Permanent Residency (PR)


A permanent resident (PR) is someone who has the right to live and work in the United States permanently. Permanent residents are often referred to as “green card” holders.

Being a permanent resident is not the same as being a U.S. citizen. Permanent residents may become naturalized U.S. citizens eventually.

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PR holders are allowed to remain permanently in the U.S. To maintain your status as a permanent resident in the United States, you must have a primary residence in the United States and obtain a re-entry permit from USCIS for any trip outside of the United States which will last longer than six months.


UW-Madison is only able to file a permanent residency application for certain employees:

New tenure-track or tenured faculty who were offered the job within the past 18 months after a proper national recruitment was conducted;
Clinical and CHS faculty with primary teaching responsibilities who were offered the job within the past 18 months after a proper national recruitment was conducted;
Tenured faculty who appear to meet the “Outstanding Professor” qualifications, regardless of when the initial offer letter was issued;
High level research staff and scientists who hold or have been offered a permanent research position in the Researcher or Scientist title series and who appear to qualify for the “Outstanding Professor/Researcher” (OPR) category, regardless of when the initial offer letter was issued.
Additionally, there are numerous other ways to obtain permanent residency on your own without UW-Madison sponsorship. The most common ways are by a petition you file that prove national interest or exceptional ability, sponsorship by a qualifying family member, investors, religious workers, asylum, and the diversity lottery.


An individual who was previously on a J-1 or J-2 visa and is subject to the two year home residency requirement is not eligible for PR until the individual has either waived that requirement or been in their home country for two years.


When a foreign national obtains permanent residence, the spouse and all children under the age of 21 are also eligible to receive permanent residence, as long as they were included in the application.


The decision to file a permanent residence application must be authorized by the appropriate Dean’s office in consultation with IFSS. No promises can be made to current or prospective employees that the University will file or obtain permanent residence on their behalf. The petitioning process is lengthy, involving up to three government agencies, and the final decision to grant the permanent residence must be made by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. It is never a certainty that the permanent residence will be approved.


The University of Wisconsin (UW) has the following employment-based (EB) options for sponsoring PR:

  1. EB-2 Special Handling Labor Certification (“PERM”)
    • Available only for permanent full-time teaching positions
    • Requires the UW Hiring Unit to appropriately test the national labor market and provide evidence of such according to the regulations. See below for more information.
    • Employees hired using a waiver are not eligible for PR under this category.
  2. EB-1B Outstanding Professor or Researcher (OPR)
    • Available primarily for our academic staff researchers and scientists who meet the federal standards for this type of petition. See below for more information.
    • May also be available for incoming faculty who already have received Tenure.

There are many pathways to PR that do not require employer sponsorship as well (for example: National Interest Waiver, Family-Based, EB-1A Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, Refugee/Asylee, Alien Entrepreneur, etc.). These options can be pursued by the employee, on his or her own, or with the assistance of an immigration attorney at any time. Departments can offer their support for those personal petitions by writing support letters, etc. but cannot pay for filing fees, attorney fees, or allow the immigration attorney to represent the UW in any way. IFSS can offer general information about other options, but cannot provide legal advice to employees for personal legal matters.

Is your employee asking about options for PR that don’t require UW sponsorship?

Send your employee the link to Green Card Eligibility Categories.


Please be aware: never sign a Form G-28. This form gives an outside attorney the ability to represent and act on the behalf of the UW for a particular petition, which is strictly prohibited by Wisconsin State Statute. See UW Legal website regarding Outside Attorneys.
If the UW sponsors a PR petition, a UW employee may choose to hire a private attorney to assist with the final step of PR (filing the I-485, aka “Adjustment of Status”). Using a private attorney is permissible at this step in the process since the I-485 is considered a personal petition. The employee must pay all filing fees and attorney fees if they choose to do so. It is not appropriate for the UW to reimburse private attorney fees.


The UW cannot provide recommendations.



EB-2 Special Handling Labor Certification Petition

  • Involves multiple steps
  • Entire process can take generally 2-3 years (more for some individuals)
  • The Labor Certification must be filed no later than 18 months of date of selection.
    • “Date of selection” is widely interpreted as the date on the first original offer letter.
    • This deadline is somewhat of a misnomer. Depending on when certain parts of the EB-2 application are completed, our timeline may be less than 18 months.

EB-1B OPR Petition

  • Involves two (2) steps
  • Entire process can take generally 1-2 years (more for some individuals)
  • Does not require a test of the national labor market (i.e. a national recruitment)
  • No time limit based on offer letter date. The UW can file these types of petitions at any time during the employee’s career at the UW.
  • Please talk to your department chair and dean’s office if you are interested in this type of petition.  They will reach out to IFSS to begin the discussion.


