UAB departments frequently sponsor scholars for immigrant worker status by filing a Form I-140. Depending on your resume and the department’s needs, an I-140 can be filed in one of several categories. Please note: university policy and procedure require ISSS to review all employment-based petitions prior to filing with USCIS. Prospective international employees are welcome to hire an attorney to help collect the necessary support letters; however, UAB does not allow attorneys to submit Form G-28 to represent UAB in the immigration petition. All employment-based permanent residence petitions undergo an extensive signature routing process at UAB to ensure that all interested parties support the petition.

Note: ISSS provides advice only to UAB departments and their prospective international employees. Individuals not affiliated with UAB should direct inquiries to an immigration attorney.

EB-1B Outstanding Professors and Researchers


If you 1) have earned an MD or PhD in your field, 2) have gained three years of experience following completion of your doctoral degree, and 3) your department wishes to sponsor you for a tenured faculty position, tenure track faculty position, or permanent researcher position, the EB-1B category is for you. EB-1B status is available to outstanding professors and researchers. If you can satisfy the evidentiary requirements for an EB-1B immigrant worker petition, your department can bypass the time-consuming and expensive PERM labor certification process, and you will be able to apply for permanent residence immediately upon approval. USCIS review of an EB-1B petition is highly subjective, and the petition requires a substantial amount of supporting evidence. You can find a printable summary of the evidentiary criteria discussed below here.

UAB will sponsor individuals who meet the above three criteria in addition to at least three of the following:

  • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field
The beneficiary should provide a copy of the award/prize and a translation of the document, if not in English. In addition, provide documentation from an authoritative source explaining the criteria for the award/prize and indicating the significance of the award/prize on a national or international level.

  • Membership in associations in the academic field that require outstanding achievement
Documentation should include proof of membership in the form of a membership card, proof of payment of dues, etc. Include the criteria for membership, steps required to become a member, and the total number of members of each association.

  • Published material in professional publications written by others about the beneficiary’s work in the same or a related field
Documentation should include the date and author of such material and any necessary translations. Evidence must include copies of the material and should be categorized according to (i) reviews of the beneficiary’s work; (ii) research continuing from (or inspired by) the beneficiary’s work; and (iii) footnoted acknowledgment of data from the beneficiary’s publications.

  • Participation on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the same or a related field
Documentation may include review articles written by the beneficiary and published in professional journals, letters from journal editorial review boards acknowledging that the beneficiary has served as a reviewer of manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals, letters from universities attesting that the beneficiary has served on dissertation or thesis committees, and/or letters or other written documentation attesting that the beneficiary judged a scientific competition. Documentation should also include evidence that the beneficiary completed the requested task, not just letters of invitation.

  • Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field
Documentation should include letters or affidavits from recognized experts in the beneficiary’s field of endeavor commenting on the beneficiary’s achievements in his/her field that clearly and completely demonstrate how the beneficiary’s achievements elevate him/her to the status of outstanding professor or researcher with national or international recognition. These letters should include information about the writer’s qualifications for commenting on the beneficiary’s achievements and how long and in what capacity the writer has known the beneficiary.

Approved patents may serve as evidence of original scientific research. Proof of participation in professional conferences and meetings may provide evidence of original scientific or scholarly research contributions.

  • Authorship of scholarly books or articles in scholarly journals with international circulation in the academic field
The beneficiary should provide copies of the cover page of each article, book chapter, or book with English translations as appropriate. Evidence should include the extent of circulation of the journals. If the beneficiary is not the primary author of an article, he/she should obtain a letter from the primary author(s) stating whether the beneficiary’s involvement included any notable function on either the research or writing teams (leadership, control, design, etc.).

Additional Supporting Evidence Required for EB-1B Petition

  • Permanent Job Offer
UAB must provide a letter offering the beneficiary either tenure, a tenure-track position, or a permanent research position in his/her academic field. Research positions are generally not tenure-track; USCIS has defined a “permanent research position” as one which the employer intends to continue for an indefinite period of time. Proof that a research position is permanent may include copies of personnel paperwork and/or budget sheets from grants. Post-doctoral scholars do not hold permanent research positions and therefore cannot be sponsored for EB-1B status.

  • Experience Letters
The beneficiary should obtain evidence documenting three years of post-doctoral degree teaching and/or research experience in a letter from current and former employers including the name, address, and title of the writer and a specific description of the duties performed by the beneficiary. Experience in teaching or research while working on a doctoral degree is acceptable only if the beneficiary has received the degree and had full responsibility for the classes taught, or if the research toward the degree has been recognized as outstanding within the academic field.

Support letters should be addressed to USCIS, but they should not be mailed to USCIS! All support letters should be provided to the beneficiary, who will provide them to ISSS. ISSS will then file the completed Form I-140 and all supporting evidence with USCIS.

