University Sponsorship for Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) or the "Green Card"

Should you have any additional questions after reviewing the information below, please direct questions regarding HR matters to the HR staff in a given department; inquiries regarding general immigration-related matters and regarding the larger internal process to the Office of International Affairs and questions regarding a specific case already in the hands of an immigration attorney to that attorney.

Note: While the various University of Chicago policies on green card sponsorship allow for the sponsorship of individuals in staff and or Other Academic Appointment positions if several criteria have been met, different academic areas have their own policies that may be more specific and restrictive than the general University of Chicago policies. Therefore, we strongly urge you to consult with your department’s Human Resources Administrator to discuss your long term plans and to determine whether green card sponsorship may be feasible and, if so, under what conditions. It is recommended you have this conversation as soon as possible.

Sponsoring an Employee for Permanent Residence – Step-by-Step


The first resource for questions regarding sponsorship is always the HR Administrator of a given department.

A request for sponsorship for LPR directed to HRS must come from the unit, not from the individual seeking sponsorship.

If a request for sponsorship by the University is denied at any stage, the employee should be referred to OIA for advisement on alternative options (such as Lawful Permanent Residence under the National Interest Waiver option or other available non-immigrant statuses). OIA can also provide referrals to immigration attorneys.

1. Preparatory steps for sponsorship

Staff: The University does not sponsor individuals in staff positions for Lawful Permanent Residence. Please refer to the HRS website for the relevant University policy regarding sponsorship of foreign nationals, including possible exemptions.

If a department wishes to sponsor an individual in a staff position, the first step is to determine – based on the policy – whether the individual qualifies for a standard exemption. If the position does qualify for such an exemption, the department signs the request and sends it to HRS for review. (The request could be signed by the HR Administrator, the Executive Administrator, the Principal Investigator or Faculty Adviser, depending on procedures in place within a given department. Regardless of who signs the request, the HRA should be made aware that the request is being made.) Continue with The LPR process for Staff, OAA and Faculty below.

If the position does not qualify for a standard exemption, the request may be sent to the Dean or the Vice President for Research for signature before being sent to HRS for review. If any of the above refuse to sign the request, the department is informed of that fact. It means that the University will not sponsor the individual. If the Dean or the Vice President for Research signs the request, it is then forwarded to Karin Wuebker or Maria Dawson in HRS. If HRS approves the request, communication to that effect will be sent to the HRA. If the request is denied at any stage, the employee should be referred to OIA for advisement regarding other status options and possible referrals.

OAA or Faculty: The University does sponsor individuals in faculty or OAA positions. Prior approval by the University’s Office of Legal Counsel is required. (This is true even if the department does not pay for the legal fees incurred in the case.) The Office of Legal Counsel responds to the department. In the BSD, the Office of Legal Counsel responds to Academic Affairs. The request must come from the department, not from the individual seeking sponsorship.

2. The LPR process for Staff, OAA and Faculty:

Upon approval of sponsorship for a staff position, HRS informs the Office of Legal Counsel, outside legal counsel and the department of the approval and forwards approved job description to outside legal counsel. The HRA informs the employee of the decision to sponsor him or her. At this time the department should also discuss with the individual to be sponsored whether the department will or will not pay for any part of the expenses. The employee contacts the immigration attorney (once approved by the Office of Legal Counsel) to continue the process. Approval of sponsorship for OAA or faculty positions is communicated to the employee by the department. In the BSD it is communicated by the Office of Academic Affairs.

For most cases the law firm used is Kempster, Keller & Lenz-Calvo, Ltd.; faculty may request permission to use another law firm. This should be included in the request to the Office of Legal Counsel. Upon consultation with the University employee, the immigration attorney handling the case will determine, on a case by case basis, which type of Lawful Permanent Residence application will be filed.

In most staff and OAA cases, the initial step in the process will be the filing of a Labor Certification. For a description of that process, please see the Labor Certification Overview below. Most faculty cases will be filed under Special Handling which does not require a Labor Certification.



Updating the employee’s job description: For purposes of filing an LPR case, the employee’s job description should be detailed and up to date. To ascertain consistency within the University’s administrative system, the most up-to-date job description must also be entered into the HRS system. However, if the job description is updated for purposes of an LPR case only, HRS will not review the job description or initiate a re-classification of the position based on such an updated job description. (In other words, updating the job description in this context will not initiate additional HR changes in the employment.)

