An LSU department intending to retain an international employee on a permanent basis may sponsor the employee for permanent resident status. Permanent resident status or the “Green Card” authorizes the foreign national to live and work permanently in the United States. LSU policy on sponsorship of international employees for permanent residency is contained in PM-26. The foreign national must have a job offer or occupy a position that is full time and permanent in nature. A permanent position is one that has guaranteed long term funding, and is not presently intended by the employer to have some specific end date in the future. The employer and the employee must have the expectation that the employee will continue in the employment for an indefinite or unlimited duration.
Full time tenured and tenure track faculty are eligible for sponsorship; and the International Services office (IS) coordinates the processing of their permanent residence paperwork as soon as the sponsoring department is ready to start the process. All other foreign nationals must be employed by LSU for at least one year and receive favorable performance appraisal before they can be considered for permanent residence sponsorship. Furthermore, most of these employees may be sponsored only as recommended by IS and approved by the chancellor on a case by case basis. Employees holding temporary or term positions such as instructors, lecturers, visiting professors, visiting researchers and post-doctoral fellows are generally not eligible for permanent residence sponsorship. Employees in grant funded positions will generally not be eligible for sponsorship, unless the sponsoring department provides evidence that funding for the position is available for a minimum of three years into the future and demonstrates intent to continue to seek funding and a reasonable expectation that funding will continue.
Permanent Residency Process and use of Immigration Attorneys
The permanent residence process is lengthy and complex. The application process may take a year or two to complete, depending on the particular circumstances of the case. Therefore, proper timing is very important. The department and the employee are responsible for providing the IS with all information and documentation required for preparation of the permanent residence case. Failure to respond in a timely fashion or to provide specific information as requested may jeopardize the case and may result in IS’s inability to proceed with the case.
Departments and employees may not use outside counsel for preparation of LSU sponsored cases without first consulting with the IS. The IS reserves the right to recommend that the employee retain an immigration attorney for complex cases. In such cases, IS retains the right to approve and sign immigration applications and forms before they are submitted by the attorney to the US Department of Labor or the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Pursuant to PM – 26, LSU employees are not authorized to sign form G-28 which would allow an attorney to represent LSU. The foreign national may engage counsel to represent his or her own interests, not LSU's legal interests.
All application and filing fees for permanent residency are the responsibility of the foreign national. Legal fees to outside counsel or attorney are also the responsibility of the foreign national, except in specific cases where the law requires the employer to pay the legal fee. Recruitment expenses are the responsibility of the sponsoring department. The IS does not charge any fees for processing permanent residence petitions on behalf of the sponsoring department and the employee.
A department that wishes to sponsor a foreign national for permanent residency must contact the International Services office to discuss eligibility requirements. If the employee qualifies for LSU sponsorship, the IS will explain the permanent residence options available for the employee, and the procedures to be followed in obtaining permanent residence status.
Employment-based Permanent Residency Classifications
The following permanent residence categories are typically used at LSU:
- “Special Handling” labor certification for tenure track faculty.
- “Regular” labor certification, for non-teaching professional research positions, technical positions, and other eligible non – teaching positions.
- “Outstanding professors or researchers,” for faculty and researchers who are outstanding in field and internationally recognized as such.
Obtaining permanent residency through Labor Certification involves three steps:
- LSU submits a Labor Certification application to the US Department of Labor (DOL). Prior to submitting the application a labor certification case that meets Department of Labor standards must be prepared carefully. For teaching positions, this involves compiling paperwork that establish that a competitive recruitment process took place and the foreign national who is being sponsored for permanent residence was found to be more qualified than all U.S. workers (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) who applied for the position. The application must be received by the Department of Labor no later than 18 months from the date of the job offer. For non-teaching positions, the process involves conducting a recruitment process that meets rigorous DOL standards. The department must demonstrate that they engaged in various recruitment efforts required by the DOL and could not find a U.S. worker (U.S. citizen or permanent resident) who was minimally qualified, able and willing to perform the work at wages that meet or exceed the Prevailing Wage paid for the occupation in the area of intended employment.
- LSU submits an Immigrant Petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS), confirming its willingness to sponsor the foreign national for permanent residence and demonstrating how that foreign national meets the job requirements.
- The foreign national files an Adjustment of Status application, requesting US CIS for change of status to permanent residency.
To obtain permanent residency through the Outstanding Professor/resarcherr category, individuals must have at least three years of teaching and/or research experience and must meet immigration criteria to qualify as outstanding and internationally recognized in their particular academic field. The university files an immigrant petition directly with US CIS; upon approval the foreign national files an application for Adjustment of Status.