Permanent Residency Overview

Since September 11, 2001, there has been increased US DHS scrutiny of all documents held by non-US citizens who enter and reside in the US. Primarily this concern has related to entry into the US; however the US DHS has increased scrutiny of a range of foreign nationals currently in the US. Although there is no current information indicating that Permanent Residents are undergoing special scrutiny, all Permanent Residents should be aware of the information noted here. However, all foreign nationals who are in immigrant or non-immigrant status should be aware that most institutions, agencies and employers in the U.S. are being required under US immigration regulations to place greater scrutiny on their documentation pertinent to non US citizens sponsored, hired or otherwise associated with those organizations.

Permanent Residency Definitions

Dual Nationality - The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policy. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist citizens abroad. The country where a dual national is located generally has a stronger claim to that person's allegiance. However, dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries. Either country has the right to enforce its laws, particularly if the person later travels there.

Immigrants - as defined by U.S. immigration law, are persons lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. An immigrant is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States.

Naturalization - Legal Permanent Residents may apply for naturalization which is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). An applicant is eligible to file if, immediately preceding the filing of the application, he or she:

  • Has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (see preceding section).
  • Has resided continuously as a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to filing with no single absence from the United States of more than one year.
  • Has been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the previous five years (absences of more than six months but less than one year shall disrupt the applicant's continuity of residence unless the applicant can establish that he or she did not abandon his or her residence during such period).
  • Has resided within a state or district for at least three months.
Renewal of Legal Permanent Residency ID Cards

Notice: The USCIS indicates that alien's should apply to replace their current card if the card is a prior version of the alien registration card (Form AR-3, Form AR-103, Form I-151). To find the FORM NUMBER ON THE CARD look on the backside (see sample PDF), cards should read I-551 if not you must apply for a replacement card. These versions are no longer valid to prove immigration status for any purpose and you may be unable to re-enter the US if traveling on one of the older cards. Those holding the older cards should should submit an Application to Replace Permanent Residence Card (Form I-90) to receive the current version (Form I-551). Although currently there is no evidence that Permanent Residents are being required to undergo the special security checks you should be aware that such checks are at the discretion of the US Customs and Border Protection. If you had any criminal convictions or meet other USCBP criteria, there is a risk of losing your permanent residence. Lengthy absences from the U.S. (over one year) might also put you at the risk of having the USCIS determine that your permanent residence was abandoned. If in doubt whether to renew, it is suggested that you consult with an immigration attorney.

Background: The USCIS has been issuing Green Cards (Form I-551, Alien Registration Receipt Card) that expire every 10 years. You may apply for a replacement card up to 6 months in advance of the expiration date.

If you have a previous version of the alien registration card (e.g. USCIS Form AR-3, Form AR-103, or Form I-151, these are no longer valid proof of your status) and must replace it with the current permanent resident card (Form I-551). The older versions have no expiration date on them, these cards may now be invalid if they are one of those indicated above.

It is important to note that when your alien registration card expires, you will not lose your status. However, renewal is necessary to maintain evidence of status and avoid problems when seeking employment, benefits or re-entry into the United States after travel abroad. You should also be aware that by renewing your card, the USCIS will pay attention to whether you have maintained your permanent residency during the previous 10 years.

Please note the following: Real Case Discussion

Renewal of Legal Permanent Residency ID Cards

Real Case Discussion    >>>> 11/19/02 01:05PM >>>

  • I would encourage the employee to apply for a replacement. We had an employee present an old card for I-9 purposes a few weeks ago. He is in his 20's now and the picture on the card was taken when he was about 8. He had to apply for a social security card to replace the one he lost, and the Social Security Administration issued him a card with the "not valid without USCIS authorization" because he had an outdated card. At some point, it will become a problem for the permanent resident.
  • A few years ago, it was announced that the old cards had to be replaced and that as of a certain date, they would no longer be considered to be acceptable for re-entry or for I-9 purposes. These individuals were to apply for replacements.
  • Sounds like your employee falls into that category...
  • Tuesday, November 19, 2002 1:55 PM - To: The scholars mailing list -Subject: [scholars] Replacement of old Permanent Residency cards

I have an employee who has one of the old permanent residency cards with no expiration date. The last time she traveled, the CBP officer wrote in her passport "I-90 advised". Does anyone know of a requirement for these permanent residents to obtain new cards? I thought if they didn't have an expiration date they didn't have to renew the card. Anyone have any different experiences? Will this employee have problems in the future if she chooses not to take this "advise?"

