Green Card Background Information
(If you're not interested in reading about background information, you can scroll down to the referral procedures below.)
Permanent residence allows an individual to remain permanently and work in most occupations without the need for additional authorization. This contrasts with the temporary authorization to reside and work in a specific job that a classification like H-1 or J-1 accommodates. Evidence of permanent residence is a document called a green card, for its original color; this page has an example of it and a lot of other information about permanent residence as well. We’re obviously not responsible for the information on this site.
Employer-sponsored green cards are associated with a particular offer of employment, which US immigration law requires to be full-time and “permanent” (or for faculty appointments, in the tenure line), in keeping with the permanent nature of the benefit. Stanford’s interpretation of this language, for the purposes of complying with immigration regulations, is the offer of a position without a fixed end date (immigration regulations include tenure-line faculty offers in this definition).
(Employer-sponsored) green cards fall into defined eligibility categories, referred to by numbered preferences, that is, first preference, second preference, etc. The preference number plays a significant role in how long a prospective immigrant must wait for their actual green card, the lower numbered preferences generally having quicker access.
(There are family preferences as well, not under discussion here, but of note is the eligibility of the spouse of a US citizen to apply for a green card through an Immediate Relative petition. This avoids many of the hassles presented by the employment preferences, which pose challenges to both applicants and employers. There is also no preference quota. US citizens 21 or over may also file Immediate Relative petitions on behalf of their parents.)
Petitions of any type are submitted to the Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Analysts working for USCIS review petitions for conformance to the legal and regulatory standards associated with the type of petition that’s been filed.
First preference petitions (in the Stanford environment) are merit-driven, meaning that the law has created a standard of achievement or accomplishment that must be met, usually through the presentation of evidence. There are other eligibility requirements as well, having to do with experience and scope of renown. These particular first preference petitions are frequently identified by their reference in the law as EB-1, EB-1B or E12. They are suited to offers of academic employment in teaching and research, where a significant record of publications and other types of professional accomplishment are integral to the essential qualifications for the job in question. The first preference is often sought, even as a “stretch,” because it may involve less waiting than the second preference.
Second preference petitions usually require a preliminary "labor certification" from the US Department of Labor (there are a couple of important exceptions), but the evidentiary standard is largely commensurate with the actual minimum requirements of the job being offered, and as settled by the labor certification. These requirements can range from those associated with skilled work, to tenure-line faculty; positions that normally require an advanced degree confer some advantages, but in general, inherent to any second preference petition is a lot of waiting. Not only does the labor certification take a very long time to be approved, but the cut-off date may be significantly in the future. You can read about cut-off and priority dates here, but, again we’re not responsible for the accuracy of the site.
Labor certification procedures for faculty (including teaching staff) and non-teaching staff can differ markedly; DoL regulations make specific exceptions to the search requirement in the case of employees who are engaged in “some amount of actual classroom teaching.”
In addition to employer-sponsored permanent immigration mechanisms, it’s also possible to apply for a green card as an individual. These self-sponsored petitions exist in both the first and second preference; in the latter case, the shorthand reference to the process is NIW, for National Interest Waiver. Despite being a second preference petition, the NIW is largely a merit-driven process. First preference self-sponsorship is often called “Extraordinary Ability,” for the way the standard of evidence is defined in the law. The standard is pretty high, higher than that for the EB-1B.
All affiliates are free to pursue self-sponsored green cards (National Interest Waiver, Extraordinary Ability) with a personal attorney who does not represent Stanford. Affiliates may not retain personal counsel for green card petitions sponsored by Stanford (PERM, EB-1B).
You can read about the various types of employer-sponsored petitions here:
PERM for teaching positions
PERM for non-teaching staff positions
Stanford has retained the law firm of Fredrikson, (previously known as F&B or Fredlaw) for assistance with certain types of immigration work, including employer-sponsored permanent/green card petitions. Fredrikson is the exclusive provider of these legal services to Stanford University, and is the only firm that can submit Stanford’s petitions to USCIS. If a department or employing unit has need of these services, we will need to collect basic information and secure preliminary approvals before processing the referral. The firm works in cooperation with Bechtel International Center and the Office of General Counsel to coordinate the University’s representations to the USCIS.
All requests to refer permanent immigration work on Stanford’s behalf require the approval of a cognizant dean or vice president. A template for this letter can be found here. Please be prepared to attach it to your referral request.
A department or unit can begin the process by completing this web form, which will collect account/PTA information and the necessary letter of authorization from the cognizant dean. There is no provision for employees to initiate their own immigration procedures.
If a department’s referral request is approved, the department or unit representative will be given instructions for contacting the attorneys, and the Office of General Counsel will open a legal matter and assign a number.
Departments and other hiring units are responsible for legal and filing fees for Stanford-sponsored petitions. Fredrikson’s Legal Fee Schedule can be found here. (Be sure to be logged in to a stanford.edu account to review the fee schedule.) Legal fees do not include filing or premium processing fees; these are extra and should be discussed with the attorneys.
Please do not consult the firm outside the context of an approved referral, from the Office of General Counsel and/or Bechtel, for each individual matter you wish referred.