Legal Permanent Resident for Departments

Also known as green card, Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) simply permits foreign nationals and their dependents to permanently remain and be employed in the U.S. For this purpose, departments assume the role of a sponsor and all the responsibilities associated with the process including: all advertisement and recruitment; all costs associated with the preparation, filing and obtaining a labor certification; and record keeping. In addition, departments are required to document that there is a reasonable expectation of continued employment for an indefinite period of time.


Since most positions, with the exception of tenure-line faculty, are not considered "permanent," the following points may be of assistance when considering sponsorship:

  • Funding source(s) that are limited and non-renewable should be weighed as a negative factor
  • Positive factors include multiple funding sources that are renewable and overlapping
  • An established track record of securing on-going funding
  • Availability of bridge funds to compensate for temporary funding shortfalls



The university will sponsor tenured and tenure-eligible faculty for permanent residence at the request of the appropriate department, when it is endorsed by the School Dean.


Research Staff and non-tenure eligible faculty:

The university will sponsor highly qualified research staff and non-tenure eligible faculty upon the recommendation of his/her department and endorsed by the School Dean and the Provost or the Vice President for Research, respectively. Such a recommendation should be predicated on the following evidence:


  • The individual should have been employed at Northwestern for at least two years, preferably in the same position
  • There is a high likelihood of continued funding for the position for at least three additional years

Non-research staff:

Positions that are not within the domain of the Vice President for Research, may be considered, if the position is deemed to be critical to the functioning of the unit and the individual has been employed at Northwestern for at least two years. Such requests must be submitted to the School Dean or the Vice President in which the employee's office is situated.

Post-doctoral Fellows:

The university will not sponsor post-doctoral employees for permanent residence.

Sponsorship categories

Within the employment based sponsorship, there are two ways to becoming a permanent resident:

  • Outstanding Professor or Researcher
  • Labor certification or PERM


Outstanding Professor or Researcher:

This category is an excellent option for individuals who are:

· Outstanding in their field;

· Recognized internationally as outstanding in a specific academic field;

· Have three years of experience in the academic field;

· Have a job offer.




Eligibility criteria:

To qualify for the Outstanding Professor or Researcher, an individual must show evidence in at least two of the following (authority cite: 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(i)(3)(i)):

  1. Documentation of the alien's receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field.
  2. Documentation of the alien's membership in associations in the academic field which require outstadning achievements.
  3. Published material in professional publications written by others about the aliens work in the academic field. Such material shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation.
  4. Evidence of the alien's participation as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied academic field.
  5. Evidence of the alien's original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field.
  6. Evidence of the alien's authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the academic field.



Process Flow for Outstanding Professor/Researcher:

All forms associated with the LPR can be found here under the 'Departments' heading.
  • Department submits request to IO;
  • IO will have credentials evaluate;
  • If eligibility is determined, IO will notify department and beneficiary of approval;
  • IO will recommend attorney from the list of university approved attorneys;
  • IO will coordinate with attorney in the preparation and filing of the petition.

Note: Only university approved attorneys must be retained. Requests to hire counsel outside of the network will not be entertained.




Attorney costs for such petitions can be paid by the employee or the department (subject to university limits) or a combination of the two.


Processing Time for Outstanding Researcher Petitions:



The processing times will depend on USCIS and the backlog for the year in which the petition was submitted. It is reasonable to expect at least 12 months at the very least.

Permanent Resident through Labor Certification (PERM):



Department of Labor regulations require that employers to test the labor market so that U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not discriminated from the process. The main goal here is to see if there are qualified citizens and permanent residents, and to certify to the Dept. of Labor (DOL) of the labor conditions. While it appears counter-intuitive to advertise for a position that is not vacant, please keep in mind that the primary purpose is to test the market. If no qualified citizen or permanent resident is found, then the labor certification process can proceed.


Optional Special Handling for Faculty:



DOL regulations do make some exception to the testing of the labor market, especially for faculty hires.

