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Permanent Residence Overview

The following provides a broad overview of US permanent residence and Tufts University's policies and procedures for sponsoring employees for permanent resident status. In contrast to non-immigrant visa classifications such as the F-1 student or H-1B temporary worker categories, US permanent residence provides individuals with the opportunity to reside in the US indefinitely and to accept employment generally at will. As such, permanent residence can be an important resource and tool for employers seeking to recruit and retain valued international employees.

Persons who are granted permanent residence are often referred to as 'lawful permanent residents,' 'immigrants,' 'resident aliens' and 'green card holders.' There are multiple routes or pathways to permanent residence, and an individual may be eligible to pursue more than one option at the same time. Examples of different routes to permanent residence include family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, and the annual diversity lottery.

Tufts University does offer employment-based permanent residence sponsorship to qualified employees who are identified through the following policy. (Note that this policy covers permanent residence eligibility categories for which Tufts is required to act as a legal sponsor for an individual employee as the beneficiary. Employees who qualify for permanent residence on a basis independent of their employment at Tufts may do so with the advice and assistance of their own immigration attorney.)

  • Schools and divisions are responsible for approving any sponsorship requests that help to facilitate recruitment and retention needs. In most cases, a department will initiate a sponsorship request by seeking the approval of a school Dean (or division Vice President) to seek permanent residence on behalf of an individual employee. Requests from any individual employee will not be considered without the support of the employee's department and school / division.
  • University sponsorship is restricted to full-time employees hired to permanent (i.e., continuously renewed) teaching, research or other positions for which sponsorship is needed to meet critical staffing needs and recruitment priorities (see below). These restrictions are based in federal regulations which limit employer-sponsored options to full-time, permanent employees.
  • The department is expected to maintain any sponsored employee in the sponsored employment position for at least three years into the future once the sponsorship process has been initiated.
  • The department is responsible for identifying a department manager who will be responsible for coordinating the sponsorship process under the guidance of a University-approved immigration attorney.
  • The department is required to have financial resources available to meet any legal and recruitment costs (including attorney fees, US government filing fees, and other related expenses) that Tufts, as the employer, is required to cover.

Prior to offering permanent residence sponsorship to an individual employee, the interested department should arrange a consultation with an International Center staff member to discuss sponsorship procedures, estimated costs and timelines.

Location Medford / Somerville, Cummings, SMFA Boston Health Sciences
International Center Contact Andrew Shiotani, Director
Andrew.Shiotani@tufts.edu
Ghenwa Hakim, Associate Director
Ghenwa.Hakim@tufts.edu

Sponsorship Eligibility Considerations

Federal regulations restricts Tufts to offering sponsorship only to employees hired to permanent, full-time positions. Employees hired to part-time, temporary, or visiting positions are not eligible for employer-based sponsorship. Under Tufts policy, sponsorship is offered for the positions indicated below.

Eligible Positions

  • Tenured or tenure-track faculty or full-time faculty on continuous appointment or renewal
    • Faculty hired to tenure-level positions or to positions that are open to continuous re-appointment are eligible for University sponsorship for permanent residence
  • Non-teaching research positions of a full-time, permanent nature only
    • Tufts will consider sponsorship of these positions following a minimum of one year of full-time employment at Tufts and ONLY if the employment is expected to last at least three years into the future in a Research Associate rank or higher

Non-academic positions of a largely administrative or technical nature are generally not eligible for sponsorship. However, requests will be considered on an individual, case-by-case basis at the request of the employee's department or hiring unit and with the written approval of the school Dean or division Vice President. Schools and divisions should carefully the considerable financial and administrative burdens the sponsorship process may impose on hiring units, and sponsorship approvals should be made only if there are extraordinarily compelling talent recruitment and retention needs that justify a sponsorship process for a non-faculty or research position. In most cases, the sponsored employee will be hired to a full-time exempt position in an occupational area for which the University is unable to hire qualified US or non-sponsored employees. Additionally, the position must require the minimum of a bachelor's degree in a specific area.

Positions that Do Not Require Tufts Approval

In certain cases, employees may be eligible to pursue permanent residence without requiring Tufts to act as a sponsor. Examples include:

  • Family-based (FB) permanent residence, e.g., permanent residence based on marriage to a US citizen or permanent residence
  • 'Self-petitioning' employment-based (EB) categories such as the EB-1 Extraordinary Ability and EB-2 National Interest Waiver*
  • Permanent residence based on selection through the annual Diversity Lottery (DV)
  • Other special categories that do not require an employer to serve as sponsor

*These categories are available to highly skilled and accomplished individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability in the arts and sciences and/or who are engaged in research or related activities that might be considered in the national interest of the US.

Any employee who is eligible for permanent residence in one of the above categories may do so on their own, using an immigration attorney of their choosing. Prior approval by the International Center or the employee's school or department is not required. However, depending on the category, the employee may ask his or her department or other personnel to provide support letters or related documentation - such as an employment verification letter, salary confirmation letter, or a recommendation letter attesting to the employee's professional accomplishments and standing. In any case, the employee is directly responsible for managing any legal and administrative requirements and for covering any legal costs associated with their permanent residence applications. Schools - with the Dean's approval - may, but are not required to, contribute financial resources to assist the employee in defraying the legal costs associated with these petitions. Schools are recommended to develop policies to ensure consistent treatment of requests of this nature.

