Permanent Residence Policy

The University of Oklahoma is able to sponsor full-time, regular, foreign employees in certain university job categories (usually academic or academic support positions) for permanent residence in the U.S.:  
  • U.S. immigration laws do not permit the university to sponsor students, part-time, or temporary employees for permanent residence. 
  • "Regular" employment means "permanent" within the meaning of U.S. immigration law, that is, without a fixed termination point, or indefinite. Some annual appointments may be included within this definition if they are ones that are usually renewed indefinitely, pending only satisfactory performance and continued funding. The university requires a department to have secured funding for such positions for at least three years in the future in order to initiate permanent residence sponsorship.

If the university is able to sponsor a foreign employee for permanent residence, HR International Faculty and Staff Services (IFSS) will initiate a permanent residence application with the U.S. government.  

  • A university-sponsored permanent residence application cannot be initiated without the authorization of IFSS.
  • The permanent residence application process can take from eight months to more than three years to complete, depending on the type of case and fluctuations in government agency processing times. 
  • While most university-sponsored applications succeed, it is not possible in every case to meet the requirements of U.S. immigration law and obtain permanent residence for a sponsored employee.

If you believe that you may meet the requirements outlined below for university sponsorship and would like to pursue permanent residence at the University of Oklahoma, please seek further information appropriate to your situation from IFSS.

Note: If you do not meet the requirements for university sponsorship, you may wish to explore with an immigration attorney the possibility of self-sponsorship for permanent residence under "national interest waiver" or "alien of extraordinary ability" provisions of U.S. immigration law.

Foreign Employees in Academic Positions at the University

The university offers permanent residence sponsorship to full-time, regular, foreign employees in academic job classifications at the university. These positions include professor, associate professor, assistant professor, and research associate (a department must have secure funding for at least three years in the future for the university to sponsor a research associate). The university does not sponsor post-doctoral fellows and lecturers for permanent residence, since these positions are considered temporary and do not carry full university employee benefits.

The university will use the most appropriate of four procedures to obtain permanent residence for a qualified academic employee:

  1. an outstanding professor/researcher petition
  2. an application for labor certification
  3. an application for labor certification with special handling for a faculty teaching position
  4. an application for a national interest waiver.

 

Outstanding Professor/Researcher

Approval of an outstanding professor/researcher petition can be obtained if the university can demonstrate that a sponsored employee has an exceptional record of scholarly achievement in his or her field. More than three years of postdoctoral experience, a very strong record of publication, superlative evaluations by recognized experts in the field, and the receipt of prizes, awards, or other forms of professional recognition are usually required to obtain approval of an outstanding professor/researcher petition. The route to permanent residence through approval of an outstanding professor/researcher petition can take anywhere from eight months to three years.

Labor Certification

If a sponsored employee does not meet the requirements for outstanding professor/researcher approval, the university can apply to the Department of Labor for labor certification. If granted, a labor certificate permits petition for permanent residence to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To obtain a labor certificate, the university must demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. citizens or permanent resident workers available for the position in question. This is done through a special advertising process under the supervision of the Department of Labor. The university must also meet Department of Labor salary requirements in order to obtain an approved labor certificate. Once salary (or "prevailing wage") requirements are met, most university applications for labor certification in the academic job categories succeed, since the positions in question generally require high levels of education and specialized experience in short supply in the domestic labor pool. The route to permanent residence through labor certification usually takes between two and four years to complete.

Labor Certification for Faculty Teaching Positions

The university can apply to the Department of Labor for labor certification under special handling rules for a sponsored employee appointed to a faculty teaching position (as an assistant, associate or full professor). Under special handling rules the university is not required to demonstrate that there were no qualified U.S. citizen or permanent resident workers available for the position, but only that the appointee was the best qualified applicant. The university can usually meet this requirement by presenting to the Department of Labor the details of the University of Oklahoma departmental recruitment process that lead to the faculty appointment. The route to permanent residence through labor certification under special handling rules usually takes between one and four years.

Please note that labor certification applications under special handling rules must be filed with the Department of Labor within 18 months of the sponsored employee's selection for the position. Failure to file within this time period may make it impossible for the university to obtain permanent residence for an employee in a faculty teaching position for a period of several years or longer.

National Interest Waiver

If it can be demonstrated that the work in which an employee is involved is (1) in the national interest and that (2) the employee's continued presence is crucial to the on-going work, the university may be able to obtain a "national interest waiver" for the employee. The possibility of obtaining a national interest waiver is much greater in cases where an interested U.S. government agency provides a letter recommending the waiver. The route to permanent residence through a national interest waiver usually takes between one and three years.

Nonacademic Staff

The University of Oklahoma does not sponsor nonacademic staff positions such as research specialist, programmer-analyst, or laboratory technician for permanent residence.