Permanent Residency

NOTE REGARDING IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS

University departments MAY NOT hire an immigration attorney to file a UA employer-sponsored PR petition without approval (PR Process Approval Form) and must use one of the UA-system approved firms.  Departments with questions about the retention of immigration counsel to represent the University in the filing of an employer-sponsored PR petition may contact ISSS.

PR Policy and Process Overview

POLICY FOR LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENCY PETITIONS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

Lawful Permanent Residency
The term Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) is used to describe an immigrant who has been granted the privilege of residing permanently in the United States.  The status also confers the right to work for almost any type of employer. This status is conferred via an I-551 stamp in the individual’s passport and an I-551 card (commonly known as a “green card”). In some instances, The University of Alabama serves as the sponsor for Employer Based permanent residency petitions.  All permanent resident applications filed by UA must adhere to the process and procedures given below.

Criteria for UA Permanent Residency Sponsorship
In general, the University will sponsor permanent residence petitions for both staff and faculty under the following conditions:

1. The candidate holds a permanent or tenured/tenure track position at The University of Alabama. “Permanent” is defined by immigration guidelines as employment that is intended to be of an indefinite or unlimited duration. In other words, the nature of the position is such that the employee will ordinarily have an expectation of continued employment.
2. The position demonstrates secured funding that is either regular in nature, or in the case of a grant-funded position, includes a reasonable expectation that funding will continue.
3. The candidate maintains a valid non-immigrant employment status while the application is being processed.

UA reserves the right to determine acceptable cases under employment-based categories where the long-term services of an employee are deemed to be in the best interests of the University and there are assurances of a long-term commitment on the part of both the employing department and the employee.

PR Categories Sponsored by UA
The categories of Permanent Residency which The University of Alabama may sponsor as an employer are:

• EB-1: Outstanding Researcher/Professor;
• EB-2: Advanced Degree Holders;
• EB-2: Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts, or Business; and
• EB-3: Professional or Skilled Worker

University employees whose circumstances foreclose using an employer-sponsored category may self-petition for PR through other categories such as Alien of Extraordinary Ability (EB-1) or the National Interest Waiver (EB-2). Employees in this situation are encouraged to consult with competent legal counsel about their individual situation before commencing proceedings under either of those categories.

Employees choosing either the EB-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability or EB-2 National Interest Waiver paths to PR may ask supervisors for letters of reference for their petition, the employee’s department should confirm that the PR petition is not signed or filed on behalf of the University by the employee in reliance on an existing or future position.

Initiating Permanent Residency Sponsorship
To begin sponsorship of a faculty or staff member for Permanent Residency at The University of Alabama (UA), sponsorship must be approved using the PR Process Approval Form. Approval is required for all UA-supported permanent residency applications as follows:

1. Faculty Sponsorship Approval: Chair > Dean > Provost > International Student & Scholar Services > UA Chief University Counsel
2. Permanent Staff Sponsorship: Chair/Director > Division Head > HR Director > International Student & Scholar Services > UA Chief University Counsel


Processing PR Sponsorship by Select Outside Counsel

UA uses outside legal counsel to advise and coordinate the process of sponsoring foreign nationals for LPR. The following immigration attorneys/firms have been approved by The University of Alabama System Office to process Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker and PERM filings on behalf of the University, and only these firms may be engaged to process a UA sponsored employment-based Permanent Residency filing:

FIRM CONTACT
Armstrong Law Carol Armstrong
2220 University Blvd.
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401Website
Email
205-210-4713
Ware|Immigration David Ware
4000 Eagle Point Corporate Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35242Website
Email
866-833-8308

 

University departments MAY NOT hire an immigration attorney to file a UA employer-sponsored PR petition without approval of the sponsorship as given above.  Departments with questions about the retention of immigration counsel to represent the University in the filing of an employer-sponsored PR petition may contact International Student & Scholar Services.

