Overview

Permanent Residency authorizes a foreign national to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. There are several ways to obtain permanent residency in the U.S, including through a petition from an employer, marriage to a U.S. citizen, or the U.S. Department of State diversity visa lottery program.

The University of Pittsburgh sponsors only selected employment-based permanent residency visa petitions. For permanent residency petitions that are not sponsored by the University, you are advised to contact an immigration attorney.

Employment-based Permanent Residency

There are five categories used to obtain employment-based immigrant visas, of which the University will sponsor the top three. The following table provides an overview of those commonly-used employment-based visa categories. Depending on the category used, an Alien Labor Certification (PERM) may be needed to support the visa petition, which will add time to the overall immigrant visa petition and approval process. An Alien Labor Certification process is used to ensure that there are no qualified, willing, able, available, and interested U.S. workers for the position.

In general, employment-based permanent residency petitions contain three steps: alien labor certification (PERM), immigrant visa petition (form I-140) to set the preference category, and adjustment of status application (form I-485). You should note that first preference petitions do not require PERM; rather, in its stead they require substantial documentary evidence.

Category Who is eligible? Alien Labor Certification Requirement
EB-1a Aliens of extraordinary ability (may self-petition) Not required
EB-1b Outstanding professor or researcher Not required
EB-2
Advanced degree professionals – master’s degree or higher or the equivalent (bachelor’s degree in the field with at least five years of progressive experience in the specialty)
Aliens of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business
National interest waivers (Self-petition only)
Required

(Special Recruitment Labor Certification for teaching faculty within 18 months of selection).

Required
Not required
EB-3: Professional or skilled workers Professionals with a bachelor’s degree who do not qualify for a higher preference category Required

How to Apply for Employment-Based Permanent Residency

All visa petitions sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh are managed by the Office of International Services (OIS). OIS retains sole responsibility in EB-1b category petitions for Outstanding Professors and Researchers and EB-2 category petitions for teaching faculty within 18 months of initial offer of hire (Special Recruitment Labor Certification). OIS also retains responsibility for submitting other EB-2 and EB-3 petitions after the alien labor certification has been completed by an outside immigration attorney. Please see Guidelines Regarding the Use of an Outside Immigration Attorney for further information and a listing of University pre-approved attorneys. Employees submitting self-petitions (e.g., National Interest Waivers or Aliens of Extraordinary Ability), may also choose from this same list or select their own immigration attorney.

For consideration for EB-1b sponsorship, the first step is for the employee to attend an Eb-1b Information Session. During this session, OIS staff will present the qualifications necessary to for the Eb-1b category.

The potential beneficiary must then submit a Request for Review with supporting documentation to OIS to determine whether the evidence supports moving forward with sponsorship. If OIS finds the evidence is sufficient to support an Eb-1b petition, the beneficiary will be notified and the case will be assigned to the appropriate Immigration Specialist.

For all other EB-2 and EB-3 petitions, the first step is to make an appointment with the Director, OIS, to discuss the overall process, roles, responsibilities, timelines, and costs for the case. When sponsorship by the department has been confirmed, the Director will serve as the guiding immigration specialist throughout the case, beginning with the permanent foreign labor certification.

Permanent Foreign Labor Certification (PERM)

Permanent Foreign Labor Certification is the usual first step in applying for a green card for a University employee and requires the employing unit to prove there are no minimally able, willing, qualified, available and interested U.S. workers to do the job. Labor Certification is used to sponsor internationals in “permanent positions” including, but not limited to, teaching and research-only faculty, research associates, research specialists/technicians, computer systems programmers/analysts, or other staff employees for second and third preference, employment-based permanent residency. A “permanent position” for these purposes is one that is full-time and of indefinite duration in which the employee has the expectation of continued employment. Postdoctoral positions are training positions and as such do not meet this definition.

The positions at the University of Pittsburgh that would support requests for permanent labor certification fall under the general category of “professional occupations,” and within this general category, there is a separate provision for university teachers within 18 months of their initial selection for hire (so called “special recruitment”). To qualify as a “teaching position”, the position must include regular classroom teaching and the hiring unit must be able to document a national search process. For these, the University’s standard procedure is to utilize specialized services through OIS.

For professional occupations other than those for newly-hired university teachers, the employing unit must document that it has adequately tested the labor market in the preceding six months without finding any “able, willing, qualified, available and interested” U.S. workers (i.e., U.S citizens and U.S. permanent residents). The University’s standard procedure is to use an outside immigration attorney in these cases, and it has prepared a short-list of OGC-approved attorneys to select from.

Dependents

Dependents are added to the petition in the final step via separate applications to adjust status to lawful permanent resident (via forms I-485). With this application, dependents may seek authorization for interim employment and/or advance parole to re-enter the U.S. after international travel. These authorizations are granted within about three months of applying and are valid for 1-2 years. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing times for the I-485 may exceed one year for a variety of reasons; consequently, renewals are normally required.

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