Legal Permanent Residency (aka "Green Card")
U.S. permanent residency, also known as a “green card” is a highly complicated and subjective process which involves a significant number of variables, including an individual’s citizenship, nature of work and specialization, as well as professional and academic credentials. As a result, it is not possible to provide a “one size fits all” outline of the permanent residency process given the number of variables at play.
Permanent residency in the U.S. is qualified for by either an employment-based (“EB”) or family-based (“FB”) set of criteria. There are also multiple levels of employment-based sponsorship that vary based on an individual’s own unique background and professional credentials.
The University of Massachusetts system (including all UMass campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and the Chan Medical School) policy pertaining to permanent residence sponsorship is such that any/all newly hired tenure-track faculty (TTF) will be automatically and immediately referred to retained outside immigration counsel to begin the permanent residency process, in conjunction with sponsorship for another more expedient temporary immigration status to facilitate an initial hiring date (generally the H-1B visa). TTF hiring departments are obligated by the UMass system policy to absorb the legal and government expenses and fees related to the university’s sponsorship of the permanent residency process through adjudication of the first stage of the said process known as form “I-140.”
For any other consideration of permanent residency sponsorship for UMass employees who are not tenure-track faculty, a separate collective approval process applies, which is overseen and administered by parties including the employee’s Supervising Manager or Chair; Department Head or Dean; the appropriate Vice Chancellor or Associate Provost of the department unit; the Vice Chancellor for Human Resources; the International Programs Office and ultimately the Office of Legal Counsel’s immigration counsel.
Additionally, the following UMass employment-based permanent residency sponsorship requirements apply:
- Non-tenure track and staff cases require at least 6-months of UMass employment in the sponsored position, unless case-specific legal filing deadlines already exist
- All UMass permanent residency cases are solely processed by retained immigration counsel to ensure system-wide consistency and legal compliance. The university will not pay any fees related to legal work performed by non-retained counsel (see UMass Board of Trustees Procurement Policy T92-031)
- The university is not obligated pay for dependent family member(s) immigration costs
- Postdoctoral positions do not meet the legal requirement of a permanent position and thus cannot be sponsored for permanent residency by the UMass employer
Hiring departments should familiarize themselves with these general permanent residency outlines and be cautious when discussing any long-term commitments related to a green card with a prospective or current employee who is not tenure-track faculty.