Sponsoring Permanent Residency

The ISSO assists sponsoring schools, departments, institutes and their qualifying foreign national employees with the employment-based permanent residence process. 

All Columbia-sponsored employment-based permanent residence cases must be approved by, and coordinated through, the ISSO.

Process Example
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Foreign nationals with status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR or “green card”) are permitted to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. Here are a few important factors to consider:

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Whom We Sponsor

Columbia may provide permanent residence sponsorship to those holding ongoing full-time salaried officer-level research appointments (with the exception of Staff Associates) or instructional appointments requiring a Master's degree or PhD (not postdoctoral positions as they are temporary appointments).

Other positions may be considered for permanent residence sponsorship if the position is deemed to be critical to the functioning of the University, generally at least Level 14 (Morningside/Manhattanville) or Grade 106 (CUIMC).

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Types of Columbia Sponsorship

Extraordinary Ability (EB1)

This visa category:

Unless the individual is the recipient of a major, internationally-recognized award such as a Nobel Prize, the petition must include evidence that the individual meets at least three of the following eligibility criteria:

Outstanding Professor or Researcher (EB1)

This visa category:

The petition must contain evidence to satisfy at least two of the eligibility criteria listed below:

National Interest Waiver (EB2)

Columbia may sponsor a National Interest Waiver petition or an individual may self-sponsor in this second employment-based visa category since, as is the case with the Extraordinary Ability visa category, there is no offer of employment required.

In order to qualify for a National Interest Waiver, the following standards must be met:

For additional information on the National Interest Waiver category see the USCIS website.

Labor Certification/PERM

The PERM program (Program Electronic Review Management) is a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) process requiring employers to conduct a good faith test of the U.S. labor market to determine whether there are any minimally qualified, willing and available U.S. workers for the offered position.

For permanent positions which have a teaching or instructional component, DOL has created a separate labor certification process known as Special Handling. Timing is critical because there is a limited 18-month window in which to apply, calculated from the date of the initial offer letter and not the first date of employment.

Special Handling PERM Advertising and Recruitment Guidance

It is important to ensure certain protocols are followed in the recruitment process. 

The text of the ad must include:

  • the title(s) of the academic appointment(s)
  • all duties of the position, which must specifically include teaching duties
  • the location of the position
  • requirements for the position (not preferences): i.e., the specific degree required and when it is required. If the doctorate is required at the time of appointment, but not at selection, this must be stated in the ad. Anything listed as a “preference” will be treated as a “requirement”, so best to keep the ads simple.

Placement of the ad

At least one ad must run in a professional national journal (containing articles and an editorial board), in either:

  • A print ad
    • we will need a copy of the actual published ad that shows the name of the journal and date of publication
  • An online ad
    • we will need documentation showing at ad ran for at least 30-days
    • we will need either, (or both, if possible):
      • an invoice showing the journal name, posting date and duration the ad ran
      • two screen shots of the online ad: one on the first day it was live and the other on the 30th day, both showing the ad content, name of journal, and that day’s date

If you are unsure as to whether your journal qualifies as a “professional national journal”, contact us for guidance before you place the ad so we can make sure it will meet Department of Labor (DOL) requirements.

Recruiting Guidance and Evaluation of Applicants

We will prepare a Recruitment Report which summarizes the competitive recruitment process.  Please provide:

  • Total number of applicants
  • Number interviewed by phone and number called for on-campus interview
  • Basis for selecting applicants for interview
  • Description of interview process
  • Members of search committee, including names/titles
  • Factors that resulted in the selected candidate being found the “most qualified”
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How to Sponsor Permanent Residency

Steps to Sponsor a PR
Step 1

Contact Us

To discuss eligibility requirements and case-specific information, please contact Liz Basile.

Send these supporting documents as one single pdf to 

[email protected]:


We will contact you

Before the PR process can begin, the ISSO needs to evaluate the suitability of the position being offered for University sponsorship. Within two weeks of receiving these documents, the ISSO will contact the department with eligibility options and recommended filing strategy.

Step 3

ISSO will file the case in-house or assign to retained counsel

Columbia-Sponsored Permanent Resident Cases

Once ISSO has confirmed the case can be handled in-house, the department will have two weeks to decide whether to proceed, at which time a $2,000 fee will be charged

This fee:

  •  will be charged to the chart-string that was provided on the PR Initial Review Form
  •  will not be charged if the case is referred to outside counsel
  •  cannot be charged back to employee
  •  for tenure-track faculty only: fee will be waived if PR Form is initiated within 60 days from the date of initial offer letter. - Timing is critical in such cases, in order to qualify for Special Handling PERM

Depending on the complexity of a specific case and/or the need for expedited processing, the ISSO may refer the matter to the University's outside immigration counsel. Legal fees would then be incurred. Columbia has authorized one firm to represent the University in regard to employment-based permanent residence cases. Neither the sponsoring department nor the employee may choose other outside counsel for Columbia-sponsored permanent residence cases. The sponsoring department is responsible for providing the USCIS I-140 filing fee of $715.00. With the exception of I-140 petitions filed based on a certified PERM application, the premium processing fee of $2,805.00 may be provided either by the Department or the employee. Please contact us with any questions. 

Without Columbia Sponsorship

If an individual is interested in pursuing permanent residence without Columbia’s sponsorship, they may select an immigration attorney of their choice.  It should be noted that representation by an attorney is not a requirement for filing any petition or application with USCIS. 

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Although Columbia may choose to sponsor its employees in the two categories above, USCIS regulations allow for self-sponsorship meaning Columbia University will not act as petitioner and will not sign any petition forms in support of these applications. The individual prepares and files the appropriate paperwork directly with USCIS with or without attorney representation.

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Adjustment of Status (AOS)

The final step in the Permanent Residence process is the application for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) filed by the employee and any accompanying family members. General information on the AOS process, including document requirements, may be found here.

Since the AOS is a personal application rather than a Columbia-sponsored filing, the ISSO does not provide services in regard to filing requirements, processing times, and concurrent applications for travel authorization (advance parole) and employment authorization (EAD).

Although not required in order to file, it is recommended that the employee retain legal counsel in connection with the AOS, particularly since an interview at a USCIS district office will be scheduled prior to final adjudication.

Payment of legal fees incurred is determined by the department or school.

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