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Foreign National Employment Permanent Residency

Permanent Resident (Green Card)

Permanent Residency, often referred to as a green card, allows a non-citizen to live and work in the US indefinitely. Green card applications can be family-based petitions, National Interest Waivers, Diversity Visa Lottery, or employment based petitions. ESU supports employment-based petitions for employees meeting the following criteria:

  • Position must be full time and permanent under Department of Homeland Security definitions
  • Department must have at least 36 months of expected future funding for the position as verified by the Dean or Director of the unit

Additionally, ESU policy requires the following criteria:

  • Employee should have approximately 1-2 years remaining (out of the 6 total) in H-1B status
  • Non-faculty employee should have completed the probationary period, and have been employed full time in the position for at least 12 consecutive months
  • The head of the unit must approve the request for support

Consideration for permanent residency requests that do not meet the criteria specified in the ESU policy will be on a case-by-case basis, and will require approval of the appropriate Vice President.

The university will not become involved with immigration applications, other than employment-based petitions, even if the applicant is an employee of ESU.


ESU employees who are have used between four and five years of their H-1B status are encouraged to contact the Office of Human Resources to ensure timely processing of the green card application. To initiate the process, the Office of Human Resources must receive the Employee Information Form.pdf, and the Department Information Form.pdf.

There are three main steps to applying for an employment-based green card:

  1. PERM Labor Certification
  2. I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition
  3. I-485 application

PERM Labor Certification:

The labor certification is prepared by ESU and an immigration attorney and provided to the Department of Labor (DOL) to show that recruitment was conducted, and no qualified U.S. worker was identified who was available and willing to accept the position on the same terms and conditions as offered to the foreign national employee.


For faculty members with classroom teaching duties who are listed as the instructor of record, ESU must only show that the foreign national employee is better qualified than any of the U.S. applicants. These faculty members are also eligible for special handling, which simplifies the recruitment process, and enables the employer to hire the most qualified applicant, thereby ensuring a high level of academic quality.

Faculty meeting the criteria for Outstanding Professor or Researcher do not require a labor certification. To qualify, employees must provide evidence that they have at least three years of teaching experience, and meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field
  • Memberships in associations in the academic field that require the demonstration of outstanding achievement as a criteria of membership
  • Evidence of material in professional publications written by others about the applicant’s work in the academic field
  • Participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the academic field
  • Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field
  • Authorship of scholarly books or articles in scholarly journals with international circulation in the academic field

For more information about the recruitment requirements and timelines for labor certifications, go here.

Immigrant Visa Petition I-140

The I-140 is a mandatory step in the green card process for all employment-based petitions. ESU files the I-140 on behalf of the foreign national employee in order to obtain a visa number from USCIS. Once an I-140 is approved, either the Office of Human Resources or the attorney will provide the employee with an approval notice. The notice includes a priority date that determines the employee’s position in the green card queue. When the priority date becomes current, the individual is eligible to apply for adjustment to permanent resident status

Processing time for the I-140 varies on a case-by-case basis. Typical processing times range from four months to one year. USCIS offers premium processing as a way to ensure a response to the I-140 within 15 calendar days. The cost is an additional $1,225. Premium processing does not guarantee approval of the application, it guarantees USCIS will approve, deny, or request more evidence. If USCIS does not respond within 15 days, the fee is refunded.

Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident (I-485)

The adjustment of status is the final state in the green card application process. At this stage, the green card application is a personal application, and is prepared by the international employee either on his or her own, or with the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney. International employees may only file the I-485 if their priority date is current. Certain countries face backlogs and must wait and maintain their underlying immigration status while waiting for a green card to become available.

Processing time for the I-485 varies on a case-by-case basis. The employee will be required to provide documentation such as immigration status history, birth and marriage records, and biographical information. A medical exam is also required.


Through the employment-based application process, ESU is required to pay the recruitment costs, and legal fees associated with the Labor Certification. The employee is responsible for the filing and legal fees associated with the I-140 and I-485 application. The employee is also responsible for any additional costs including those associated with sponsoring a spouse or children, or other attorney fees not related to the green card application.

Legal Representation:

Given the complexity of immigration laws, green card applications are coordinated with the assistance of an immigration attorney. The university has established partnerships with two immigration attorneys in order to ensure quality service at a fair price. Please contact the Office of Human Resources for more information.