Department/divisional heads and Deans are not authorized to sign either a form I-140 or a form G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative) on behalf of UA. All immigrant and non-immigrant petitions sponsored by The University of Alabama will be reviewed and submitted to USCIS through the UA International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS). ISSS will be the sole signatory office at UA for all UA sponsored PR Petitions, and only ISSS will sign I-140 and G-28 forms on behalf of UA.

All UA employment-based non-immigrant and immigrant petitions are petitions for the employer (UA) and may be withdrawn at any time.

UA sponsored immigration petitions related to employment and or permanent residency require specific internal procedures to assure that the paperwork is in compliance with not only US Department of Labor and US Department of Homeland Security immigration regulations but also with university policies and procedures, including the following:

• University of Alabama faculty, staff, and university representatives are not authorized to sign a USCIS form G-28 or I-140.
• Only International Student & Scholar Services is authorized to sign immigrant and non-immigrant petitions on behalf of the university. International Student & Scholar Services serves as a liaison for the university for all UA sponsored petitions. UA departments and employees with questions should contact ISSS at 205-348-5402 or via email at international@ua.edu.
• All requests for submission of immigration petitions must go through a signature routing approval process on-campus using the PR Process Approval Form prior to submission to the approved attorneys.

• Faculty Sponsorship Approval Sequence: Chair > Dean > Provost > International Student & Scholar Services > UA Chief University Counsel
• Permanent Staff Sponsorship Approval Sequence: Chair/Director > Division Head > HR Director > International Student & Scholar Services > UA Chief University Counsel

• The University of Alabama does not authorize outside legal counsel to file PERM applications online on behalf of UA except through a sub-account of International Student & Scholar Services. For PERM cases, outside counsel must work with ISSS for access to PERM filing, and prior to submission to the Department of Labor, applications must be submitted for review.
• ISSS will review all documents related to an I-140 petition prior to their submission to the USCIS.
• ISSS will sign all G-28 and I-140 forms filed on behalf of The University of Alabama.
• All records and official processing of immigration documentation must be maintained and monitored by ISSS.

Attorney Costs & Filing Fees

Attorney Fees and USCIS Filing Fees
Applicants and their UA departments will be responsible for all legal fees associated with Permanent Residency filing.

At a minimum, UA as the employer sponsor must cover all attorney expenses related to the Department of Labor Certification Process for PERM filings ($2000 for a Special Handling Labor Certification case or $3000 for a Standard Labor Certification Case).

In addition to the mandated attorney fees for Labor Certification/PERM filing, there are other fees that are associated with the employer’s sponsorship of Permanent Residency.  There are the direct USCIS filing fees for the I-140 (currently $700 – http://www.uscis.gov/i-140) and potentially the I-907 Premium Processing Fee (currently $1225 – http://www.uscis.gov/i-907 an optional fee to be paid only when absolute necessity due to timing issues related to continued employment).  In addition, there are the attorney fees related to the I-140 preparation ($2500 for either Special Handling or Standard Labor Certification Cases and $6000 for EB-1 Outstanding Researcher/Professor or EB-2 Exceptional Ability Cases). While not legally mandated as with the attorney fees associated with Labor Certification, the direct filing fees and attorney fees related to the I-140 petition are fees directly related to the University’s I-140 filing.

Thus, UA departments should anticipate total minimum USCIS fees and attorney costs related to Permanent Residency filing to be approximately $5200 for teaching positions filed under Special Handling; approximately $6200 for non-teaching positions filed under standard labor certification; and approximately $6700 for non-labor based EB-1 and EB-2 Exceptional Ability cases.

Following the employer’s sponsorship petition, the final step of the process is the filing of an I-485 Adjustment of Status petition.  This is a personal application by the employee. All fees associated with an I-485 petition for the employee and his/her dependents, including filing fees, biometric fees, civil surgeon fees, and attorney fees, are the responsibility of the employee. Employees should anticipate their costs in attorney and filing fees related to the I-485 petition to be $2725 at a minimum (and $1500 – $1975 for each dependent, based on age).

