U.S. Permanent Residency (Green Card)

The office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) assists Georgia State University departments in recruiting and retaining quality faculty and staff by filing permanent residency petitions for international employees.  Once a department identifies an international employee (or “foreign national”) it wishes to sponsor, the department should seek consultation with ISSS to determine sponsorship feasibility and strategy.ISSS will review all requests and advise departments accordingly.  Furthermore, ISSS will complete and submit all documentation as required by law on behalf of the University.  Throughout the process, ISSS’ duty is to not only assist the international employee and department, but most importantly to protect Georgia State’s long term ability to file permanent residency petitions.

Policy Statement Regarding Sponsorship for U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident Status and H-1B Specialty Occupation (PDF)

U.S. Permanent Residency FAQ


Permanent Residency is an immigration status conferred by the government agency U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on an international citizen that allows him/her to live and work in the U.S. permanently.  This “permanent” ability to remain in the U.S. is what distinguishes a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), also known as a “green card” holder or “immigrant,” from a temporary or “non-immigrant” visa holder (i.e., a person in the U.S. in the status of H-1B, J-1, O-1, etc.).

There are several ways a foreign national can become a Legal Permanent Resident of the United States, including through employment, family, ability, and the visa lottery. Of these routes to a green card, ISSS is authorized by the University to file permanent residency petitions for GSU employees on the basis of employment only.

In the majority of cases, three steps are required.  First, ISSS will file a Labor Certification Application (ETA Form 9089) with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).  The labor certification establishes the University’s recruitment efforts with regard to the foreign national’s position and provides other important information regarding the position and the foreign national’s qualifications.  DOL must approve this application before ISSS can advance to the next step*.  Second, ISSS will file a form known as the I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with USCIS.  This is the University’s petition on behalf of the foreign national for permanent residency.  Third, once the I-140 petition is approved, the foreign national can file the I-485 Form, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.  The I-485 is the individual’s personal petition for permanent residency and is therefore filed by the individual, not Georgia State.

*When the foreign national qualifies for the EB-1 category (discussed below), ISSS can skip the first step and proceed directly to step two (filing the I-140).  Please see the EB Categories Chart below for more information.


ISSS will contact you when a new international faculty member, staff member, or researcher has been sponsored for H-1B or O-1 to discuss the new hire’s eligibility for permanent residence sponsorship.  If the foreign national is eligible, you can begin the permanent residency process by scheduling an appointment with ISSS Scholar Advisor Jenny Callahan (jcallahan@gsu.edu; 404-413-2070).  The Department Head/Sponsor, Business Manager/Administrator, and International Employee should plan to attend the meeting.

At the appointment, Jenny will determine the appropriate filing category and provide the department with a checklist and timeline specific to the employee’s case.  The Business Manager and Department Head will complete the Permanent Residency Approval and Intake Form (PDF) . The department and employee will then begin gathering and submitting documents.  The department should discuss who will pay what fees within the department, and must pay the promised wages and continue to employ the foreign national until permanent residency is approved.

Is our employee eligible for PR sponsorship?

Georgia State University can sponsor foreign nationals who have an offer of full-time, permanent employment or tenure, including faculty and staff members.  Please see below for more details regarding those GSU positions that are eligible, and ineligible, for PR sponsorship.

Faculty

All faculty members and any teaching positions considered a full-time, permanent appointment are eligible to begin the permanent residency process as soon as they are under Georgia State University H-1B sponsorship.

 

Staff

Staff members must hold a permanent, full-time position at the University and must have been employed at Georgia State University in H-1B or O-1 visa classification for at least two years in order to be eligible for sponsorship by the University.  There are no exceptions to this policy for staff members. (See chart below for more clarification on staff eligibility for permanent residency sponsorship)

 

Research Positions

Even though generally not tenure-earning, researchers may be sponsored for permanent residency so long as their position is for a term of indefinite or unlimited duration in which there is an expectation of continued employment (absent good cause for termination).

 

Per University Policy, the following positions are not eligible for permanent residency sponsorship:

Ineligible Positions

Acting, Temporary, or Visiting Positions

“Acting, temporary, and visiting” assignments will not be considered for permanent residency.

 

Administrative Support Staff

Administrative support staff positions will not be considered for PR sponsorship.

 

Staff Positions Not Requiring a Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree

Most staff positions at GSU do not require a bachelor’s degree or higher for employment.  In most cases, a bachelor’s degree is only preferred, but not required.  Any position with a minimum hiring standard of a combination of education and experience is acceptableis automatically disqualified from being sponsored for permanent residency.

 

Postdoctoral

Postdoctoral positions will not be considered for permanent residency.