The permanent residence sponsorship process is complex and can incur significant legal costs, including the costs of hiring a qualified immigration attorney as well as US government filing fees. The exact cost of a sponsorship process will depend on a number of factors, including the employee's position, the eligibility basis for permanent residence, and other variables such as changes to US government filing fees.

Prior to embarking upon the sponsorship process, it is critical for hiring units to be aware of potential costs and to discuss with the individual sponsored employee regarding any division of responsibility for covering legal fees and costs. Departments are recommended to consult with the International Center regarding estimated costs, and to communicate in writing to the individual employee the extent of fee responsibility as a part of a sponsorship plan.

Fee Responsibility

The cost of a permanent residence sponsorship process varies depending on the type of sponsorship pursued on behalf of the employee.

Petitions Requiring a PERM Labor Certification

Most, although not all, sponsorship petitions (especially for teaching faculty) involves three stages, including (1) a PERM labor certification through the US Department of Labor followed by (2) filing of Form I-140 and (3) Form I-485 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The PERM labor certification is not required in every sponsorship case, but is a common element of many employment-based permanent residence petitions in higher education contexts. The table below indicates the main cost components for each step of the process, as well as fee responsibility

Cost Component PERM Labor Certification* Form I-140** Form I-485**
Labor Market Test (Advertisement Costs) Employer N/A N/A
Attorney Fees Employer Employer or Employee Employer or Employee
Required US Government Filing Fees N/A Employer or Employee Employer or Employee
Optional Premium Processing Fee N/A Employer or Employee N/A

*PERM Labor Certification

The PERM labor certification is a process required for many, although not all, permanent residence sponsorship processes. In brief, the labor certification is a process whereby the US Department of Labor reviews, and approves, an employer's attestations regarding a particular employment position - including wages, work location, and duties - and the manner of recruitment used to fill the position. Through the labor certification, the employer attests that the selected international employee was the most qualified person for a position that requires teaching duties, or that there were no qualified US workers for a position that does not require teaching. In many cases, a labor certification will require a labor market test to determine the qualifications of the international employee against other submissions within an applicant pool formed in response to a series of  job postings and advertisements.

Tufts departments acting as the employer for an international employee are obligated to pay for all costs associated with PERM labor certifications. PERM fees include immigration attorney fees as well as the cost of any job advertisement costs needed to conduct a labor market test for the purpose of satisfying the Department of Labor's labor certification requirements. Petitions requiring a PERM labor certification must use one of the Tufts-approved immigration attorneys authorized to act on behalf of the Tufts hiring unit and employee in this process,

**I-140 and I-485 Filing Fees

Responsibility for filing fees for other segments of the permanent residence process - including filing and attorney fees for the I-140 Petition for Alien Worker and the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status - can be borne by the employer, the employee, or both. The precise distribution of fee responsibility should be decided by the hiring unit in consultation with the employee prior to embarking on the sponsorship process. For a process requiring a labor certification, the Tufts-approved attorney must be used for the filing of Form I-140. The employee may choose to identify another immigration attorney to assist with completion of Form I-485 if the employee is assuming the cost of that stage of the process.

Dependents and Other Costs

The immigration filing fees for any dependent family members accompanying the principal foreign national employee in the sponsorship process are the responsibility of the individual employee.

In addition, there may be other incidental charges associated with the sponsorship process, including incidental administrative fees, express mail / delivery charges, fees for reproduction or translation of educational and professional records, medical examination fees, passport fees, etc. In general, the department will assume responsibility for incidental costs associated with the PERM labor certification and any other process relating to Tufts's role as the sponsoring employer; the individual employee will be responsible for assuming costs relating to the maintenance and reproduction of their personal records, documents, and files.

When Tufts sponsors an employee for permanent residence, the University will be required at different stages to sign legal attestations and petition regarding the employee's position, duties, wages, and other relevant information. These attestations and petitions will be prepared by the immigration attorney assigned to the particular case.

Under University procedure, the designated signatory in all cases shall be the Dean of the employee's school or Vice President for employees in administrative units. If the Dean is the sponsored employee, then the Provost or the Provost's designate shall be the signatory.

Employment-based permanent residence sponsorship is a highly complex, structured, and time-sensitive legal process that requires hiring units to accept significant administrative and financial responsibilities. Departments should not initiate sponsorship unless they are prepared to meet the following requirements:

  • Designate a department manager responsible for
    • Coordinating all mandatory processes and facilitating communication between the school Dean and department chair, the University's designated immigration attorney, and the employee
    • Responding in a timely fashion and following specific instructions from the designated immigration attorney and/or the International Center
    • Managing any billing processes related to payment of Tufts's share of required legal and related costs
  • Have sufficient resources and agree to maintain the employee in the sponsored position for up to three years once the sponsorship process has been initiated
  • Notify the designated immigration attorney and the International Center in the event the employee's position is terminated, undergoes significant change (e.g., promotion, change of duties, etc.)

