as Labor Certification**.
It is important that departments notify ISSS at the time that a tenured/tenure-track job offer is made, because the Labor Certification application (the first step in the process) has an application deadline that is based on the employment offer date.
Labor Certification Process
1. Prevailing Wage Determination and Labor Certification
This application requires compiling detailed documentation to demonstrate that a competitive recruitment and selection process was followed that led to the hiring of a foreign candidate. This application must be submitted no later than 18 months from the date of the original offer letter. (Please take note of this date!). The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reviews this application to assure that recruiting requirements were followed, including the placement of an ad in at least one national journal and a demonstration that the individual hired was the "best qualified" applicant. ISSS tracks and prioritizes these cases based on the employment offer date, and ISSS will reach out to the department and the individual faculty member when it is time to begin the process.
It takes approximately 6 months for ISSS and the department to prepare and file the Labor Certification. This includes approximately 3-4 months for the DOL to issue a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD). ISSS must receive the initial required documents from the department in order to file the PWD. While the PWD is pending, ISSS works with the department to gather and prepare the required materials for the Labor Certification.
Once the PWD has been issued, ISSS will submit the complete Labor Certification to the DOL. The DOL is currently taking approximately 3-4 months to process Labor Certification applications.
There are no DOL fees for the PWDs or Labor Certification. At the point that ISSS submits the Labor Certification to the DOL, ISSS charges the department an administrative fee of $3,000 for the Labor Certification process.
2. I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
After the Labor Certification is certified, ISSS submits the I-140 petition for an immigrant visa to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The I-140 is based on the University’s certified Labor Certification and corresponding documentation of the faculty member’s qualifications.
USCIS accepts Premium Processing fees for I-140s. Premium processing can be requested with the initial I-140 petition or at any time thereafter. If the I-140 is submitted with Premium Processing, a decision will be made on the application in 15 days (plus mailing time). I-140s without Premium Processing are currently being adjudicated in 6-8 months. USCIS adjudication can be delayed by Requests for Evidence (RFEs).
USCIS Filing Fees
- I-140: $700 (must be paid by the department)
- Premium Processing: $2,500 (optional - may be paid by department or employee)
3. I-485 Adjustment of Status
This is the final step of the permanent residency process, and it must be completed by the foreign faculty member themselves. Upon approval of the I-485, the applicant’s status will officially be adjusted to permanent resident/green card holder. ISSS does not compile or file the I-485, because it is the employee’s personal application rather than an application of the University. Employees may consider retaining outside counsel for guidance on the I-485, and they can discuss this with ISSS. The faculty member’s spouse and minor children can also file I-485s at this stage. The I-485 requires a medical exam, birth and marriage certificates, etc.
If the I-485 is completed when we are ready to submit the I-140, ISSS can send both applications to USCIS at the same time.
- I-485: $1,225 for each applicant (may be paid by department or employee)