This is best suited for tenure-eligible faculty where little or no experience is required, which is in contrast with the Outstanding Researcher category discussed above; it is ideal for any tenured faculty as well. This requires that the university file a labor certification within 18-months of the date of offer predicated on the following:


  • A competitive recruitment was conducted 
  • One print advertisement in a professional journal
  • Additional posting in professional web site or other on-line medium


Note: If a department or the beneficiary misses the 18-month window, or if a print advertisement was not used, then the standard labor certification regulations apply (see under Standard Labor Certification).  

Process Flow for PERM:

  • Department submits request to IO;
  • Upon approval, IO will contact department and beneficiary to select attorney from the list of university approved attorneys;
  • IO will inform attorney of record;
  • IO will coordinate preparation, filing and obtaining labor certification;
  • Upon certification, attorney drafts form I-140 for IO review and signature;
  • Attorney files form I-140, immigrant petition, with United Stated Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS);
  • Upon approval, attorney prepares and files form I-485 (adjustment or "green card") application with USCIS.


Sponsor responsibilities

As a sponsor, departments must

  • Keep all recruitment records for 5 years after the filing of the labor certification, including copies of all advertisements; summary recruitment report and copies of all applications received during the search; and;
  • Pay all costs associated with the preparation, filing and obtaining of a labor certificate (approximately $1,800).  


Standard Labor Certification:

This category is used in the legal permanent resident process to sponsor staff, non-tenure eligible faculty and researchers who meet sponsorship eligibility as per university policy. The regulations are more prohibitive than the labor certification for tenure-eligible faculty in that, every applicant who is minimally qualified must be considered and employers must follow advertisement and recruitment guidelines as established by the Department of Labor.



Sponsorship Responsibilities:

In order for a labor certification to be filed under PERM, the following steps must be taken:

  • Submit request form to the IO;
  • Departments must meet 100% of the prevailing wage as determined by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES);
  • Non-research staff position descriptions must be approved by HR;
  • Pay all costs associated with the preparation, filing and obtaining a labor certification including attorney fees and advertisements (ranging from $3,000 - $5,000);
  • All minimally qualified individuals as stated in the job advertisements and the IDES posting must be considered;
  • Can reject applicants per guidelines
  • All laid-off employees from similar positions must be notified
  • Complete resume review spreadsheet
  • Records must be kept for five years 


  • Must advertise in the following: 2 Sunday Tribune or 1 Sunday Tribune and 1 professional journal, and
  • Three additional sites to include the following:
    1. E-Recruit for staff positions;
    2. University Career Services web site for positions that require 0-1 year of experience;
    3. Website of a professional journal;
    4. Chicago Reader; or
    5. Career Builder.

Hint: By advertising in the Chicago Tribune, a posting is included in Career Builder; therefore, only two additional sites are required. Typically, E-Recruit for staff positions; a web site of a professional journal (for research positions) and the Chicago Reader meet the regulatory requirement.

Process flow:

  • Submit request to IO;
  • Upon approval, IO will notify department and beneficiary;
  • IO will request beneficiary to select a university approved attorney;
  • IO will notify attorney of approval and to begin the process;
  • IO coordinates with attorney and department on the job description;
  • Once approved, IO will post job with State Work Force Agency (SWA);
  • Attorney will coordinate with department to advertise (as described) and begin the recruitment process;
  • After recruitment period, department selects and offers position;
  • Sponsoring department prepares a recruitment summary report;
  • Attorney drafts labor certification and submits to IO for review;
  • Upon approval, attorney files labor certification with Department of Labor (DOL);
  • Upon certification, attorney prepares and submits form I-140 (immigrant petition) to IO;
  • IO reviews and signs the I-140;
  • Attorney submits to US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS);
  • USICS approves, and attorney files form I-485 (adjustment application or "green card").

Record Keeping Requirements: 

The following documents must be kept for five years:

  • Copies of all resumes and applications 
  • Completed resume review sheet (hyper-link)
  • Copy of recruitment report
  • Copies of all advertisements
  • Copy of prevailing wage