When I looked up the I-90 form, it indicates that you have to file this form requesting a replacement card if:

  • Your previous card was lost, stolen, mutilated, or destroyed.
  • Your card was issued to you before you were 14 and you have reached your 14th birthday.
  • You have been a commuter and are now taking up actual residence in the United States.
  • You have been a permanent resident residing in the United States and are now taking up commuter status.
  • Your status has been automatically converted to permanent resident status, this includes Special Agricultural Worker applicants who are converting to permanent resident status.
  • You have a previous version of the alien registration card (e.g. BCIS Form AR-3, Form AR-103, or Form I-151, all no longer valid proof of your status) and must replace it with the current permanent resident card (Form I-551).
  • Your card contains incorrect data.
  • Your last name or other biographic information on the card has been legally changed since you last received your card.
  • You never received the previous card that was issued to you by USCIS.
USCIS Address Change Requirements

All aliens (including Permanent Residents) in the United States who are required to be registered under the law (INA § 262 and 261) must keep UCIS informed of their changes of address. The only aliens exempt from this requirement are diplomats (visa status A), official government representatives to an international organization (visa status G), and certain nonimmigrants who do not possess a visa and who are in the U.S. for fewer than 30 days (INA § 263). UCIS requires reporting of any address change within 10 days of the change of address. The address reported must be a physical address of residence, not a PO Box or office/university address.

Again this includes all Permanent Residents. UCIS recently issued new guidelines regarding filing the Change of Address form. For more information please go to:

Policy and Guidelines

Auburn University will sponsor professional-level employees for US Permanent Residence if the employee is employed (or has been offered employment) in any full-time position considered to be permanent. The definition of "permanent" for the purpose of this policy is explained in detail below.

All permanent resident applications filed by Auburn University must be processed by, or directed by, the Office of International Programs. 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 Auburn University unless previously approved by the AU General Counsel. Hiring departments may not pay for immigration-related work performed by outside attorneys, except when arranged through the Office of International Programs and the AU General Counsel.

Permanent resident petitions will be processed based on an official request by the head or director of the department (or organizational unit) employing the employee, with approval by the college dean (if appropriate) and the Office of the Provost/VP for Academic Affairs or Office of the President.

The applications will be facilitated by the Office of International Programs through the AU counsel for immigration support. All processing and legal fees associated with the application will be arranged for in writing with the hiring department and beneficiary prior to the initiation of any petition.

University departments may not make promises to any non-tenure track employee or prospective employee concerning sponsorship for permanent residence until the request for sponsorship has been approved by all required administrative offices (including the Office of the Provost/President).


Employees for Whom AU Will File Permanent Resident Petitions

A petition for permanent residence may be filed for an employee in a permanent, full-time professional position. "Professional" is defined to be any position which clearly requires a four-year Bachelor's Degree or higher. "Permanent" is defined to be a tenure-track or tenured faculty position or any regular position that is expected to continue indefinitely, and in which the employee intends to remain indefinitely. "Visiting", "Acting", or "Interim" faculty positions do not meet the definition of permanent. [Note that Post-doctoral positions are not considered permanent.]

For persons employed as teaching faculty, the permanent resident application process should begin within eighteen months after the official job offer has been made. For all other positions (including research appointments), the conditions below must be satisfied before the University begins any paperwork related to a permanent resident petition. For all AU sponsored LPR petitions, there must also be a commitment on the part of the faculty member employee to remain indefinitely at Auburn University.

  1. The employee must normally be employed by Auburn University for a minimum of six months before the University will sponsor him/her for permanent residence, or one semester if faculty.
  2. The hiring department must already have secured a minimum of three additional years of funding (after the Permanent Resident paperwork has begun) and must clearly demonstrate that continued funding beyond the three years is highly probable for an indefinite period.
  3. Exceptions to the above requirements may be made only with approval of the Office of the Provost/VP for Academic Affairs.
  4. After initial approval by the Office of the Provost/VP for Academic Affairs and after consultation with the employee and the hiring department, the Office of International Programs will determine the most appropriate category of employment-based immigration to be used for the application. If the Office of International Programs determines that the application is unlikely to be approved, it will not file any application and will not recommend that the application be referred to an attorney.

Whenever possible, the University will apply for a "Special Handling" Labor Certification for teaching positions, followed by a second preference immigration petition. For non-teaching positions, the Office of International Programs may recommend either a second or third preference petition with Labor Certificate or a first preference petition for outstanding researcher. In most cases, only one application will be filed for an employee at one time. If a petition or application for Labor Certificate is unsuccessful, the sponsoring AU department and the Office of International Programs may choose to file or recommend an application in another category. While the Office of International Programs will use its best judgment in filing petitions, it does not guarantee approval of any application filed.

Note: Employees are free to file immigrant petitions on their own behalf without approval by Auburn University. These petitions may be filed in the categories of "Extraordinary Ability" or "National Interest Waiver," and the employee him/herself will act as the petitioner. While AU department heads, professors, and other employees may write recommendation letters in support of such applications, they may not sign any US Government forms on behalf of the University in relation to these applications. It is recommended that copies of such letters of support be sent to the Office of International Programs as an FYI and to keep the employee file up to date.

