The Permanent Residence Process: Getting a Green Card
Foreign national employees often wish to pursue Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR), or a “green card.” LPR status allows you to live and work permanently in the United States, as opposed to renewing a non-immigrant visa status every few years. LPR status also allows you to work for any employer in the U.S. The steps you must take to apply for a Green Card will vary depending on your individual situation. Below is information specifically about Employment-Based permanent residence processes. For information about other categories, such as family-sponsored or marriage-based green cards, visit the USCIS website.
Employment-Based Permanent Residence “Greencard” Sponsorship
Employment-based (or EB) permanent residence requires a permanent employment position, such as faculty or staff, and an employer who is willing to sponsor you for this process. The (EB) categories of permanent residence include:
- First preference (EB-1)– priority workers
- Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (EB-1-1);
- Outstanding professors and researchers (EB-1-2); or
- Certain multinational managers and executives (EB-1-3).
- Second preference (EB-2)– foreign nationals who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or who have exceptional ability. This category includes EB-2 with a PERM Labor Certification, and requests for national interest waivers (NIW).
- Third preference (EB-3)– skilled workers, professionals, or other workers.
The most common type of EB process sponsored at UAMS is EB-2 PERM, followed by EB-1-2, for Outstanding Professors and Researchers. Please note that category eligibility must be determined by an approved immigration law firm prior to beginning the process. See the sections linked below for details on the steps involved in these categories.
UAMS Procedure for Beginning an EB Green Card Case
Applying for employment-based permanent residence is a complex process and requires the assistance of an immigration attorney with particular expertise in the area of permanent residence applications for UAMS employees. Because all applications for permanent residence sponsorship are filed on behalf of UAMS (petitioner) and the employee (beneficiary), the outside attorney who will prepare the actual filings must be selected from the UAMS Approved Immigration Attorney List and confirmed by the departmental hiring official. Note: Colleges and/or departments may have internal policies pertaining to sponsorship, so employees seeking an employer-sponsored application should first consult their hiring official regarding eligibility.
While employees may retain their own immigration counsel (at their expense) if they choose, they are required to use a law firm approved by the UAMS Immigration Services Office if they wish to apply for permanent residence based on their employment at UAMS. See UAMS Approved Immigration Law Firms.
Depending on the category of EB process, the hiring department may be required by federal regulation to pay for certain steps. For example, in an EB-2 PERM process, the hiring department must pay for all attorney fees and recruitment costs associated with the first step, the recruitment and PERM Labor Certification, which is often $2500-5000, depending on the law firm. The department may choose to pay additional fees, if desired.
In order to begin a green card process with an approved law firm, the hiring department must email the Immigration Services Manager with the information below. The Immigration Services Manager will then initiate the case with the chosen law firm.
“The Department of ___________________________ would like to sponsor __________ (employee’s name) for employer-based permanent residency. We would like to use ___________________(approved law firm name) for this case. All legal fees and filing fees for the case will be paid as follows: _______________________ (department/employee/shared cost – must provide breakdown if cost will be shared).”
Once You Have Your Green Card
Employees should contact the Immigration Services Office as soon as the permanent resident card is received so that immigration, international tax, payroll and I-9 records can be properly updated.