Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) Policy

Syracuse University has issued a new approved policy regarding the sponsorship of qualifying faculty members for U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident Status (“Green Card”) through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which allows non-U.S. citizens to live and work permanently in the United States. The new policy aims to:

  • minimize turnover among teaching professors;
  • improve retention of full-time faculty members and our best international teaching professors;
  • enhance the University’s Diversity Equity Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) efforts; and
  • advance the University’s commitment to teaching excellence.

Whom It Applies To

This new policy applies to any full-time faculty member who is expected to be a long-term employee, including full-time teaching professors. Positions designated as “post-doctoral” are not eligible for green card sponsorship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers below provide information about the costs, responsibilities, and processes required to request green card sponsorship for a faculty member.

There are two paths:

  1. Special Handling/PERM process
    For "permanent" full-time faculty who have some teaching responsibilities. (Non-tenure track appointments satisfy ​this definition of "permanent," provided their appointment contemplates at least a three-year term, subject to annual review).
  2. EB-1 Outstanding Researcher/Professor process
    An option for any international faculty member or researcher who can demonstrate international recognition and outstanding achievement in their respective field and is offered a long-term position at the University.

Detailed information on the processes and costs for both paths is noted under this FAQ below.

The faculty member must:

  • Be serving in a “permanent” position
    This is defined as tenured or tenure-track faculty positions.This designation also applies to other positions which, although not tenure-track or tenured, are intended to continue for a minimum period of three years, dependent upon employee performance and availability of funding.

    : Although the University may consider a position “permanent” for immigration processing purposes, this definition does not change the University’s standard terms of employment as expressed in University policies, appointment letters or collective bargaining agreements.
  • Have positive evaluations of teaching and related responsibilities
    These evaluations must come from the department chair and be confirmed by the dean at the end of first credited year of service to the University. In schools/colleges without departments, the evaluation must come from the dean or his/her/their designate.
    Initial appointment letters can indicate that the dean will/can/may recommend the faculty member for green card sponsorship, upon positive review at the end of the first credited year of service.
  • Have green card sponsorship/nomination by an academic dean
  • Have completed a competitive search process for the position
    Faculty hired on search waivers are ineligible for green card sponsorship through the PERM Labor Certification program. There is no such search requirement for the EB-1 process.
  • Employee’s commitment to reimbursement
    Covering any discretionary costs borne by the home school, college, department or University if the person leaves the position within two years of receiving the green card.

    : Exceptions to this policy are on a case-by-case basis, based on a clear University need, determined only by the Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer.

Deans must forward:

  • Name and curriculum vita of a full-time, non-tenure-track faculty member (who meets the above criteria) to the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs.
  • A letter detailing the support for green card sponsorship and demonstrating the need/demand that the sponsorship will address.

The submission is then reviewed by the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs, who approves or rejects the request. The nominating dean is informed in writing regarding the decision. Approved requests are moved to the University’s immigration team and/or outside counsel handling such cases.

  • The University/Central Administration pays legal fees
  • The sponsoring department, school, or college pays the filing fees
  • The employee is fully responsible for costs of:
    • all medical examinations, photographs, fingerprints, vaccinations, obtaining biographic documents and translations
    • costs for filing dependent green card applications, applications for work authorization or travel authorization for the employee’s dependent family members
    • travel costs to obtain a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

Note: The University does not cover legal fees and USCIS filing fees for dependent family members.

Special Handling/PERM Approval Steps

1. File an Application for Permanent Employment Certification (Form ETA9089) with the US Department of Labor certifying that the candidate was the most qualified of all applicants for the position through a competitive recruitment process.

  • This process may take six to eight months.
  • Costs of $2,000 will be paid by the University/Central Administration.
  • The University can trigger this process upon appointment or at a later date.
  • The application, however, must be filed with the Department of Labor no later than 18 months after the appointment.
  • This step runs parallel to the faculty member’s work visa, which is a separate and parallel process.
  • The prevailing wage determination must also be filed. (This determination can take up to six months for processing and should be initiated well before the 18-month deadline.)

2. If the Department of Labor provides the requested certification, the next step is to file an I-140 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

  • The I-140 petition is the employer’s petition, which serves as the foundation for the faculty member’s eligibility for Permanent Resident (“green card”) status.
  • The process may take six to eight months.
  • It requires a $700 USCIS filing fee (paid by the home department, school, or college)
  • There is an optional premium processing fee of $2,500 (if elected, this fee is paid by the faculty members home department, school, or college).
  • There is an additional $1,750 fee for legal services, which is paid by the University/Central Administration.

3. If the I-140 petition is approved, the next step is to file an I-485 application for permanent residence (the green card).

  • As long as the applicant’s priority date is “current,” the I-140 petition and I-485 application may be filed concurrently.
  • The timeframe is eight to 14 months.
  • The USCIS filing fee of $1,225 is paid by the home department, school, or college.
  • There are additional legal fees of $1,500, which are paid by the University/Central Administration.
  • Qualifying dependents of the applicant may submit their own I-485 applications at this point ($1,225 for dependents over age 14 and $750 for dependents under age 14).
  • All costs associated with dependent family member applications are the responsibility of the faculty member.

EB-1 Approval Process Steps

The EB-1 process requires fulfilling Steps 2 and 3 of the Special Handling process:

  • Filing of an I-140 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Filing of an I-485 application for permanent residence (the green card).

This chart provides a simplified view of the processes and costs for each path:

Special Handling

Legal fee - $2,000Normal - $700

Expedited - $2,500

Legal fee - $1,750
Filing fee - $1,225

Dependent filing fee:
$1,225 for applicants >14y/o
$750 for applicants <14 yo

Legal fee - $1,500 per applicant, $1,000 per family member
Time6-8 mo.6-8 months8-14 months


Government filing fees are same as Special Handling

Legal fee - $4,500

+Additional $700 for I-485 application

Government and legal fees same as Special Handling
Time6-8 mo.6-8 months8-14 months


  • Due to EB-1 process complexity, an added fee of $4,500 fee is paid by the University/Central Administration.
  • The USCIS (I-140) filing fee is still $700, but that fee does not include the cost of the I-485 application.
  • The I-140 petition usually requires substantial supporting evidence of the researcher/professor’s accomplishments, credentials, and publications. (Most professors and researchers hired into faculty-level positions will have significant publications and accomplishments to qualify for this category.)
  • Evaluation of each applicant’s curriculum vita by the legal team is required to make sure the applicant meets all required criteria.

In general, faculty seeking green cards should expect variance in government processing delays and plan accordingly regarding travel and their job duties. The University cannot guarantee that a case will be filed in any specific category or by any specific time or that the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Labor or Department of State will approve a particular application or petition or issue a visa.