Permanent residence

A visitor can become a permanent resident in the U.S. by using family-sponsored, employment-based or public-policy/humanitarian immigration.

Employment-based immigration is limited by Section 201 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act to about 140,000 visas per year. Those visas are allocated among countries of origin. The limit per country is seven percent of the visas, or about 25,620 per country. Some categories and countries become oversubscribed, and queues develop. In recent years, China, India, Mexico and the Philippines have been the most affected.

There are five employment-based immigration preferences. Only the first three categories are designed for academic settings:

  • EB-1: Aliens with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers.
  • EB-2: Members of the professions holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.
  • EB-3: Skilled workers, professionals and other workers.

To qualify for lawful permanent residence in the second or third category, you generally must have permanent labor certification and an offer of permanent, full-time employment from a U.S. employer.

Employment-based permanent residence applications where MU is the sponsor must be filed by an attorney authorized to represent the university.

Permanent labor certification is granted by the Department of Labor. It certifies two findings per INA §212(a)(5)(A):

  • There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified and available to accept a particular position.
  • Employing a foreign worker in the given occupation will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers employed in that occupation.

Certain exceptions can apply to the permanent-labor certification, such as Schedule A and a national interest waiver. Schedule A includes certain occupations for which there aren’t enough U.S. workers who are willing, able, qualified and available, as determined by the Department of Labor.

Please keep in mind that the application for labor certification for a teaching faculty member must be filed within 18 months of the letter of offer. If your department plans to file for permanent residency, plan to contact an authorized attorney during your first semester of teaching in order to learn more about this process.