Permanent Residency Costs

All costs related to the filing of the Labor Certification portion (PERM) of permanent resident petitions filed by Auburn University must be paid by the hiring department. The costs associated with an application for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status for the employee may be paid by the employee or the hiring department. The University may not pay any costs associated with applications filed by the dependents of the employee. If the services of an outside attorney are used, the hiring department and or employee will be responsible for paying all attorney fees.

The hiring department will be responsible for paying for all costs of advertising and recruitment, as required by U.S. labor law. Fees associated with the I-140/Adjustment of Status phase of the process may not be paid out of State of Alabama funds.

If an employee files an immigrant petition on his/her own behalf, Auburn University will not pay or reimburse the costs of the application.

Summary of Procedures for filing Permanent Resident Petitions

To initiate paperwork for a permanent resident petition, the hiring department or organizational unit will complete a request form, stating its intention to employ the employee on a permanent or indefinite basis and indicating how the employee meets the above criteria. The request form will be signed by department head and dean (if applicable) and forwarded to the Office of the Provost/VP for Academic Affairs with required documentation. If the request is approved, it will be forwarded to the Office of International Programs.

A representative of OIP will then meet with the Head of the hiring department to make the final determination about filing the petition, discuss the best immigrant category to be used, the relevant requirements and procedures, the probabilities for approval, and to give an estimate of related costs.

Although the Office of International Programs will advise the department to the best of its abilities before beginning an application, it does not guarantee approval of any application.

Based on the availability of OIP staff, in conjunction with AU legal counsel policy, a decision on the legal services used to process the petition and cost reimbursement procedures will be made in writing. (This determination will be made before the department makes the final decision to proceed.)

The hiring department will then provide more detailed information and documentation as requested by OIP or the attorney. If further advertising and recruitment is required, this will be arranged by the hiring department under the direction of OIP or the attorney.

The Office of Human Resources will also assist, as needed, in fulfilling Department of Labor recruiting requirements. When an application will be filed for a Labor Certification, paper and electronic notices must be posted for the information of other employees. Arrangements for these postings will be made by OIP, Human Resources, and the hiring department, coordinated by OIP.

Paper documentation related to the Labor Certification must be collected before the electronic application is filed, and kept by the employer for five years. This file will be assembled and kept by the Office of International Programs.

A representative of the Office International Programs, designated by the AU administration, will sign all documents related to applications for Labor Certification or immigrant petitions. There will be no authorization of representation (G-28 form) by ANY attorney who has not been approved in ADVANCE by the AU general counsel for immigration purposes (currently Fisher & Phillips, LLP). Please Note - the following link provides more information on the exact procedures.

Employee-based Preferences

The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for 140,000 employment-based immigrant petitions to be approved each fiscal year. These 140,000 approvals are divided between five employment-based preference categories. OIP processes two types of permanent residency petitions:

  • Outstanding Professors and Researchers

    AU faculty who hold-tenure track positions occasionally apply for permanent residence using the EB-1 category. The EB-1 category requires that the applicant be outstanding in his or her academic field and be permanently employed. The applicant bears the burden of proof to meet the standards applicable for the Outstanding Professor and Researcher designation.

  • Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees

    AU faculty or staff who hold positions with teaching responsibilities generally apply for permanent residence using the EB-2 category. This category requires that AU document that a fair search was conducted and that the most qualified individual was hired for the position. This category allows for special consideration by the Department of Labor because of the individual's teaching responsibilities. The application must be submitted within 18 months of the decision to hire.

Changes or modifications of employment – Waiting period

Any change in employment status during the application process (reduction of percentage of time, leave of absence, change in job title or duties, or termination) could result in withdrawal of the petition.

Once the final adjustment of status paperwork is submitted to USCIS, the faculty member's application is placed on a waiting list for that employment-based category and background security checks are also done. An individual's place on the waiting list is determined by the priority date assigned to his or her application. The priority date is the date on which either the labor certification or the I-140 was submitted to the USCIS.

The wait-time for final adjudication of the petition can last two years or longer. In addition, individuals born in certain countries may be affected by visa retrogression and the adjustment of status phase may run considerably longer. Each country of the world is allowed a certain number of immigrant visas for the US. Visa retrogression occurs when immigrant visas for a particular country are no longer available and the demand exceeds the supply of visas. Individuals must then wait until a visa number becomes current before the final adjustment of status to permanent resident can occur.

During the transition between H-1B status and permanent residency, the scholar and the department must work closely with OIP to ensure that the scholar maintains the correct visa status

Please check with OIP for up to date AU policies and procedures.


Last Updated: February 06, 2019