EMPLOYMENT

Steps for Permanent Residency

Once the hiring department/unit determines that the new employee is in need of sponsorship for permanent residency, the following steps should be followed:

  1. Request Approval From Appropriate Vice President
    The sponsoring department/unit must make a written request to the vice president for approval, which is required for all MSU supported permanent residency applications. The sponsoring department/unit must provide adequate documentation to the vice president confirming that the offer of employment is long-term and permanent in nature. The request for sponsorship must originate with the department/unit and be submitted to the vice president in the form of a letter along with a copy of the letter of offer. The following should be included in the request letter:
    • Rationale for such a request
    • Evidence of department funding for at least three years
    • Credentials of the individual
    • Statement describing the individual's special abilities
  2. Vice President Approval
    Once the vice president has approved the request, it will be returned to the sponsoring department/unit. The department/unit should provide HRM with a copy of the approved request letter.
  3. Meet With Human Resources
    • Meet with HRM Before Seeking Outside Legal Counsel
      After the vice president has approved the request, the foreign national must schedule an appointment with the appropriate HRM Generalist in HRM. This appointment must take place BEFORE outside legal counsel is retained. The purpose of this meeting is to review the application process.
    • Labor Certification Process
      U. S. Department of Labor amended the PERM labor certification regulations on July 16, 2007. The new rule affects petitions for permanent residence requiring labor certification and mandates that all costs associated with labor certification applications filed on behalf of employees be paid in full by the employer. All costs associated with labor certification applications filed on behalf of employees must be paid in full by the hiring department/unit on behalf of the University. The new requirement does not affect other visa petitions such as the H1B.
    • The Foreign National is Responsible for All Attorney Fees Outside of the Labor Certification Process
      Legal fees for a PR application can range from $3,000-$7,500 depending on the complexity of the case. Also, many attorneys charge an extra fee for processing the PR applications of additional family members, such as a spouse and children. The foreign national must notify HRM as to which attorney he/she has selected.

      Employees may not be reimbursed by Mississippi State University department/unit(s) for fees associated with permanent residency. According to the Mississippi Constitution (Section 96), reimbursement of fees constitutes a gift and is prohibited. Anyone who authorizes these unauthorized expenditures is liable personally for the amount paid and may be liable for penal damages of up to three times the amount. Section 31-7-57 MCA.
    • The Foreign National assumes responsibility for ensuring that the attorney's office forwards all necessary documentation to HRM
      HRM will secure all necessary signatures.
  4. HRM Requirements
    1. HRM requires the following before evaluating the case for institutional sponsorship of permanent residence. The documents required are:
      • The department's/unit's request letter addressed to the vice president
      • The Individual's Authorization for Release of Employee Records Form, which should be notarized
    2. All permanent residence applications must be handled by an immigration attorney and channeled through HRM. HRM will review all documents and obtain the appropriate signatures.
    The HRM staff, along with the employee's legal counsel, will determine which of the four options listed below will be required based upon regulations of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    1. Option 1 - Procedure Requiring No Additional Recruitment and Selection Process
      If the employee teaches/team teaches at least one course, and was initially hired through the University's required recruitment and selection process, no more than eighteen months have lapsed since the date of the employee's selection for the position, and if the position qualifies for "special handling" under U.S. Department of Labor regulations, it may be that the original recruitment and selection process will be sufficient for the Labor Certification process. To qualify for "special handling" the recruitment must have included at least one national advertisement stating the title, minimum requirements, and duties, which must include teaching.
      Special Handling Labor Certification for Faculty Positions
      The University can apply to the Department of Labor for labor certification under "special handling" rules for a sponsored employee appointed to a faculty teaching position. Under "special handling" rules the University is not required to demonstrate that there were no qualified U.S. citizen or permanent resident workers available for the position, but only that the appointee was the "most qualified" applicant. The University can usually meet this requirement by presenting to the Department of Labor the details of the MSU departmental recruitment process that led to the faculty appointment. The route to permanent residence through labor certification under special handling rules usually takes between twelve and twenty-four months.
    2. Option 2 - Procedure Requiring Additional Recruitment and Selection Process
      Special Handling Labor Certification for Teaching Faculty Positions
      If the sponsored employee teaches/team teaches at least one course, and more than 18 months have elapsed since his/her selection for the position, and/or if the recruitment process previously followed does not meet U.S. Department of Labor requirements, the University may decide to re-recruit under special handling requirements. To obtain a special handling labor certification, the University must place one print ad in a national professional journal, such as the Chronicle of Higher Education, and must post the position in house. The ad must state the title, duties (including teaching) and minimum requirements for the position. The sponsored employee must then again be selected as the "most qualified" applicant in order to proceed with the labor certification application. This route to permanent residence usually takes between twelve and twenty-four months.

