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Permanent Residency

Permanent Resident (PR) is the right to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. Often people refer to this benefit as having a "green card."

It is possible, at present, to become a permanent resident of the U.S. in numerous ways, including

  1. Through the petition of an employer.
  2. Through the petition of a close relative.
  3. Through a self-sponsored petition to have your work recognized as in the national interest, or as an alien of extraordinary ability.
  4. By a successful application for political asylum.
  5. By winning the annual green card lottery.

Permanent Residence Sponsorship at Stanford

All permanent resident applications filed by Stanford University must be processed by Bechtel International Center. Hiring departments may not prepare or sign immigration documents or applications for Labor Certification related to permanent resident petitions. Outside attorneys may not prepare or file applications or petitions on behalf of Stanford University unless previously approved by the Stanford University Office of the General Counsel. Read the General Counsel’s policy on this matter.

U.S. immigration laws do not permit Stanford to sponsor students, postdocs, part-time or temporary employees, or those with a fixed-term appointment  for permanent residence. The law does describe opportunities, however, for self-sponsorship; please send an inquiry to, and we will send you information about these sections of the law.

The university’s policies regarding the sponsorship of permanent residence petitions includes the following sponsorship scenarios (all appointments must be tenure-line, continuing or explicitly indefinitely renewable):

  • Faculty—Tenure-line and tenured faculty, through labor certification or merit-driven petition.
  • Non-tenure line faculty and teaching staff, through labor certification only.
  • Academic staff-Research—Research associates and senior scientists, through merit-driven petition.
  • Regular staff/Staff-librarians, through labor certification only.

Departments that are interested in initiating a permanent residence inquiry may complete a web form indicating a specific proposal for sponsorship of a qualifying employee. Bechtel will perform an analysis of the information provided, and respond with an explanation of relevant options for the department to choose among, allowing flexibility in the commitment of resources, depending upon factors such as programmatic need, convergence of interest, fiscal investment and other areas of discretion.

Processing Times and Deadlines

The permanent residence application process can take from eight months to more than three years to complete.

Departments seeking sponsorship of faculty should note that labor certification is based on a recent search. The results of a faculty search will "go stale" after about one year, so departments with newly recruited faculty should act promptly to work with Bechtel. There is no need to wait for a faculty member to arrive in the US, or at Stanford. A delay for any reason, including a postponed appointment, imperil the success of the process.

Note: During the entire PR process, up until the employee is able to actually apply for the green card, he or she must maintain an appropriate non-immigrant visa status (e.g., H-1B, J-1, O-1), and request all necessary extensions of stay while within the US. If an employee is uncertain about when his or her non-immigrant visa expires, s/he should contact the appropriate department representative, or Bechtel at

Stages of Obtaining Permanent Residency

There are either two or three general stages to obtaining Permanent Residency based on employment:

  1. In most cases, the first stage is labor certification, through which the Department of Labor agrees that a permanent position may be filled by a non-U.S. worker, based on a showing that no qualified U.S. workers are available to fill it; this stage may or may not be necessary depending on the beneficiary's university affiliation.
  2. The second stage is submission of the employer’s Form I-140, immigrant visa petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Essentially this means that the employer is stating to the USCIS that “this is a job for which we believe permanent residence is appropriate.” In most merit-driven cases, such as a petition on behalf of an “outstanding professor or researcher,” Form I-140 may be submitted without a labor certification (although some merit-driven petitions do have a modified labor certification component.)
  3. The third stage is the foreign national’s individual application (referred to as Adjustment of Status) for permanent residence, based on the Form I-140. The employer has no direct involvement in this stage. Bechtel International Center provides information about attorney/s who can be of assistance in the application for adjustment of status for the individual beneficiary and family members.

Bechtel’s role is confined to the first two stages. The third stage (Adjustment of Status) must be initiated by the individual. University policy views the Adjustment of Status as a personal process since it often involves family members, requires discussion of private information such as criminal convictions and violations of status, and may involve complex questions regarding timing and travel and re-entry. This policy tends to be standard at U.S. Research institutions.

Search for an immigration attorney.

Steps in the Permanent Residency Application Process

  • Prospective department sponsors should complete the web form with proposed sponsorship for a Stanford affiliate.
  • We will respond with detailed information, explaining possibilities, describing procedures, and inviting the submission of information.
  • The department and beneficiary provide the requested documents and information.
  • Bechtel International Center reaches out to the relevant government departments, depending upon the type of application.
  • Any interim developments are reported to the department.
  • When actionable results arrive, the beneficiary is directed to apply for an adjustment of status, using the attorney of their choosing.