An application for permanent residence involves filing numerous forms and extensive documentation in several steps. The individual must demonstrate eligibility under one of the permanent residence categories by filing the appropriate form(s) and supporting documents. The government assigns a "priority date," corresponding to the date of receipt of the first packet of required DOL or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forms.
The priority date determines when USCIS (or DOS in the case of a person residing outside of the U.S.) will accept and/or process the final packet of an individual's permanent residence application under a visa quota system established by Congress. Each month, the DOS issues a bulletin listing priority dates of applications currently being processed in each permanent resident visa category, which can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/greencard.
Visa availability is based on the individual's country of birth, not current citizenship or residence. Each country has an annual limit of 20,000 visas available to its nationals. Applicants born in certain countries may face long waits due to the large number of petitions form that country.
When an application for permanent residence is based on UW-Whitewater employment, the department, the beneficiary, and the Center for Global Education work together on filing the Labor Certification (if required) to the DOL and the I-140 petition for permanent residence to USCIS. Wisconsin state law prohibits the use of outside attorneys for this part of the process.After the approval of the I-140 petition, the individual faculty or staff member must apply either for adjustment of status to permanent resident with the USICS or for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad.
An Adjustment of Status application can be submitted concurrently with the University's I-140, provided visa numbers are available, but consular processing can only be initiated after the I-140 has been approved. The Adjustment of Status part of the permanent residence process in now the faculty/staff member's responsibility. The Center for Global Education only provides basic information on this stage of the process.
In most instances, the individual will not need assistance of an attorney to complete these forms. However, since this step of the process is the employee's, not the University's, there is no prohibition against engaging an attorney, provided the attorney is hired to represent the individual, not the University.
The following is an overview of the steps involved in filing for permanent residence based on a Labor Certification. These steps are done after the search as concluded and an offer and acceptance of the position has occurred.
Center for Global Education
Department of Labor
Center for Global Education