      In some cases, the sponsored employee may qualify for the Outstanding Professor category (see Option 3 below), but should be advised that the Outstanding Professor category is usually more risky than the Special Handling Labor Certification.
      Labor Certification for Non-Teaching Faculty Positions
      If the sponsored employee was initially hired into a position exempt from the University's required recruitment process and if the position does not involve teaching, the University can apply to the Department of Labor for labor certification. If granted, a labor certification permits petition for permanent residence to USCIS. To obtain a labor certification, the University must demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. citizen or permanent resident workers available for the position in question. This is done through a special advertising process, requiring at least four sources of recruitment. The University must also meet Department of Labor salary requirements in order to obtain an approved labor certification. The route to permanent residence through labor certification usually takes between twelve and twenty-four months to complete.
      Labor Certification for Non-Faculty Positions
      HRM will authorize the employee's immigration attorney to initiate an application for labor certification with the Department of Labor. To obtain a labor certificate the University must demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers (U.S. Citizen, Permanent Resident, Asylee, or Refugee) available for the staff position in question. A large majority of University applications based on staff positions succeed, although the success rate is somewhat lower than that for faculty positions at the University, since job qualifications for staff positions are usually less restrictive than those for academic positions. The route to permanent residence through the labor certification usually takes from twelve to twenty-four months to complete.
    3. Option 3 - Procedures for Outstanding Professors/Researchers
      Some tenure track academic faculty and permanent research employees may potentially qualify for lawful permanent residence as "Outstanding Professors" or "Outstanding Researchers," as these terms are defined in the immigration laws.

      Approval of an outstanding professor/researcher petition can be obtained if the University can demonstrate that a sponsored employee has an exceptional record of scholarly achievement in his or her field. More than three years of teaching and/or postdoctoral research experience, a very strong record of publications, superlative evaluations by recognized experts in the field, and the receipt of prizes, awards, or other forms of professional recognition are usually required to obtain approval of an outstanding professor/researcher petition. Simply being able to assemble the required types of evidence outlined in immigration regulations is not sufficient to succeed in this category. The evidence must actually demonstrate that the employee is outstanding. The route to permanent residence through approval of an outstanding professor/researcher petition is relatively short, and can usually be completed in twelve to twenty-four months.
    4. Option 4
      There are two routes to permanent residence which do not require University sponsorship, but where the University can, if it chooses, sign the immigrant petition on behalf of the sponsored employee under appropriate conditions. If the University does not wish to sign Form I-140 in these categories on behalf of the employee, the employee remains free to file on his/her own behalf.

      Petition for Alien of Extraordinary Ability. This category requires that the employee demonstrate that he or she has risen "to the very top of his/her field of endeavor." Approval in this category is quite difficult, and it is therefore disfavored by the University, as easier alternatives are generally available, as set out above.

      Petition Requesting Waiver in the National Interest of the Labor Certification and Job Offer Requirements (National Interest Waiver Petition). This category requires that the employee possess either exceptional ability or an advanced degree in his/her field of endeavor, as well as being engaged in an activity in the U.S. of instrinsic merit and beneficial to our country. The employee must also demonstrate that he/she will have a greater impact on the field than his or her colleagues. As with Extraordinary Ability, the NIW category can be risky, and the employee should first investigate the possibility of University sponsorship, as set out in Options 1 through 3 above.
  5. General University Procedures for PR
    There are usually three steps involved in obtaining U.S. permanent residence on the basis of an offer of employment when an individual is in the U.S. and seeking to adjust to permanent resident status while remaining in the U.S.:
    • Application for Labor Certification filed with the Department of Labor. For teaching positions, the purpose of the labor certification application is to demonstrate that "the employer selected the alien for the job opportunity pursuant to a competitive recruitment and selection process, through which the alien was found to be the "best qualified." For Non-Teaching Positions, recruitment must utilize at least four sources, as set out in Option 2 above, and the alien must be selected as the "only qualified" person in the applicant pool, excluding other non-resident aliens. This step is not necessary for an application filed under the outstanding professor/researcher category.
    • Petition for immigrant classification filed with USCIS (I-140). This is the first step in the application for classification as an outstanding professor/researcher.
    • Application for adjustment of status to that of a U.S. permanent resident filed with USCIS.