Most foreign nationals who come to the United States to study or work are only allowed to stay in the United States for a temporary period of time. Many choose to seek lawful permanent residency (LPR), commonly referred to as a “green card,” which allows a foreign national to live and work permanently in the United States. A tenure-track faculty member at the University of Connecticut (UConn) must receive LPR status before the University will award tenure, making the LPR process a crucial requirement for our foreign-born faculty. The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) at UConn handles all UConn-sponsored visa filings for foreign nationals at the University, including UConn’s sponsorship of the LPR process.
There are several ways for a foreign national to gain permanent residency in the U.S., including sponsorship by a U.S. citizen or LPR family member, winning the “diversity visa” lottery, receiving asylum, through an approved Extraordinary Ability or National Interest Waiver self-petition, or sponsorship by an employer in need of the foreign national’s particular skills. UConn commonly petitions for LPR status on behalf of its tenure-track faculty, with UConn as the sponsoring “employer,” and the foreign national employee as the “beneficiary” of the petition.
An overview of the general steps required to obtain a green card through UConn sponsorship follows. Currently, UConn only pursues lawful permanent residency for tenure-track faculty. OGC will work closely with the hiring department and the beneficiary to manage the LPR process and can explain each of these steps in greater detail.
The path to permanent residency by employer sponsorship is generally a three-step filing process involving two different U.S. agencies: the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The three steps are:
- PERM Form 9089 filed by UConn with the DOL
- Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker filed by UConn with USCIS
- Form I-485 Adjustment of Status filed by the beneficiary with USCIS
Hiring departments and beneficiaries should keep in mind that the LPR process is position-specific, meaning that the University files the PERM Form 9089 and the I-140 for a specific position, not simply for a specific beneficiary. To obtain a green card through employer sponsorship, the beneficiary must show that he or she will hold the sponsored position at the time that the I-485 is approved, which in some cases may be six or more years down the road. In reality, however, with most cases the position in which the beneficiary is currently employed at UConn will be the position that serves as the basis of the LPR petition process. Both parties need to remember that this potentially involves a long-term employment commitment, which is not inconsistent with the idea of tenure at the University, but which in practice can limit the University’s and the beneficiary’s future employment options. The beneficiary can switch to a different job while waiting for a visa number to become current in his or her preference category (assuming nonimmigrant employment visa coverage), but he or she would need to hold the petitioned-for position upon adjudication of the I-485. While standard promotions within the same job classification are allowed over the time period of the LPR process so long as the basic job duties remain the same, the beneficiary may not be able to change job classifications or significant job duties without invalidating the PERM and I-140.
Once the hiring department is ready to begin the LPR process on behalf of the beneficiary, contact Lesley Salafia at the Office of the General Counsel (Lesley.Salafia@uconn.edu or (860) 486-5796) to discuss details.
Policy On Outside Attorneys
The Provost has designated the Office of the General Counsel as the exclusive signatory authority to sign off on official immigration documents related to UConn appointment and employment, including the PERM Form 9089, the USCIS Form I-140 and the USCIS Form I-129. Individual faculty and/or department representatives should not engage outside attorneys for any University action, nor pay attorneys for services on behalf of the University, nor sign off on immigration documentation related to UConn sponsorship. Failure to comply with these provisions will result in notification to USCIS and/or DOL that the petition or application was unauthorized and should be withdrawn or revoked.
In addition, the State of Connecticut has selected two law firms to represent the State’s higher education institutions for immigration issues requiring outside immigration legal counsel. The Office of the General Counsel will consult with these law firms in cases where a second opinion is warranted and refer work to them as appropriate. Hiring departments and beneficiaries should consult with OGC first before seeking any outside immigration attorney’s legal services relating to UConn employment. Communication with the two immigration law firms representing the State of Connecticut must be initiated through OGC.
Forms and Filing Fees
|Form||Filed By||Filed With||Filing Fee||Paid By|
|OGC 621 LPR Process Administration Fees||UConn Hiring Department||OGC||$150||Hiring Department|
|PERM Form 9089||UConn||DOL||None||N/A|
|Form I-140||UConn||USCIS||$700||Hiring Department|
|Form I-485-Primary Beneficiary||Beneficiary||USCIS||$1,070||Beneficiary|
|Form I-485-Derivative Spouse of Primary Beneficiary (or child age 14 or above)||Beneficiary||USCIS||$1,070||Beneficiary|
|Form I-485-Derivative Child of Primary Beneficiary (under age 14)||Beneficiary||USCIS||$635||Beneficiary|
OGC – Office of the General Counsel at the University of Connecticut
DOL – United States Department of Labor
LPR – Legal Permanent Residency or Legal Permanent Resident
ODE – Office of Diversity and Equity at the University of Connecticut
PERM – Application for Permanent Employment Certification
UConn – University of Connecticut