Permanent Residency

Most foreign nationals who come to the United States to study or work are only allowed to stay in the United States for a temporary period of time. Many choose to seek lawful permanent residency, commonly referred to as a "green card," which allows a foreign national to live and work permanently in the United States. Permanent residence may be obtained through family-based petitions, refugee or asylee status and employment-based petitions, among other ways. The application process may take an extended period of time; therefore, if an employee is on an H-1B visa, the institution should not wait until the end of the sixth (and last) year of employment to begin the permanent residency process.

Although there are several categories for granting permanent residence based on employment skills, the two categories that are used most frequently used are "outstanding professor or researcher" category of EB-1 and "members of professions holding advanced degrees" category of EB-2. The Office of Legal Counsel ("OLC") only assists sponsoring departments and their qualifying foreign national employees with EB-2 petitions for tenure-track faculty positions. Sponsorship for all other positions, and/or use of categories other than EB-2 are reviewed on a case by case basis and subject University of Memphis ("UofM") approval.

Steps in the Process

The path to permanent residency under the EB-2 category is generally a three-step filing process involving two different U.S. agencies: the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The three steps are:

  1. PERM Form 9089 filed by the UofM with the DOL.
  2. Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker filed by the UofM with USCIS.
  3. Form I-485 Adjustment of Status filed by the beneficiary/employee with USCIS.


The hiring Department is responsible for the permanent residency petition fees.

                      Fee                               Fee Type

                      $700                              I-140 Filing Fee 
                      $2,500                         Premium Processing Fee (optional; 15 calendar day processing).

The hiring Department will also be responsible for administrative expenses associated with a permanent residency petition, such as courier costs.

Initiating the Green Card Process

In order to initiate the green card process, please contact the OLC to at visa@memphis.edu. The OLC will provide the employing department with all necessary Application Packets/Forms.