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Permanent Residency Sponsorship

Procedures for Departments

In order for a non-US citizen to live and work in the U.S. permanently, he or she must obtain lawful permanent residence status. As an employer, North Carolina Central University (NCCU) can pursue employment-based permanent residence status for any employee whom the university intends on retaining beyond the duration of their temporary visit. Sponsorship for permanent residence (PR) or a “green card” requires a significant commitment of University resources.  Governmental agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of State (DOS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are responsible for administering and regulating this immigration process.  Applying for permanent residency involves multiple steps and can take years to obtain.  The University cannot control the amount of time it takes to obtain permanent residence. 

NCCU sponsors two categories for PR only – (1) Teaching Faculty under Optional Special Recruitment (previously known as Special Handling) and (2) Outstanding Professors and Researchers.  NCCU does not provide sponsorship in cases where an individual can self-petition, such as for National Interest Waivers or Extraordinary Ability.  The following information serves as a guide to NCCU’s policy and procedures for the permanent residency application process for these categories.  The Office of International Affairs (OIA) is here to assist departments with this process.  Departments are prohibited by NC Statute from using outside attorneys when the employer, NCCU, is the legal petitioner of the immigration case.

PolicyUnder Optional Special Recruitment for teaching faculty, the DOL requires that a labor certification application be filed within eighteen (18) months of the final selection of the candidate and NCCU must be able to prove to the DOL that the foreign national selected for sponsorship is more qualified than any U.S. worker who applied for the position.  DOL regulations also require that the individual sponsored must have an offer of full-time, permanent employment as defined by USCIS to be considered for lawful permanent residence.  USCIS defines permanent as “tenured, tenure-track or for an indefinite or unlimited duration of which employee has expectation of continued employment unless there is good cause for termination.”  Therefore, NCCU sponsorship will be given under the following conditions:
  • When the employee is in a full-time, tenure-track, teaching position (actual classroom teaching), there is a compelling institutional need and the employee demonstrates commitment to the University’s academic mission and interests.

Departments should never promise sponsorship before hiring as the above conditions and following procedures must be met.  Only the Provost on the recommendation of the Director of OIA can approve requests for sponsorship, and no commitments to sponsor international faculty for permanent residence may be made without prior approval from the Provost’s office.

Procedures for Labor Certification under PERM

  • Sponsorship should be initiated by the hiring department through communicating to its Dean or Director its wishes to sponsor a foreign national for permanent residency.  A written request must then be submitted by the Academic Dean or Research Director to the Provost along with the justification that includes a comprehensive work plan for the faculty member. 
  • If the request is approved by the Provost, the Office of International Affairs will be notified and the hiring department should prepare and submit to the Office of International Affairs for review, the proper documentation for the Department of Labor Audit (DOL) File as outlined in the checklist below.  Because the audit file documentation pertains to the faculty search, this information is not to be submitted by the faculty member being sponsored, but by someone else designated by the Department to collect the documentation.
  • The documentation will be reviewed in the Office of International Affairs and if it meets DOL requirements, a Labor Certification Application will be filed with DOL under PERM.  PERM is the electronic, attestation-based system used to file the foreign labor certification application.  
  • *Note timeline.  Again, under PERM, a special provision for colleges and universities allows the employer to use the results from its own competitive recruitment procedure to select its final candidate.  This is provided the labor certification application is filed * within 18 months of final selection, not the employment start date.  If the labor certification application is not filed within 18 months of final selection, another search must to be conducted and the hiring department and faculty member must be prepared to deal with the ramifications the re-recruitment results may bring.  To ensure appropriate deadlines are met, departments should initiate the process no later than twelve (12) months from the date of the final selection of the candidate.
  • By DOL law, a Prevailing Wage Determination must be obtained from the SWA (State Workforce Agency).  This prevailing wage or salary must be determined before filing the labor certification application.  By law, the foreign national must be paid the prevailing wage. 
  • Notice of the filing must be given to current employees between 30 and 180 days prior to filing the application.
  • All of these steps take time and the 18 month timeframe should be considered carefully to ensure filing can be done in time.  The time it takes for DOL to certify or deny the case for PERM can take up to a year or more.  Many times DOL conducts random audits after the Labor Certification Application is filed, which can also prolong the decision for several additional months.
  • If the application is approved or certified by DOL, the I-140 (Employment Petition) and I-485 Adjustment of Status Petition) can then be filed with USCIS, either separately, the I-140 being first, or concurrently.  
  • USCIS Fees:  The preparation of and cost for filing the I-140 is covered by OIA because it is a university petition.  The cost for filing the I-485 is to be paid by the beneficiary of the petition.  Please see the USCIS website, for a list of current fees.
  • OIA will complete the I-140, as this is a university petition and pertains to the permanent employment of the international faculty member.  The employee, if s/he has questions regarding completion of the I-485 should seek an outside attorney for assistance because this is a non-university petition, and the sole legal responsibility of the international faculty member.