SPECIAL HANDLING PROCESS FOR TEACHING POSITIONS - ESTIMATED ATTORNEY & FILING FEES

SERVICE OFFERED ATTORNEY LEGAL FEE FILING FEE/COSTS
SPECIAL HANDLING LABOR CERTIFICATION

(FOR TEACHING POSITIONS)

$2000 * Advertising Costs *
I-140 FILING BASED ON LABOR CERTIFICATION $2500 ** $700 **
I-485 ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS $1500 ***

(+ $750 Per Dependent)

$1225 per applicant ***

($750 per child under age 14)

COST TO UA DEPARTMENT $2000 – $5200
COST TO INTERNATIONAL FACULTY MEMBER $2725 – $5950 (for faculty member)

$1975 (for spouse and/or children between 14 and 21)

$1500 (for children under 14)

(+ Civil Surgeon Fees – $200-$300 per person)

 

* Labor Certification Attorney and Advertising Costs are entirely the responsibility of UA as the employer and must be paid by the sponsoring department/college.

** The I-140 filing is a UA-Filed Petition, meaning that The University of Alabama owns the petition.  The I-140 Direct Filing Fees and Attorney Fees may be paid either by the sponsoring department/college, by the employee, or by both.

*** I-485 Attorney Fees and Filing Fees for the employee and dependents are the responsibility of the employee.

STANDARD LABOR CERT FOR NON-TEACHING POSITIONS - ESTIMATED ATTORNEY & FILING FEES

SERVICE OFFERED ATTORNEY LEGAL FEE FILING FEE/COSTS
STANDARD LABOR CERTIFICATION

(FOR NON-TEACHING POSITIONS)

$3000 * Advertising Costs *
I-140 FILING BASED ON LABOR CERTIFICATION $2500 ** $700 **
I-485 ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS $1500 ***

(+ $750 Per Dependent)

$1225 per applicant ***

($750 per child under age 14)

COST TO UA DEPARTMENT $3000 – $6200
COST TO INTERNATIONAL FACULTY MEMBER $2725 – $5950 (for faculty member)

$1975 (for spouse and/or children between 14 and 21)

$1500 (for children under 14)

(+ Civil Surgeon Fees – $200-$300 per person)

 

* Labor Certification Attorney and Advertising Costs are entirely the responsibility of UA as the employer and must be paid by the sponsoring department/college.

** The I-140 filing is a UA-Filed Petition, meaning that The University of Alabama owns the petition.  The I-140 Direct Filing Fees and Attorney Fees may be paid either by the sponsoring department/college, by the employee, or by both.

*** I-485 Attorney Fees and Filing Fees for the employee and dependents are the responsibility of the employee.

EB-1 OUTSTANDING RESEARCHER/PROFESSOR & EB-2 EXCEPTIONAL ABILITY CASES - ESTIMATED ATTORNEY & FILING FEES

SERVICE OFFERED ATTORNEY LEGAL FEE FILING FEE/COSTS
I-140 FILING BASED ON EB-1 OR EB-2 EXCEPTIONAL ABILITY $4000 – $6000 ** $700 **
I-485 ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS $1500 ***

(+ $750 Per Dependent)

$1225 per applicant ***

($750 per child under age 14)

COST TO UA DEPARTMENT $0 – $6700
COST TO INTERNATIONAL FACULTY MEMBER $2725 – $9425 (for faculty member)

$1975 (for spouse and/or children between 14 and 21)

$1500 (for children under 14)

(+ Civil Surgeon Fees – $200-$300 per person)

 

** The I-140 filing is a UA-Filed Petition, meaning that The University of Alabama owns the petition.  The I-140 Direct Filing Fees and Attorney Fees may be paid either by the sponsoring department/college, by the employee, or by both.

