Immigrant (Permanent Visa) Worker

This information is for the University of Houston departments regarding the sponsorship for permanent residency of UH employees in nonimmigrant classification. This information does not constitute legal advice. 

As an employer, UH can pursue permanent residence status or a “green card” for a nonimmigrant whom UH intends on retaining beyond the duration of their temporary visit.  Sponsorship for permanent residence does not constitute a guarantee of lifetime employment or tenure.

Sponsorship for permanent residence requires a significant commitment of UH resources. In addition, employment-based petitions for permanent residence are time-consuming and complex. Consequently, departments requesting authorization to sponsor faculty or staff should begin the process at the earliest possible time. 

UH sponsors four categories for employment-based permanent residency: Outstanding Professor or Researcher; Advanced Degree; Professional; and Exceptional Ability. Two categories that do not require UH sponsorship are Extraordinary Ability and National Interest Waiver.

Before UH will sponsor a nonimmigrant, the employee must have the support of his/her Department Chair and Dean or the equivalent. Understanding the following guidelines will reduce complications that can slow down the process.

I.    Positions the University of Houston System May Sponsor

The University of Houston System (UHS or System) will sponsor an employee for permanent residency only when doing so is in the best interests of the hiring component university.

A.     Faculty Positions

The UHS will sponsor full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty with the title of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, or Clinical Professor.

B.     Research or Clinical Faculty Positions

The UHS will sponsor full-time non-tenure track faculty with the title of Research or Clinical Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor and associate faculty holding the titles of Librarian, Senior Associate Librarian, Associate Librarian and Assistant Librarian. 

C.    Staff Positions

1.    Generally, the UHS will not sponsor staff employees to obtain permanent residency. The Human Resources department, in consultation with the appropriate UHS officials, may authorize exceptions to this policy in accordance with this section.

2.    A permanent resident application for non-academic employees requires a bona-fide job search including posting through Human Resources published job descriptions, print ads, and demonstration that no qualified US worker is available. 

3.    The UHS may sponsor nonimmigrants working in staff positions under the following conditions:

a.    the uniqueness of the position (FLSA exempt-level only) makes the position difficult to fill, and documented evidence concerning the recruitment process is submitted;

b.    the foreign national has been employed in a benefits-eligible, exempt staff position with the component university, without interruption,  for a minimum of three years; and

c.    there is sufficient justification that the proposed nonimmigrant is uniquely qualified through experience, skill, and background for the position. 
 
4.    If one or more of the above conditions is not met, exceptions will be approved only if endorsed by the Provost or Vice President responsible for the department in which the individual is being hired and the Human Resources department. 

II.    Positions the UHS Does Not Sponsor

The UHS will not sponsor part-time faculty with the title of Adjunct, Visiting Faculty or Lecturer, Post-Doctoral or non-exempt staff positions.

III.    Process for Obtaining Approval for UHS Sponsorship

A.    Faculty. To obtain authorization for UHS sponsorship of a nonimmigrant for permanent residence, the Dean of the school or college at which the foreign national will be employed must submit the following information, through the Provost (or designee), to the Human Resources department:

1.    Completion of the Sponsorship of a Foreign National for Permanent Residence Form;

2.    The individual’s curriculum vitae.

B.    Non-faculty. To obtain authorization for UHS sponsorship of a nonimmigrant for permanent residence, the Dean of the school or college at which the foreign national will be employed must submit the following information, through the Provost (or designee), to the Human Resources department:

1.    Completion of the Sponsorship of a Foreign National for Permanent Residence Form;

2.    The individual’s curriculum vitae.

3.    The written request must include a narrative justification for requesting sponsorship that includes plans for the foreign national’s long term employment;

IV.    Timing of Sponsorship Request:

A.    Faculty.  For faculty members who are either tenured or tenure track, sponsorship requests may be made as the hiring department determines that sponsorship is in the best interests of the component university/system. Some faculty may qualify for “special handling” of a petition.  In order to take advantage of the special handling process, the PERM application must be received within 15 months of the date of the offer letter to the individual. 

B.    Non-faculty. Sponsorship requests should generally be made only after the employee has completed at least three years of employment at the component university. Exceptions to this timeframe may be made by Human Resources department on a case-by-case basis.

V.    Retention of Immigration Counsel and Coverage of Expenses Associated with the Sponsorship.

A.    All applications for permanent residence sponsorship are filed on behalf of the UHS University as well as the employee.  The component university/System has retained private law firms to prepare and file the PERM petitions. The department sponsoring the application is responsible for identifying and securing funds to pay for all cost associated with the labor certification process.

B.    While employees may retain their own immigration counsel to represent their interests (at their expense), if they choose, they are not permitted to use any attorney not retained by the component university/System for the PERM (labor certification) process or any other step for which UHS University is paying fees.

C.    The employing department is responsible for all cost associated with the labor certification process.

D.    Only the chief human resources officer (or his/her designee) is authorized to sign permanent resident documents on behalf of the UHS University  Therefore, if you receive any immigration forms requiring an authorized signature, you must forward them to the Human Resources department (send to the Immigration Specialist).