PERM Department of Labor Audit File for Optional Recruitment (Teaching Faculty)

As per the PERM regulations, the items below must be retained in the Audit file (must be there upon the filing of the case) in the event that the Department of Labor (DOL) requests them. If DOL requests them, which they regularly do, DOL will require them within 30 days of the PERM submission.  Failure to provide them can result in denial of the case as well as fines, penalties, and/or supervised recruitment of the university by DOL.

Re:  “Special Handling” (20 CFR, Section 656.18)  (Now known as “Optional Special Recruitment and Documentation Procedures for College and University Teachers”)

1) Documentation to show clearly that the employer selected the alien for the job opportunity pursuant to a competitive recruitment and selection process, through which the alien was found to be more qualified than any of the United States workers who applied for the job.

2) Evidence includes the following “Documentation of the Competitive Recruitment and Selection Process”:

(A)    a statement, signed by an official who has actual hiring authority from the employer, outlining in detail the complete recruitment procedures undertaken, and which must set forth:  the total number of applicants for the job opportunity; the specific lawful job-related reasons why the alien is more qualified than each U.S. worker who applied for the job.  (for example, “Dr. _____had experience in lie theory, one of the requirements in the national ad, and the other applicants who were not selected, Drs._______, ____, ___, did not.”)

3) A final report of the faculty, student, and/or administrative body making the recommendation or selection of the alien, at the completion of the competitive recruitment and selection process (made to the Dean, Department Head or similar executive officer) and also including the information above (total number of applicants for the job opportunity; the specific lawful job-related reasons why the alien is more qualified than each U.S. worker who applied for the job.)

4) A copy of at least one print advertisement for the job opportunity placed in a national professional journal, giving the name and the date(s) of publication; and which states the job title, duties, and requirements.

5) Evidence of all other recruitment sources utilized.

6) A written statement (from the department chairman or head) attesting to the degree of the alien’s educational or professional qualifications and academic achievements.

7) Proof that this application is being filed within 18 months after a selection was made pursuant to a competitive recruitment and selection process.   (Selection date is usually prior to the offer letter – the date on which Human Resources, or whichever division deals with faculty hiring, approved the hiring.)

8) The original posting that was posted for 10 consecutive days in conspicuous locations “at the facility or location of employment.”  Note:  As per 20 CFR Section 656.10, General Instructions, this posting must “be provided between 30 and 180 days before filing the application.”  So, the department should post the notice for 10 consecutive business days, then leave it up a minimum of 30 consecutive business days, and then file the case. Keep in mind how much extra time (40 consecutive business days) this adds to the timing of the case, and track the 18 month deadline accordingly.

Important documents that will be retained in the PERM AUDIT FILE in addition to the documents listed above:

9) Copies of any letters of recommendation for the alien for whom the University is petitioning.

10) Resume, degree(s) of the alien for whom the University is petitioning. (If the degree(s) is a foreign degree, there must be an official translation and official credentials evaluation.)

11) Resumes for all other candidates.  The regulations state that “the certifying officer, after reviewing the employer's recruitment report, may request the U.S. workers' resumes or applications, sorted by the reasons the workers were rejected."


Faculty members who qualify for Outstanding Professors and Researchers are exempt from labor certification; however NCCU is required to petition and submit a Form I-140 to USCIS.  The faculty member must provide evidence that he or she is recognized internationally as outstanding in the academic field specified in the petition.  The faculty member must be tenure-track for teaching or in a comparable position for research in the academic area and also have at least 3 years of experience in teaching or research in a specific academic area. 

Documentation Required

*Qualification for this category must include at least a minimum of two of the following as evidence:
  • Documentation of the alien's receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field;
  • Documentation of the alien's membership in associations in the academic field which require outstanding achievements of their members;
  • Published material in professional publications written by others about the alien's work in the academic field. Such material shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation;
  • Evidence of the alien's participation, either individually or on a panel, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied academic field;
  • Evidence of the alien's original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field; or
  • Evidence of the alien's authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the academic field.

*Letter of Support by the Department Chair or Director (A template letter is available in the International Affairs Office).

*Letters from recognized experts in the field clearly explaining the faculty member’s contributions and standing in the field

*Letters from current/previous employers to demonstrate three (3) years of experience

*USCIS Fees:  The cost for filing the I-140 is covered by the OIA.  The cost for filing the I-485 (any dependents would be included in on his part of the process) is to be paid by the beneficiary of the petition.  Please see the USCIS website, for a list of current fees.

Contact Information

If the international faculty member feels he or she may be eligible for this classification or have further questions regarding any of these procedures, please contact Brenda Lewis, Program Manager, Office of International Affairs, for an appointment.

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