*** I-485 Attorney Fees and Filing Fees for the employee and dependents are the responsibility of the employee.

EB-1 Outstanding Professors and Researchers

The EB-1 Outstanding Professor/Researcher category is an excellent option for any international faculty member or researcher who has many years of experience in the field and is either tenured or in a tenure-track position. Not all professors or researchers will qualify to file for Permanent Residency under the EB-1 Outstanding Professor/Researcher category.

The University of Alabama can support an outstanding professor/researcher (EB1) petition if the employee has an outstanding record of scholarly achievement in his or her field.  The regulations set a high bar for eligibility, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services closely scrutinizes an individual’s qualifications to determine whether he or she is reaches it; if not, the agency will likely deny the petition.

Many new faculty who have recently completed their doctorates will not qualify for outstanding professor/researcher because they simply have not had sufficient time to satisfy the requirements, however promising they may be.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR EB-1
Any applicant for EB-1 Outstanding Professor/Researcher category must meet three basic requirements:

1. The applicant is recognized internationally as outstanding in teaching or research in the academic area;
2. The applicant has at least 3 years of experience in teaching or research in the academic area;
3. The position the applicant holds is either a tenured or tenure-track position (for professors) or a permanent position (for researchers).

ESTABLISHING ELIGIBILITY AS AN OUTSTANDING PROFESSOR OR RESEARCHER:
In addition to the basic requirements, EB-1 Applicants must establish eligibility as an outstanding professor or researcher by developing and submitting documentation in at least two (preferably three) of the categories listed below:

• Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the field of endeavor;
• Membership in associations in the academic field which require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievements to become a member;
• Published material in professional publications written by others about the alien’s work in the academic field.  Such evidence should include title, date, and author of the publication and any necessary translations;
• Participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field;
• Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions in the field;
• Authorship of scholarly books or articles in scholarly journals with international circulation in the academic field.

Although compiling the necessary evidence demonstrating scholarly achievement is time-consuming, USCIS processing of EB1 petitions is generally faster than for the EB2 and EB3 categories, because labor certification through the Department of Labor is not required. In addition, foreign nationals from certain countries with high U.S. immigration rates do not currently have to wait for a visa number to become available before they can take the final steps towards obtaining LPR, once USCIS approves the University’s petition.

EB-2 & EB-3 Labor Certification Categories

The EB-2 and EB-3 Permanent Residency sponsorship categories require employers to apply first to the Department of Labor (DOL) for labor certification before submitting a petition for an immigrant visa to US Citizenship and Immigration Services. To obtain DOL approval, the employer must demonstrate that it meets DOL salary requirements, or the prevailing wage, and that it followed mandatory hiring guidelines and duly considered qualified U.S. workers for the position.

EB-2 and EB-3 petitions for categories requiring labor certification take longer to process than the EB-1 Outstanding Researcher/Professor category, particularly for employees from certain countries with a shortage of available immigrant visas, who may have to wait several months or years before they can proceed to the final step of applying to change to Permanent Resident status.

SPECIAL RECRUITMENT FOR TEACHING POSITIONS
Advanced Degree Holders – Special Recruitment for a Teaching Position – EB-2 – The University can sponsor a teaching faculty member via the labor certification process under the “optional special recruitment and documentation” rules.

Under these rules, the University does not have to show there were no minimally qualified workers available for the position, but only that the individual was the best qualified candidate. An employer must submit a labor certification application for teaching faculty within 18 months of the employee’s selection for the position.

The application must include documentation of either a 30-day electronic job advertising posting on a professional journal’s website (e.g. web ad on the Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Ed websites) or one print job advertisement in a professional journal. Additionally, hiring departments must submit other evidence of the University’s competitive recruitment and selection process.

BASIC LABOR CERTIFICATION – FOR NON-TEACHING PROFESSIONAL POSITIONS
The Regular Labor Certification Process for Labor Certification is the only option for a Department which wishes to support Permanent Residency for any international staff member or researcher who does not qualify for the EB-1 Outstanding Professor/ Researcher Category and whose job-duties do not include teaching. The process requires that the UA Department carry out the recruitment process according to strict Department of Labor standards.

