Colleges and universities need the tools to recruit and retain the most talented professors, faculty and executive team, regardless of their country of origin. Non-profit college and universities can sponsor professionals on the H-1B visa outside of the competitive lottery. Other immigration options exist depending on the experience, expertise and country of origin of the foreign national. For a comprehensive overview of visas, green card options and the PERM process, download our complimentary 25-page Higher Education Employer’s Guide.
The H-1B visa is th e cornerstone of higher education immigration. Non-profit colleges, universities and research facilities are not beholden to the annual H-1B “cap” and its restrictive timeline and lottery. The H-1B visa can apply to any position considered a “specialty occupation” and requiring at least a bachelor’s degree (or its foreign equivalent) – including professors, administrators, researchers and scholars.
J-1 Exchange Visa
J visas may be used for work-authorized categories including professors and research scholars. The J-1 visa is intended to be used for cultural exchange and enrichment – therefore this visa is not a good option for a professor or researcher who would like to work long-term at the university. The J-1 visa can not be used for a candidate on a tenure track, or who has completed a professor program in the 24 months preceding the start date of employment.
O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa
The O Visa for extraordinary ability is intended only for the top few in the field of expertise in the world. The candidate must have a major award or prize (Nobel, Fields, etc.); OR documentation 3 of 8 categories specified in the Regulations; OR other “comparable evidence”. The job does not need to require extraordinary ability. The initial O-1 period is 3 years, annual extensions indefinitely thereafter in one-year increments. While difficult to obtain, the O-1 visa can be worth applying for if other options are not viable, as its qualifying categories can be broadly interpreted.
Treaty Country Visas – TN and E-3
The TN visa is available to citizens of Mexico and Canada and the E-3 visa is available to citizens of Australia. These visas do not provide a pathway to U.S. permanent residence but can be extended indefinitely, as long as the foreign national returns to their country of origin every three years.
EB-1, EB-2 and NIW “Green Cards”
The EB and NIW petitions allow college and universities to sponsor the foreign national for a green card. In some cases, qualified individuals can use the EB and NIW categories to self-sponsor for permanent residence. To sponsor a foreign national on an EB-1 or EB-2 petition, the petitioner be able to prove “extraordinary ability” and the employer must show the position requires exceptional ability. College and universities that sponsor foreign nationals on EB-1, EB-2 or NIW petitions do not have to receive labor certification from the Department of Labor, and foreign nationals typically enjoy a shorter wait time for their green cards.
PERM Process – Sponsoring for Employee Green Cards
The PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) process allows employers to sponsor foreign nationals for permanent residence in the United States. The PERM process requires employers to prove:
- No qualified U.S. workers are available to fill the position;
- The foreign national is qualified for the position offered; and
- The foreign national is eligible for permanent residence.
Click here for more information on the PERM process.
FordMurray attorneys work with colleges and universities across the United States to help craft immigration strategies that build an international faculty and student body. Our comprehensive services also include SEVP certification and compliance programs, and expert counsel on student visas. We offer complimentary consultations, and are always happy to help.