Many scholars are interested in applying for permanent residence while at Washington University in St. Louis. Pursuit of an application for permanent residence is based on the business need for the employee to obtain permanent residence. The university makes a commitment to pursue permanent residence for tenured and tenure-track faculty positions so that we may continue to employ those faculty members. For research and other positions, departments make the decision about whether the need for the employee’s services necessitates an application for permanent residence. The Office for International Students and Scholars coordinates the filing of applications for university-sponsored permanent residence.

How can I apply for permanent residence?

There are many ways to apply for permanent residence, including sponsorship by a relative who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, luck in the diversity lottery, filing an employment-based petition by an employer, or filing an employment-based petition on your own.

What types of permanent residence applications can be filed through Washington University?

Washington University staff can only assist in filing applications that are based on a university-sponsored application for permanent residence. Those applications include:

  • Applications as an outstanding professor or researcher (commonly referred to as “EB-1B”)
  • Applications based on labor certifications (commonly referred to as “PERM”), either for the second or third preference employment category

If you are interested in obtaining permanent residence through the PERM process or an application for an outstanding professor or researcher (i.e., EB-1B), you should follow the procedures for university-sponsored applications below. All university-sponsored applications are coordinated through the OISS.

How do I know if an application is considered a “university-sponsored” application?

An application that requires the signature of a staff member of the university on the I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker is considered a university-sponsored application. Also, any permanent residence application for which Washington University is paying for the fees of an immigration attorney is considered a university-sponsored application. The OISS must review all documents for all university-sponsored applications.

For what positions can an application be made for permanent residence?

Washington University sponsors permanent residence, based on departmental approval, in various positions. The key issue is the “permanent” nature of the position. For this reason, Washington University does not apply for permanent residence for training or temporary positions, such as postdoctoral researchers or clinical fellows. However, if the department is able to commit to a position beyond the training position, an application can be initiated for the future position, with departmental approval.

The university commits to applying for permanent residence for individuals who have been offered tenure-track and tenured positions.

For other positions, the department must approve pursuit of permanent residence for that specific position. Departments have policies about applying for permanent residence for various positions, but critical factors are the business need for the individual and the continued funding for the position.

What should I do if I am interested in pursuing permanent residence?

The first steps to take are to speak to your supervisor and the business manager of your school, department or division. It is not possible to be successful in a university-sponsored application without the support of your direct supervisor.

Your business manager will know departmental policies related to applications for permanent residence. If it is determined that an application is feasible, the department chair (for the School of Medicine, Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering & Applied Science, and for central areas) or the dean (for all other schools) will need to confirm that:

  • The required position exists
  • The department is able to commit to the requisite position for the period required
  • The funds necessary to cover the costs of obtaining permanent residence are available

Once these approvals have been given, the OISS will be able to take further steps to initiate the permanent residence process.

The OISS works with outside immigration attorneys, selected by the Office of the Vice Chancellor and the Office of the General Counsel of the university, to file permanent residence applications. All applications are reviewed by the OISS prior to filing, in coordination with the outside immigration attorney.

What about the use of attorneys for permanent residence?

The Office of the Vice Chancellor and the Office of the General Counsel has standing relationships with specific immigration attorneys to handle the university’s immigration cases. No other attorneys are authorized to represent Washington University in any cases.

I have my own attorney that I prefer to use. How can I do that?

As stated above, the university chooses its own attorneys to handle immigration cases. As an employee you are allowed to retain your own counsel for advice about immigration issues, but no attorneys can file an application on behalf of the university unless the attorney has been approved in advance by the Office of the Vice Chancellor and the Office of the General Counsel.

What about the costs for applications for permanent residence?

The law requires that the costs for labor certification applications, including the recruitment costs and legal fees, be covered by the employer. It is not legal for you or a third party to reimburse these expenses.

All billing for attorney fees is handled through the Office of the Vice Chancellor and the Office of the General Counsel. Those fees are then charged back to the department which is sponsoring the permanent residence application.

Before paying an attorney on your own, you should discuss your situation with the business manager in your department and with the OISS to avoid paying duplicate attorney fees.

What if my department is not able to support my application for permanent residence?

You may decide to apply for permanent residence through a route that does not require university sponsorship, such as a National Interest Waiver (NIW) or Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A). You may make such an application on your own or through an attorney of your choosing. It is recommended that you have an attorney represent you in these types of applications. Any letters, forms or other supporting documentation for immigration applications requiring the signature of a Washington University employee must be reviewed by the OISS.

Who can I talk to about additional questions I have?

For questions about departmental policies, contact the business manager in your department.

For questions about the types of applications that are considered university-sponsored applications, contact the OISS office.