US Permanent Residence

Cornell Policy

Cornell University files petitions for Legal Permanent Residence (Green Card) for international academic staff holding permanent academic positions. Postdoctoral Associates or Fellows and those with "Visiting" or "Temporary" in their title are not considered to be permanent employees and would not qualify for Cornell sponsorship. Please note that Cornell University does not allow outside attorneys to represent the institution in employment-based permanent residency cases except under very limited circumstances. In such circumstances, there is a review and approval process. Please contact the ISSO for information.

Some of the options for those who do not qualify for Cornell sponsorship include:

  1. Family relationship (e.g. marriage to a US citizen)
  2. Diversity lottery program
  3. An independent self-petition under priority worker categories, National Interest Waiver (NIW) or Extraordinary Ability. Note: in these cases, Cornell may NOT be named as petitioner or sponsor.

Most Cornell permanent residency petitions utilize the EB-1 Priority Worker category, "Outstanding Professors and Researchers". However, in some cases, we may recommend that an applicant pursue permanent residence via Labor Cerification (PERM). Please see a side-by-side comparison of the two employer-based filing methods we utilize.

The ISSO will consult with each applicant in order to determine the best possible steps towards permanent residency for that individual. Interested staff must schedule an appointment to discuss eligibility and filing procedures before the ISSO will process a permanent residency petition. (Please write "PR Appointment Request" in the subject line, and visa status and University title in the body of the message.)

Outstanding Professor/Researcher (EB-1)

To meet basic eligibility requirements for this category, the applicant must have a permanent job offer in a Cornell academic position.  (Note:  Postdoctoral Associates or Fellows and those with “Temporary” in their title are not considered to be permanent employees and would not qualify for this program.  Research Associates generally qualify for sponsorship. The applicant must also have at least three years of experience in teaching and/or research in the academic field. Experience in teaching or research while working on an advanced degree is only acceptable if the person achieved the degree, and if the teaching duties were such that the applicant had full responsibility for the class taught, or if the research conducted toward the degree had been recognized as outstanding. Finally, a petition containing evidence that the professor or researcher is recognized internationally as outstanding in their academic field must be contructed.

This type of filing requires 2 support letters from the hiring unit/department, but otherwise the documentation is collected and put together by the applicant. The ISSO will:

  1. Provide instructions to the applicant in how to collect and best arrange evidence for the I-140 petition
  2. Review the evidence before submission to USCIS and provide feedback.
  3. Complete the I-140 petition and send with supporting evidence to USCIS. (Applicant or Department pays filing fee of$700, payable to DHS)
  4. Scan and email the resulting I-797 receipt notice to the applicant (generally, within 3 business weeks).

The applicant will then have the option of filing the I-485 Adjustment Petition ($1225) with either a copy of the I-797 receipt, or upon approval of the I-140. Permanent Residence status is granted on USCIS approval of the I-485 adjustment petition Note: For dependent family members, an I-485 Adjustment Petition (with appropriate fee) is submitted for each dependent, along with the principle applicant's I-485.

It is not possible to predict the date for approval of US Permanent Residency. Timing depends upon USCIS processing times. However, Outstanding Professor/Researcher cases typically take eight months to two years, with most falling somewhere between these extremes.

 

DOL Labor Certification Petition (PERM) Overview

PERM POLICY: The ISSO will file PERM petition for cases in which the Hiring Department/Unit's search for the position has been completed and already meets Department of Labor requirements. ISSO will not assist departments in preparing for or conducting new searches.

This form of processing a rarely used at Cornell because the majority of our applicants qualify for permanent residence via "Outstanding Professors and Researchers," a "Priority Worker" category which allows us to bypass the Labor Certification process. Applying for permanent residence via Labor Certification (PERM) is complicated and lengthy. In order to succeed, Cornell must show the US Department of Labor that a search that met DOL reqirements was completed. Petitions will be rejected by the DOL if there is any indication that the job advertisement and/or job description were tailored to make only the successful applicant appear qualified.

There are two types of PERM petitions:

  1. Special Handling: For Professors and Teachers only. Teaching must be 20% of job duties. The offer to the successful applicant can not have been made more than 18 months previously, and the evidence must show that the successful applicant was the most qualified to have applied. Normal Cornell search requirements generally fall within the standards set by the US DOL for Special Recruitment cases.
  2. Regular Recruitment: For all others. The offer to the successful applicant can not have been made more than 6 months previously, and the evidence must show that the successful applicant was the only qualified applicant. Application materials must be received by ISSO within 3 months of an offer being made to the successful applicant. Normal Cornell search requirements do not meet Department of Labor guidelines. Thus, additional recruiting must be done to meet DOL PERM guidelines for a non-teaching position. The ISSO can not assist departments in the recruitment process.

Labor Certification (PERM) Process

In PERM cases, the applicant may not participate in gathering documentation for the Department of Labor portion of the process. The hiring unit/department is responsible for this (first) step in the process. The ISSO will:

  1. Provide instructions to the department in how to collect and arrange evidence for the PERM filing
  2. Review the PERM evidence before submission to the DOL.
  3. On submission, send the PERM email receipt to the applicant/employee
  4. On PERM approval, request I-140 support materials (data, support letter, filing fee of $700, payable to USCIS, CV and diploma) from the applicant.
  5. Mail the I-140 to USCIS with supporting materials and with original PERM approval.
  6. Scan and email the resulting I-797 receipt notice to the applicant (generally, within 3 business weeks)

The applicant will then have the option of filing the I-485 Adjustment Petition ($1225) with either a copy of the I-797 receipt, or upon approval of the I-140. Permanent Residence status is granted on USCIS approval of the I-485 adjustment petition Note: For dependent family members, an I-485 Adjustment Petition (with appropriate fee) is submitted for each dependent, along with the principle applicant's I-485.

It is not possible to predict the date for approval of US Permanent Residency via the PERM process. Timing depends upon DOL and USCIS processing times. However, Labor Certification (PERM) cases typically take one to three years, with most falling somewhere between these extremes.