 

Sponsorship Process: Main Steps

Prior to embarking on a sponsorship process for an individual employee, the employee's hiring department should schedule an initial consultation with the appropriate International Center staff member. This discussion is intended to outline sponsorship requirements, provide an overview of process and timelines, and to clarify questions about administrative and fee responsibility for the different parties involved in the sponsorship process.

(a) Once the department has decided to sponsor an employee, the department must submit a written request on department letterhead, signed by the department chair, to the school Dean (or division Vice President). The letter must confirm that the employee is in a full-time position of a permanent (ongoing and continuous) nature. The following points should be included in the request letter:

  • A formal statement requesting the Dean's approval to initiate a permanent residence sponsorship process for an employee
  • The employee's name and current full-time position title and salary
  • The employee's current primary duties, research areas, special projects or duties, and other significant professional activities and contributions to the University
  • Other considerations supporting the recruitment / retention rationale for offering permanent residence sponsorship to the employee
  • The employee's educational and professional credentials, including any unique skills or abilities, if applicable
  • A statement confirming department's commitment to meeting any financial obligations throughout the sponsorship process
  • A statement confirming the department's designated coordinator for the sponsorship process, including management of any legal processes and paperwork involving the department, the immigration attorney, the employee, and the the International Center

For a template of the Department Request Letter, please contact the International Center.

(b) Upon receiving the letter, the Dean is required to review the letter and sign it to endorse the request, once the Dean is satisfied that the sponsorship helps to satisfy or is consistent with the school's recruitment / retention strategies and objectives.

(c) The endorsed letter should be retained in the employee's department file and a copy should be forwarded to the International Center advisor, along with the employee's CV.

(a) Upon receiving the endorsed Department Letter, the International Center will assign a Tufts-approved immigration attorney to manage the sponsorship petition. The attorney will be provided with the name of the employee and the department's designated coordinator for the sponsorship process. In certain cases the Center may recommend a specific immigration attorney or different attorneys that departments can choose based on the preferred fee schedule, attorney location, and availability.

(b) The attorney is responsible for assessing the recommended sponsorship plan, confirming the appropriate sponsorship eligibility category, and outlining the steps, timelines, and expected procedures in the sponsorship process. Any adjustments to original estimates and expectations regarding timelines and fee responsibility should be reconfirmed at that time in writing with all relevant parties (department, employee, and attorney).

In many, although not all, employment-based permanent residence sponsorship cases, Tufts may be required to file a PERM Labor Certification as described in Section (B), above. The labor certification is a process whereby the US Department of Labor establishes that there were insufficient US workers who were able, willing, qualified, and available to fill the position being offered the international employee, at the time and location where the employee is to be employed. In addition, the labor certification establishes that the employment of the international employee will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers.

The immigration attorney designated to manage the sponsorship of a particular international employee will determine if Tufts needs to file a labor certification. If needed, the attorney will further determine if Tufts is required to conduct a labor market test - or a 'recruitment' - prior to filing the labor certification. In the permanent residence context, recruitment involves a test of the labor market to see if there are any able, willing, and qualified US workers available to fill the position. If the immigration attorney indicates that a recruitment is needed for a particular employee, the sponsoring department will be responsible for managing the process under the direction of the immigration attorney. Please note: departments should not initiate standard HR recruitment processes without first obtaining guidance from the attorney and/or the International Center.

There are two types of recruitments - a "special" (or "special handling") recruitment available for employees with college/university teaching duties; and a "basic" (or "standard") recruitment. In both cases, the department will be required to advertise the position in one or more venues, such as national journals, local newspapers, and other sites; provide current employees with notice of intent to file a labor certification on behalf of an international employee; and directly collect and evaluate any applications received in response to the advertisement(s). Note: it is the department's responsibility to collect and evaluate applications; this is not to be done by the individual employee, the immigration attorney, or other outside parties. Because the recruitment process it is critical to the success of a labor certification and permanent residence sponsorship, the department should follow the specific instructions from the immigration attorney regarding all aspects of the process.

 

Once an immigration attorney has been assigned and started work on the petition, the attorney will be responsible for managing any required recruitment or sponsorship process. However, at different stages the International Center may become involved if any of the following arise:

  • questions regarding University policy and responsibility in the sponsorship process
  • securing signatures from Deans or Vice Presidents on Form G-28, Form I-140, etc.
  • coordinating, with the department, attorney and other University offices (such as University Counsel), any questions stemming from unique legal situations such as a Department of Labor audit

In addition, the International Center is responsible for providing ongoing advising and services to the employee regarding their current non-immigrant status, if applicable.

Once the employee has been granted permanent residence, the employee should notify all appropriate parties, including the International Center, by providing a copy of a Permanent Residence Card, an I-797 Notice of Action confirming approval of the I-485 adjustment of status application, or proof of entry into the US with an immigrant entry visa accompanied by an I-551 authorization. In addition, the employee should complete a new Form I-9 Employment Verification Form with TSS to indicate the new employment authorization basis.