Employees are responsible for all filing fees related to the PR petition. The UW hiring unit will not pay for or reimburse those fees. USCIS will accept a personal check or money order from a U.S. bank payable to US Department of Homeland Security.


The Permanent Residency process is a multi-step process involving both the Department of Labor (DOL) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This process is a three-way partnership between IFSS, the hiring department and the applicant/employee.

The hiring department is encouraged to contact IFSS with any questions about the permanent residency process and to discuss procedures. Once you’ve started the process, email forms to IFSS at We will advise on more specific timeframes as we move through the process.



In order to sponsor an EB-2 Special Handling Labor Certification permanent residency petition, the University must have conducted national recruitment that meets the U.S. Department of Labor standards. The standards are:

  • One full advertisement must be in a professional journal of national circulation
  • The ad must include the title, duties, minimum education, training and experience requirements listed (the same as what is listed in the UW’s PVL). If the ad is in a journal online, it must be available for at least 30 days.
  • No minimally qualified US worker applies.

To determine if the recruitment meets the above standards, please send the following documents to

  • Copy of original PVL
  • Copy of all the advertisements

The University must also agree to pay at least 100% of the prevailing wage as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.



Once we know the recruitment meets the above standards and the UW is paying at least the prevailing wage, we can proceed with preparing the Labor Certification (aka PERM, aka 9089). Please send the following documents to

  • Employee Intake Form (formerly the Beneficiary Form)
  • CV, with current appointment included
  • Original offer letter and any subsequent amendments/revisions
  • Hiring Authority Recruitment Summary
  • Spreadsheet with job related reasons for non-selection of the other applicants
  • Search Committee Report
  • Statement of Beneficiary’s Qualifications
  • Notice PVL
  • Notice of Filing PVL Template Letter
  • Other documents as needed based on the recruitment and employee’s situation

IFSS will submit the Labor Certification electronically. There is no fee for this application.



Once the Labor Certification is approved, the University has six (6) months to file the I-140 petition. IFSS prepares the I-140. The following documentation is needed for the I-140.

  • Most recent CV or resume
  • Copy of diploma
    • If not in English, a translation is required
  • Transcripts of the highest degree, if the field of study is not on the diploma
  • Credential evaluation, if the highest degree is not from a U.S. college or university
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of most recent I-94
  • Additional documentation based on the job requirements
  • If position includes clinical duties:
    • Copy of the Wisconsin medical license
    • USMLE scores
    • ECFMG Certificate
    • Documentation of Board Eligibility or Board certification, if required in PVL
  • Filing Fee
  • Optional: Premium Processing Fee
    • This additional fee will guarantee that USCIS will make a decision in 15 calendar days.
    • NOTE: this does not guarantee approval. A decision may be an approval, a Request For Evidence (RFE), a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) or a denial. We will reach out to the Department immediately if the decision received is an RFE, NOID or denial.
    • IFSS will prepare the I-907 if the employee chooses to pay for premium processing.


Visa Bulletin EB-2

Once IFSS has obtained the I-140 Approval Notice, it will be shared with the employee to complete the last step of obtaining permanent residency, who can then share it with his or her attorney. With the approved I-140, the employee has now become eligible to “adjust” from a non-immigrant to an immigrant status. However, the Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin determines the employee’s ability to file for the I-485 based on the priority date issued on the approved I-140. On the DOS Visa Bulletin webpage, there are two different bulletins: “Final Action Dates” and “Dates of Filing”. USCIS will determine which of these bulletins is used for each month. The DOS webpage provides a link to the USCIS webpage to figure out which one to use.

It is important to understand that, during this part of the process, IFSS cannot be involved since this is a personal application. While the University of Wisconsin petitions for an employee’s eligibility, we cannot actively assist after the I-140 has been approved (with the exception of the Supplement J; see below).

It is highly recommended that you seek an immigration attorney to at least review your I-485, or prepare the application entirely. IFSS recommends retaining an attorney early in the process (around step #2 above) to begin working on this final step and determine timelines for the employee in order to ensure this last step goes smoothly. IFSS is able to provide names of local immigration attorneys upon request, but cannot make recommendations.

Filing Fees for this step can be found at USCIS.

Please remember: The University of Wisconsin cannot pay for any fees, whether they be lawyer or USCIS filing fees, associated with the I-485 application.

I-485 Supplement J

This is an attestation by the employer that the employee is working in the job offered to them in the Form I-140. The employee should contact IFSS when preparing the I-485 for submission to request this form, if the Supplement J was not provided with the I-140 approval.


Preferred couriers that pick up daily at 21 N. Park Street already (no need to schedule a pick-up):

  • UPS
  • FedEx

Standard Processing

Attn: I-140
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Premium Processing

USCIS Nebraska Service Center
850 S. Street
Lincoln, NE 68508