Permanent Residency Applications

Policy Statement


Drexel University sponsors for U.S. permanent residence full-time, regular employees in certain academic positions. The University will not sponsor staff who are in non-academic positions, except when a special case is made for an exception to this policy. Drexel University will not sponsor students, part-time, or temporary employees for permanent residence.

If the University is able to sponsor a non-immigrant employee for permanent residence, International Students and Scholars Services ("ISSS") will authorize an attorney retained by the employee to initiate the permanent residence application. A University-sponsored permanent residence application CANNOT be initiated without the authorization of ISSS. Deans, Directors and Department Heads must consult ISSS to initiate the permanent residence process for any employee. Employees initiating the permanent residence process without prior written permission from ISSS risk having their application process delayed or terminated.

Foreign Nationa Employees in Academic Positions and the University

The University offers permanent residence sponsorship to full-time, regular foreign national employees in academic job classifications at the University. These positions include professor, associate professor, assistant professor and research associate. (A department must have funding for at least three years in the future for the University to sponsor a research associate). The University does not sponsor post-doctoral fellows, lecturers, auxiliary or adjunct faculty for permanent residence, since these positions are considered by the University to be temporary and do not always carry full University benefits. The University requires that individuals offered tenured appointments must be U.S. workers as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, before accepting the position.

A) Tenured Appointments

If a department is considering offering a tenured appointment to a foreign national who does not already have permanent residence status, the following points must be borne in mind:

  • Since a tenured appointment is an appointment without limit of time, the only status appropriate for such an appointment is permanent residence or other indefinite U.S. worker status./
  • Obtaining permanent residence takes considerable time, approximately 18-24 months at the time of this publication.
  • A tenured appointment cannot be conferred by the University until the individual has obtained permanent residence or U.S. worker status.
  • If an academic department is considering an offer of a tenured position and feels the delay is too lengthy, the department may wish to consider offering a temporary position, such as a visiting faculty appointment. This will enable the University to obtain H-1B visa status for the individual.
  • If the scholar is already in the U.S. on a temporary visa, adjustment of status to permanent residence is sometimes possible. However, this process must be completed before the individual can take up the tenured appointment.

B) Tenure Probationary Appointments

An international scholar may be appointed to a faculty position that at the outset is not tenured. If the candidate does not have, at the time of appointment, the appropriate immigration status, the letter of offer should clearly state that the appointment is conditional upon obtaining the appropriate immigration status.

As with the appointment of a foreign national to a tenured faculty position, if the appointee does not have U.S. permanent residence status, or is not a U.S. worker, the University will normally sponsor the application for such status. If there is not sufficient time to obtain permanent residence status, the appointee may obtain H-1B status for the initial period of the appointment (i.e., the first three years in most instances). Immigration law permits "dual intent," for H-1B visa holders. This makes it possible for employers to use the H-1B status for tenure-track or lecturer appointments while in the process of obtaining permanent residence status for the appointees.

C) Non-Tenure Accruing Academic Appointments

Occasionally, the University will sponsor for U.S. permanent residence certain individuals holding non-tenure accruing positions within the academic staff. In all instances, there must be evidence of on-going support (a minimum of three years) for the position and written approval by the Department Head and Dean/Director indicating the basis for their decision to sponsor the application. This policy will include some research associates and, in a few cases, the position of senior lecturer.

Nonimmigrant Employees in Non-academic Staff Positions at the University

The University does not sponsor foreign national employees in non-academic staff positions such as research specialist, programmer analyst, or laboratory technician for permanent residence. This policy is an expression of the University's desire to provide employment opportunities for U.S. workers in the Philadelphia area. The University can make an exception, however, if it can be demonstrated that there are no qualified U.S. workers available in the Philadelphia area for a given staff position.

A University department can request an exception to this policy on behalf of a foreign staff member by writing a letter (with an attached job description) to ISSS. The process includes placement of a newspaper advertisement and other procedures necessary for consideration of the exception request.

All employees sponsored by the University for permanent residence are required to commit to a minimum of three years full time employment at the University upon the granting of permanent residence by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

General Application Procedures for filing for U.S. Permanent Residence Status

There are normally three steps involved in obtaining U.S. permanent residence status on the basis of an offer of employment when an individual is in the U.S. and seeking to adjust to permanent residence status while remaining in the United States. The University's authorized immigration attorney shall be responsible for taking the following steps:

  • Application for Labor Certification filed with the Department of Labor. The purpose of the Labor Certification (for faculty positions only) is to demonstrate that the "employer selected the alien for the job opportunity pursuant to a competitive recruitment and selection process, through which the alien was found to be more qualified than any of the U.S. workers who applied for the job." The standard for non-faculty positions is more stringent. Non-faculty labor certifications will only be approved if it can be demonstrated that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for a position. This step is not necessary for an application filed under the outstanding researcher or national interest waiver category.
  • Please note that, while ISSS exception request process reflects some labor certification procedures, the exception process is completely separate from and usually has no bearing on an application for labor certification with the Department of Labor.
  • Petition for immigrant classification filed with the Immigration Service (I-140). This is the first step in the application for classification as an outstanding professor/researcher.
  • Application for adjustment of status to that of a U.S. permanent resident filed with the Immigration Service (I-485).

Cost and Fees

It is within the discretion of the College or School to provide funding toward attorney and filing fees associated with the permanent residence process. If the College or School chooses not to provide the funding, but does agree to sponsor the employee's permanent residence process, it is the responsibility of the employee to pay all money and filing fees associated with the permanent residence process.