If sponsorship is denied by the University: If an employee is asking to be sponsored and the University chooses not to sponsor him/her, the employee should be referred to OIA for further consultation regarding available options.

Costs to be paid by department: The cost of the Labor Certification process must be paid by the employer; it cannot be paid, directly or indirectly, by the employee. It can also not be treated as an employee benefit. It is strictly a department’s business expense and charging it to the employee would constitute a violation of federal regulations. Any payment for legal fees must be approved by the Office of Legal Counsel; when payment is to be made, the department should send all completed and signed payment-related documents to Elizabeth Shanin and, after she has collected the needed additional signature (or consulted you in case of questions), she will send everything on to the Office of Financial Services.

Maintaining H-1B status during the LPR process: While an LPR application is under way, the University may be able to extend the employee’s H-1B status (in one or three-year increments, depending on how far the LPR process has progressed) indefinitely until the LPR case has been decided. To make this possible certain timely filings must have occurred. Consult OIA regarding which time-line may apply to your case.

Signatures on LPR-related documents: Letters stating that no U.S. citizen or permanent resident was able, willing, qualified and available to fill the position should be signed by the person in the department who has decision-making authority in hiring processes. The institutional signer for the University is Tamara Felden. Forms such as G-28s, Applications for Labor Certification, I-140s, I-485s, or any other government forms prepared by a law firm in the course of an immigration case must be sent to OIA. They will be processed there within a few days and returned directly to the law firm by a method/carrier that allows for tracking.



Flowchart (printable)



The Internal Process if a Labor Certification is required


Not all PR applications require a Labor Certification, but many do. While the immigration attorney will handle this part of the process, some elements must be handled by offices in the University.

Special Handling is a term that refers to an abbreviated Labor Certification process for faculty, and it can only be used if the process is undertaken within 18 months of the offer letter (NOT the actual hire). So the timing in applying for LPR for a faculty member is essential.

Once the immigration attorney has received approval for an LPR case from either HRS or the Office of the Provost, the attorney determines under which category of LPR options to file the case. This in turn determines whether an Alien Labor Certification will be required. If so, the following steps must occur:

  1. The attorney contacts the HRA to obtain the employee’s job description.
  2. The HRA sends the job description to the attorney;
  3. The attorney sends the posting for the Labor Certification to the HRA with instructions
  4. The HRA posts the notice for 10 business days, then takes down the notice, enters the posting dates and signs; the HRA returns the completed, signed posting to the attorney;
  5. The attorney sends the HRA the job ad for review. The ad must be placed in the following: Two Sunday editions of the Chicago Sun Times and in the Hyde Park Herald (placed by IA); the University of Chicago jobs site (placed by HRA); the Illinois Job Link site (placed by OIA with results provided directly to the attorney); the attorney charges for placing the ads; payment is required ahead of time.
  6. The HRA processes the DPV for advertising cost and attorney fee; all payments for legal work handled outside the University must be approved by the Office of Legal Counsel; DPVs should be sent to Elizabeth Shanin
  7. The attorney sends the HRA a draft letter addressed to the Certifying Officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.
  8. The HRA creates the letter, collects the signature of the PI or Chair, and sends the letter on to the attorney;
  9. The attorney sends ETA Form 9089 (Application for Permanent Employment Certification) to OIA for signature;
  10. OIA returns signed form to the attorney (3-4 days);
  11. The attorney prepares form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) and sends it to OIA for signature;
  12. OIA returns signed form to the attorney (3-4 days);

    (Steps 9/10 and 11/12 are often handled concurrently.)

  13. Once it is received, the IA provides the Approval Notice to the department, and a copy and the Public Examination File to OIA.
  14. OIA maintains the Public Examination File for at least 5 years.

Please note: Most H-1B status holders are encouraged to maintain their H-1B status while the application for LPR runs its course. Standard processing of H-1B extensions applies, with the exception that various stages of the LPR process may make the H-1B employee eligible for extensions beyond the standard maximum of 6 years of H-1B status.


Flowchart (printable)

flowchart for labor cert