Sponsoring Permanent Residency
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:
- Becoming a permanent resident does not affect the citizenship of the foreign national.
- There are a limited number of immigrant visa numbers. Availability of a visa number is based on the employment-based (or family-based) preference category as well as the country in which the foreign national was born.
- For permanent residence purposes, an individual is subject to a quota-based system based on his or her country of birth and not his or her country of citizenship.
- Individuals maintaining permanent residence status for five years (for marriage-based cases, three years) may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Whom We Sponsor
Columbia may provide permanent residence sponsorship to full-time employees in certain academic positions:
- Those on academic appointments which are on-going research appointments requiring a Ph.D (not postdoctoral positions as they are temporary appointments); and
- Those with on-going officer-level research or instructional positions requiring a master’s degree or Ph.D. degree.
Other positions may be considered for permanent residence sponsorship if the position is deemed to be critical to the functioning of the department or the University.
Types of Columbia Sponsorship
Extraordinary Ability (EB1)
This visa category:
- may be filed by the employer or it may be filed directly by the individual; an offer of employment is not required
- is available to an individual with outstanding achievements in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics
- is for an individual who has reached the top of his or her field and has achieved “sustained national or international acclaim”
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:
- Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards
- Memberships in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements of members
- Published material about the individual in professional journals or other major media
- Experience judging the work of others, as on an editorial or peer-review board
- Original scholarly and/or scientific contributions of major significance in the field
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media
- Work displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
- Performed a leading or critical role in a distinguished organization
- Receipt of a high salary compared to others in the field
- Commercial success in the performing arts
Outstanding Professor or Researcher (EB1)
This visa category:
- requires employer sponsorship
- is for an individual who is internationally-recognized for outstanding academic achievements and has at least three years of experience in teaching or conducting research within his or her academic field
- is for employment that is tenured or tenure-track or a comparable permanent research position
The petition must contain evidence to satisfy at least two of the eligibility criteria listed below:
- Receipt of major awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in the field
- Memberships in associations in the field which requires outstanding achievements for admission
- Published material in professional journals about the individual’s work in the academic field
- Experience judging the work of others as on an editorial or peer-review board in the same or a related field
- Original scholarly and/or scientific contributions of major significance
- Authorship of scholarly books or articles in international professional journals
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:
- The individual must be working in an area or field of substantial intrinsic merit.
- It must be demonstrated that the proposed impact of the work is national in scope. While the employment itself may be limited to a specific geographical area, the benefit of the work must be national in scope.
- It must be demonstrated that the national benefits offered are so significant that they outweigh the national interests inherent in the labor certification process, i.e., testing the labor market to identify a minimally qualified U.S. worker.
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.
- The DOL requires the employer to conduct a recruitment campaign, including the placement of advertisements, before filing the PERM application.
In addition to the labor market test, the employer must attest that the employment of the non-U.S. citizen will have no adverse effects on the wages and working conditions of similarly-employed U.S. workers.
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”
How to Sponsor Permanent Residency
- Permanent Residency (PR) Initial Review Form
- Must be current and up-to-date with most recent academic credentials, achievements and publications
- Copy of the Recruitment of Academic Personnel System (RAPS) posting
- If applicable to this particular job posting
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. After receiving these documents the ISSO will contact the department with further guidance.
We will schedule an in-person or telephone meeting to discuss eligibility options and procedures.
- Documentation required
- Fees and costs for sponsorship
- Maintaining permanent resident status
- International travel
- Employment authorization for accompanying family members
- Departure from the United States for extended periods of time may jeopardize permanent residence status.
ISSO will file the case in-house or assign to retained counsel
Columbia-Sponsored Permanent Resident Cases
Depending 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 $700.00. With the exception of I-140 petitions filed based on a certified PERM application, the premium processing fee of $2500.00 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.
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.
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.