 

Once determined eligible, faculty and staff members must also fit into a specific Employment-Based (“EB”) Category in order for GSU to sponsor them.  These categories are created by the government (USCIS), and not the University.  Each foreign national applying for LPR status on the basis of employment must prove that he/she meets one of these categories.

Category

Description

Other Considerations

EB-1(B)

 

Outstanding Researcher or Professor

This category is for the researcher or professor who:

  • Has a minimum of 3 years of experience teaching/researching in current field
  • Is internationally recognized as outstanding in his/her academic field
  • Has received major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field
  • Is a member of associations in the academic field that require outstanding achievements of their members
  • Has published material and professional publications written by others about his/her work in academic field
  • Has participated as the judge of work of others in same or similar academic field
  • Has contributed original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the field
  • Has authored scholarly books or articles in academic field
  • Has 5-10 field experts who can write opinion letters on his/her behalf
  • May only use this category if all the criteria are met
  •  Must have an offer of full-time, permanent employment that is tenure track or the equivalent status as a researcher
  • No labor certification is required
  • May be best option for scholars from China and India

EB-2

 

Advanced Degree Holder – Special Handling

 

(Teachers)

This category is for the faculty member who:

  • Engages in classroom teaching
  •  Was selected as the most qualified applicant for the position, pursuant to a competitive recruitment and selection process
  • Has been working for GSU for less than 18 months
  • A job offer is required
  •  Labor Certification is required
  • Most GSU filings are under this category
  • Often the best path to permanent residency
  • Must start process within 18 months of the job offer (date on job offer letter)

EB-2

 

Advanced Degree Holder– Standard Filing

This category is for the professional staff or faculty member who:

  • Has an Advanced Degree (above a  Bachelor’s) – OR- Has a Bachelor’s Degree + 5 years of experience     –AND
  • Has worked for GSU for at least 2 full years
  • Is employed in a position that requires at least an Advanced Degree (M.A., M.S., Ph.D., etc.) or a Bachelor’s Degree + 5 years experience, as determined by Human Resources
  • A job offer is required
  • Labor Certification is required
  • Must prove that no minimally qualified U.S. citizen is available for the job
  • Must advertise 30 days with the DOL and use 5 other forms of recruitment
  •  Must complete recruitment in 180 days
  • Often very expensive and difficult path to permanent residency

EB-3 

 

Professional

This category is for the staff member who:

  • Has a Bachelor’s Degree
  • Is employed in a position that requires a Bachelor’s Degree as determined by Human Resources

  • Labor certification is required
  • Job offer is requiredMust prove that no minimally qualified U.S. citizen is available for the job
  •  Very expensive and difficult path
  • Few positions at GSU are eligible


ISSS will select the most secure route (i.e., EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3) based on a number of factors, including the nature of the position, the minimum degree requirements for the job, and the foreign national’s educational and professional credentials.  Because the green card process is not fail-safe, EB category selection is ultimately based on the likelihood of success and not the speed of the process.

ISSS will, however, consider any retrogression issues when making an assessment.  By law, each country is allowed a certain number of immigrant visas (green cards) per year, and that allocation is further broken down by EB category.  Some countries – including China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines – produce more than several times the number of applicants allowed each year for particular EB categories, which in turn causes the availability of green cards for these categories to be “retrogressed” or backlogged.  As a result, some EB categories are better options than others for foreign nationals from these countries.

For more information regarding retrogression, please visit: http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html.


The permanent residency process is complex and often lengthy, requiring action by the sponsoring department, the employee, ISSS, and various departments of the U.S. government (including the Department of Homeland Security/USCIS, the Department of Labor, and/or the Department of State).  Each case is different so individual processing times will vary.  The vast majority of PR cases, however, take anywhere from a minimum of18 months to 2 years and up to 4-6 years or more.

The federal government requires certain filing and processing fees to accompany immigration forms (including the I-140), which cannot be waived.  In addition to the mandatory government fees, the University also charges service fees for the work performed by ISSS.  Per University policy, all Georgia State departments are required to use the services of ISSS for immigration matters of international scholars.   The fee schedule is below.  Please note that the “typical attorney fees” information is provided as a reference only.   GSU departments are not permitted to use outside counsel.

Fees to be Paid by Hosting Department

Mandatory Government Fees

University Service Charges

Typical Attorney Fees (for comparison only)

Labor Certification

N/A

$900*

*Must be paid by the sponsoring department; cannot be paid by the employee

$1,800

I-140 Immigrant Petition with Labor Certification

$580

$300

$600

I-140 Immigrant Petition without Labor Certification

$580

$800

$1,500-1,750