If experience is required for the position, the international applicant must have had that experience before being hired by The University of Alabama.  Experience gained while working for The University of Alabama cannot be used to satisfy minimum experience requirements unless that experience was gained in a substantially different position.

Basic Recruitment Requirements – To be eligible for Regular Labor Certification, the job position and job search must meet the following requirements set by the U.S. Department of Labor:

• Placement of ad in two Sunday editions of general circulation newspaper in the area of intended employment (Tuscaloosa News). If the position requires experience and an advanced degree, then one advertisement may go into an appropriate academic journal in lieu of one Sunday ad;
• The department must place a 30-day job order with the state employment agency.  The job order must be exactly 30 consecutive, calendar days to be considered (Note: be wary of one month postings in February);
• It must be shown that there were no minimally qualified U.S. citizens or permanent residents available for the position.  This means that the job search cannot be used as the basis of support for Permanent Residency if there is even one U.S. citizen who both meets the minimum qualifications and cannot be deselected due to any other reason such as unavailability for intended start date or withdrawal from search
• The PERM labor application must be filed 30 – 180 days after the completion of recruitment steps

Additional Recruitment Requirements – Employers must select 3 other recruitment methods from the following:

• Job fairs
• Employer’s web site (https://careers.ua.edu/jobs/)
• Job search web site other than the employers (such as Monster.com)
• On-campus recruiting at another campus
• Trade or professional organization recruitment
• Private employment firms
• Employee referral program
• Campus placement offices
• Local and ethnic newspapers
• Radio and television

CATEGORIES THAT REQUIRE BASIC LABOR CERTIFICATION

1. Advanced Degree Holders (EB-2)
Employees who do not qualify for the outstanding professor/researcher category or who are not engaged in teaching may qualify for the EB-2 Advanced Degree Holders category through the standard labor certification process. Unlike for teaching faculty, the University must demonstrate that no minimally qualified U.S. worker in the area was available and willing to take the position. When submitting a labor certification application in the advanced degree holder category, the University must provide documentation that it met recruiting requirements, including two print advertisements, three additional recruitment steps (out of a possible 10), and a recruiting report.

The University must have taken these steps between 180 and 30 days before filing the labor certification petition. If recruitment and hiring took place more than 180 days before the desired filing date, then the department must run a new search to meet the US Department of Labor’s requirements.

2. Aliens of Exceptional Ability (EB-2)
The EB-2 Aliens of Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts, or Business category is an excellent option for any international instructor, researcher, or professional staff member who has many years of experience in the field but may not hold a Master’s or Ph.D. degree.

In addition to the evidence of eligibility as an EB-2 Alien of Exception Ability that must be shown by the international applicant, the UA Department will have to follow the recruitment guidelines for proper Labor Certification.

Establishing Eligibility – An EB-2 applicant can establish eligibility as an alien of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business by developing and submitting documentation in at least three (preferably four) of the categories listed below:

• An official academic record showing that the applicant has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from an institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability;
• Evidence in the form of letters from current or former employers showing that the applicant has at least ten years of full-time experience in the occupation;
• A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation;
• Evidence that the applicant has either commanded a salary or other remuneration for services, as shown by contracts or letters of employment, which demonstrates exceptional ability;
• Membership in professional associations;
• Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations.

3. Professionals (EB-3)
The EB3 Professional category is a PR sponsorship category that is reserved often for staff who do not hold advanced degrees.

To qualify for sponsorship under EB-3, the employee must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific field of professional endeavor or at least two years of specific education, training, or experience; and the job offered requires at least a bachelor’s degree as a minimum requirement. Standard labor certification is required, as in the EB2 advanced degree holder category, and the University must demonstrate that no minimally qualified U.S. worker in the area was available and willing to take the position.