The University's requirements for sponsoring foreign nationals for permanent residence (a "green card") ensure compliance with federal law and regulations and guide academic and administrative units regarding the University's internal procedures for approval of such sponsorship.
Applying for employment-based permanent residence is a complex process and the assistance of an immigration attorney with expertise in employment-based permanent residence applications for university faculty and researchers should be considered.
If Clemson is contributing any amount for legal services fees, one of three immigration attorneys, approved by the South Carolina Attorney General, must be used to prepare, and file employment-based permanent residence applications. Each of the three approved attorneys provides limited free consultations to Clemson employees to discuss the options available for filing the permanent residence application. The list of approved attorneys can be found below.
Hiring departments will pay up to $5,000 in legal services fees to sponsor qualified employees for employment-based permanent residency. No department may pay more than $5,000 in legal services fees. Legal services fees are the attorney fees and associated legal costs for copying, and mailing fees charged by the attorney who prepares and files the immigration case. Legal services fees can vary depending on the "preference type" of the permanent residence application, for example, EB-1 or EB-2, etc.
Hiring departments may, at their discretion, pay up to an additional $5,000 in USCIS filing fees. Distinct from the legal services fees, filing fees are the required form fees to be paid to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to file employment-based permanent residence applications.
Employees are personally responsible for:
- Any attorney fees above $5,000 and USCIS filing fees not paid by the hiring department, and
- Any filing fees associated with any dependents included in the application. Dependent fees are currently $1,225 for the spouse and $750 per child.
Current Filing Fees:
Since each of the forms below requires University signatures, each document must be created and submitted to USCIS by one of the University's three approved immigration attorneys.
- PERM stands for Program Electronic Review Management system, governed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and is the first and most crucial step in the green card application. In filing a "PERM" with the DOL, employers attest that they plan to hire a foreign national and have taken specific steps to recruit U.S. workers but have been unable to locate a qualified U.S. worker for the position.
- Filing a PERM is typically included in legal services fees. However, filing for employment-based permanent residency outside the 18-month window for "special handling" may increase the cost of filing a PERM. Additional information on "special handling" is found below.
- Form I-140: Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.
- Once the DOL approves a PERM application, an I-140 Immigrant Worker Petition must be filed with USCIS within six months of the approval date of the PERM application.
- The current USCIS filing fee is $700, and the USCIS processing time is 5-24.5 months.
- Premium Processing of I-140.
- Premium processing provides expedited processing for the I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. Specifically, USCIS guarantees processing of the I-140 within 15 calendar days of receipt by USCIS.
- The current USCIS filing fee for premium processing is $2,500.
- Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
- Once the attorney has filed an I-140, the employee may apply for lawful permanent resident status using the I-485 if an immigrant visa is available. USCIS must approve the employee's I-140 before USCIS can process the I‑485.
- The current USCIS filing fee for an I-485 is $1,140 for adults and $750 for a minor dependent (child under 14 and filing with the I-485 application of at least one parent).
- Form I-485 Supplement J: Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer.
- This form confirms that the job offered in the I-140 remains a bona fide job offer that the employee intends to accept once USCIS approves the Form I-485.
- The current USCIS filing fee for an I-485 Supplement J is $0.
Special Note Regarding Hiring of Faculty Who Are Either Tenured, Tenure Track, or on Long-Term Contracts: For standard professorial rank faculty members who are tenured, on a tenure track, or on long-term contracts, requests to sponsor an individual for employment-based permanent residence should be made soon after hiring.
In many circumstances, foreign nationals hired for tenure track positions must obtain a "labor certification," or PERM, from the DOL to obtain permanent residence through employment. Under immigration law, college and university teachers are eligible for "special handling," which allows the University to establish that it hired a foreign national after a competitive recruitment and selection process that included advertising in a national publication. Unlike a standard labor certification, special handling enables the University to use the completed competitive recruitment instead of conducting new 60-day recruitment.
To utilize "special handling," an attorney must file a labor certification, PERM, application with the DOL within eighteen (18) months of offering the job to the new employee. The 18-month clock begins when the faculty member is offered the job and not when the appointment is approved.
To qualify for "special handling," the DOL requires advertising for the faculty position to be conducted in a professional journal with national circulation. Acceptable advertising includes a print ad in a national publication or a 30-day online posting with a national professional journal's electronic or web-based version. If the recruitment does not comply with the DOL's regulations, employers will not be able to take advantage of the "special handling" process. Not using "special handling" will increase the cost of obtaining employment-based permanent residence and be much more time-consuming for the employee and the University. Any candidate pool that includes foreign nationals must consist of at least one print ad in a national professional publication or a 30-day online posting with a national professional journal's electronic or web-based version.
Disclaimer: While the University will expend reasonable efforts to obtain immigration benefits for a foreign national sponsored for permanent residence, the process does not guarantee permanent residence approval or U.S. work authorization as the U.S. government is solely responsible for approving petitions and applications and determining eligibility for any immigration benefit based on education, experience, background, family relationships, prior immigration history, and criminal background.
This summary is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. We will strive to keep this information updated as fee amounts change but always encourage individuals to research or reach out for the most up-to-date information.
An individual always has the right to seek his/her own attorney for representation, but Clemson cannot pay any amount towards legal services fees or filing fees for attorneys who are not on Clemson’s approved list.
If you have questions about the information above, please contact International Services for assistance.