Working with Outside Counsel

ISSS provides a variety of employment-based visa services, including preparation and filing of H-1B, TN, and E-3 petitions and extensions, and petitions for permanent residence for tenure-track faculty.

Using Outside Counsel

Employees and departments using outside counsel for employment-based visa petitions are required to follow these steps:

Non-Immigrant Petitions and Extensions

Where a department desires to assist or sponsor a foreign national in obtaining a non-immigrant visa (H-1B, E-3, TN, O-1) and outside counsel will be retained, the department must write a brief letter, memo, or email to the Office of General Counsel (OGC) and copied to the employee containing the following information:

  • The name of the employee
  • The position the employee will hold
  • What immigration service or visa is being sought
  • The name and contact information of the outside counsel to be used
  • How the attorney fees will be processed for the matter (see “Billing and Retainer Agreements” below)

The Department Chair or Division Head will also need to complete an Export Control Attestation form for non-immigrant employees (following the template developed by the OGC and the University’s Export Control Officer) relating to whether or not the visa applicant will have access to confidential information of a technical nature relating to goods or technologies that are useful for both civilian and military purposes. The form must be returned to the OGC (Ruilin Li with a copy to Kathy Bitterly).

Permanent Residence (“Green Card”)

University departments who decide to pursue an employer-sponsored permanent residence petition (except for Special Handling Labor Certifications (EB-2) for tenure-track teaching faculty, which are processed by ISSS) must work with the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a private immigration attorney. For employer-sponsored permanent residency (but not self-sponsored petitions such as EB-2 National Interest Waiver), the following criteria must be met:

  • The employment must be long-term, indefinite in duration. The department must be able to commit to at least 3 years of employment and funding starting from the date the department informs the OGC in writing of their intention to sponsor the employee.
  • The position must be non-training in nature. Training positions (for example, postdoctoral associates, medical residents, student employment) are by definition temporary, and unsuitable for permanent residence applications.

When a department desires to assist or sponsor a foreign national in obtaining employer-sponsored permanent residence – either through the 3-step PERM (Labor Certification) process, outstanding faculty or researcher (EB-1B), or other criteria – and outside counsel will be retained by the University, the department must write a brief letter, memo, or email to the OGC (and copied to the employee) clarifying that the position meets the above criteria. The letter must also contain the same information listed for non-immigrant petitions (see above).

ISSS holds the PERM (Labor Certification) account for the University and sets up the appropriate sub-account (used by the outside attorney) for each PERM application. As such, ISSS is responsible for keeping a copy of the file in case of a Department of Labor (DOL) audit. In order for ISSS to be sure it has its records up to date in case of an audit, all 9089 PERM forms for the University are signed by Molly Hoffman.

For information about the permanent residence process and other visa applications, visit the USCIS website.

Please note: Due to frequent budget cuts, some departments are forced to consider eliminating the position of an employee offered permanent residence. Please be aware that when you commit to the minimum three years of employment in this support letter, you must stand by that commitment of three years of employment. Failure to do so could result in a grievance being brought by the employee against your department disputing any layoff due to the fact that this letter committed to a minimum of three years of employment for them.

Immigration Forms

The G-28 gives outside counsel authorization to represent the University in the immigration matter  and must be signed by the OGC. This is the only form the OGC signs in immigration matters.

Before the G-28 form is executed outside counsel must complete and return the University’s internal Certification for Representation form. This is handled directly through the OGC.

All other forms except the ETA Form 9089 PERM form(for labor certification) should be signed by the department head or the dean. Molly Hoffman is the only person at the university authorized to sign the 9089.

  • G-28: Must be signed by OGC
  • 9089: Must be signed by Molly Hoffman
  • I-129: Signed by department head or dean
  • I-140: Signed by department head or dean
  • I-485 Supplement J: Signed by department head or dean 


LCA Public Access Files for H-1B/E-3 cases filed by attorneys should be maintained by the sponsoring department (not ISSS).

Billing and Retainer Agreements

Where University funds will be used to pay attorney fees, the unit should obtain an estimate of fees and costs associated with filing the petition. After the department or division has reviewed the outside counsel’s fee/cost schedule and has decided to cover all or a portion of those expenses, the following are acceptable ways to proceed:

  1. University of Minnesota funds may be used to pay the law firm directly.
  2. The employee pursuing an immigration petition may contract directly with an outside law firm.
  3. A third party (for example, UMP) may contract with and pay the outside law firm’s fees and costs.

The OGC will provide additional guidance on the options above. Please note that funds go through the OGC only when the University is paying the outside firm directly (option #1 above). Otherwise, the OGC need only be apprised of the financial arrangements connected with the matter; it does not need to be actively involved.

Last updated: December 27, 2023