Working with Outside Counsel for Permanent Residence

University departments who decide to pursue an employer-sponsored permanent residence petition (except those 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.

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)

ISSS is a counseling resource for departments and individuals regarding visa submissions and provides a variety of employment-based visa services. In addition, ISSS prepares and files H-1B and E-3 petitions and extensions, and petitions for permanent residence for tenure-track faculty.

ISSS holds the PERM (Labor Certification) account for the University and sets up the appropriate sub-account 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 Marissa Hill-Dongre.

Using Outside Counsel

Departments and employees often use outside counsel to prepare and file employment-based petitions. Employees and departments using outside counsel for employment-based visa petitions are required to follow these steps:

Permanent Residence (“Green Card”)

University employees who are foreign nationals are often interested in using their University employment as the basis for an application for legal permanent residence, or “green card.” ISSS and the OGC have developed criteria for deciding which positions are appropriate for permanent residence applications.

  • 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 permanent residence – either through the 3-step PERM process, outstanding faculty or researcher (EB-1), national interest waiver (EB-2), or other criteria – and outside counsel will be retained, 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 H-1B and O-1 petitions (see above).

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

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 is a standard form signed by the University and gives outside counsel authorization to represent the University in the immigration matter. The OGC is the unit authorized to sign the G-28 form on behalf of the University. This is the only form the OGC signs in immigration matters.

Before the G-28 form is executed by the University, outside counsel must complete and return the University’s standard internal Certification for Representation form. The exchange of these forms typically is handled directly through the OGC.

All other forms except the 9089 PERM form are signed by the department program head or the dean. Marissa Hill-Dongre is the only person at the university authorized to sign the 9089 PERM form.

  • G-28: Signed by OGC
  • 9089: Must be signed by Marissa Hill-Dongre
  • I-129: Signed by department (program head or dean)
  • I-140: Signed by department (program head or dean) or Marissa HIll-Dongre

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: June 4, 2021