  • Current CV
Include all education, teaching experience, publications, conferences, memberships, etc. Please provide Google citation indices for your most-cited papers.

  • Credentials and Licenses
Bring clear photocopies of all diplomas (with English translations, as appropriate), credential evaluations, licenses (if required for the position), certificates, awards, memberships, etc.

  • Check
A check for $700 payable to “US Department of Homeland Security” must be provided when ISSS is ready to file the I-140 petition with USCIS.

If time is of the essence, the department can decide to pay an additional $1,225 for Premium Processing, meaning that USCIS will “adjudicate” the petition within 15 calendar days. Please be aware that “adjudicate” means either approve, deny, or issue a Request for Evidence (RFE), which stops the clock and can considerably delay the process. If you wish to premium process a petition, please complete Form I-907 and return it to ISSS with the rest of your supporting materials.

You cannot file the I-485 adjustment of status application (a/k/a "green card" application) until a visa number is “current” in the Department of State's Visa Bulletin. Please see the Adjustment of Status section below. If visa numbers in the EB-1B category are ever not current, your “priority date” will be the date USCIS accepted the Form I-140 for processing. You can read more about priority dates here.

More information about the EB-1B petition process can be found on the USCIS website. You must book an appointment with our Associate Director for Scholar Services to discuss which employment-based category may be right for you.

EB-2 Advanced Degree Professionals


International employees who have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, or who hold an advanced degree (at least a master’s, or a bachelor’s degree plus five years of experience), can demonstrate that their employment would be in the United States’ national interest, can qualify for an I-140 immigrant worker petition in the EB-2 category. This category requires UAB to file a request for a prevailing wage determination and conduct recruitment before filing a PERM labor certification (“labor cert”). Once the I-140 is approved, citizens of China and India must wait for a visa number to become available before they can apply to become permanent residents (i.e., apply for a “green card”), since green card applications are oversubscribed from these countries. Citizens of all other countries can immediately apply for a green card as long as the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin is current (“C”) for that country. The Visa Bulletin is issued monthly and can be monitored here.

To qualify for an EB-2 petition at UAB, you must be able to provide proof of the following:

  • The job offered must require a master’s degree
  • Proof (in the form of official academic records) of your degree(s)
The date your labor cert is accepted for processing by the Department of Labor is known as your “priority date” and determines when you can apply to become a permanent resident. Essentially, when your priority date is on or before the date currently listed for your country in the monthly Visa Bulletin published by the Department of State, you can apply for permanent residence (i.e., a green card).

More general information about the EB-2 petition process can be found on the USCIS website. You must book an appointment with our Associate Director for Scholar Services to discuss which employment-based category may be right for you.

Self-Sponsoring Options for Immigrant Status


EB-1A “Alien of Extraordinary Ability” Petition

If you have “extraordinary” ability in the arts or sciences, you can file an application for EB-1A status without having a job offer from a specific employer, and you do not have to undertake the PERM labor certification process.

EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) Petition

In order to be successful with an EB-2 NIW petition, you first must demonstrate that it is in the national interest of the United States that you are granted permission to work permanently here. In addition, you must prove that you meet any three of the criteria below:
  • Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
  • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
  • Membership in a professional association(s)
  • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility
Once you have established your eligibility based on the criteria above, you then must also satisfy all three prongs of the test established in Matter of Dhanasar, 26 I&N Dec. 884 (AAO Dec. 27, 2016), namely that:
  • Your proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;
  • You are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; AND
  • It would be beneficial to the United States to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements.
More general information about the EB-2 NIW process is available on the USCIS website.

UAB Processing

Once your category is determined and all documents are collected and reviewed, UAB will assemble your petition and circulate it throughout the university for signature. This process is known as “routing,” and depending on the petition, it can take a week to obtain all necessary signatures.

Priority Date

Your priority date determines when you can apply to become a permanent resident. The Department of State updates the timeframes for filing green card applications (known as “adjustment of status” or I-485, see below) in a monthly Visa Bulletin. Scroll down to Section A “Final Action for Employment-Based Preference Cases” under the “Employment-based” column. You cannot file an application for permanent residence until the chart indicates that USCIS is reviewing applications for individuals with a priority date of at least the date listed or earlier.

Adjustment of Status


“Adjustment of status” or “AOS” is an informal name for the process of applying to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States and obtaining a “green card.” Once your I-140 petition is approved and a visa number is available for citizens of your country (see the Visa Bulletin for updates), please download and complete the following documents—one for yourself, and one for your spouse and any children age 14 or older:
  • Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident
  • Form G-325A, Biographical Information
  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (advance parole)
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
Even if you don’t think you or your family members will need EADs and/or advance parole documents, we strongly suggest that you apply for them along with your green card so that you do not have to pay extra USCIS fees later ($410 and $575, respectively). If you apply for them together with your green card, there is no additional fee.

Schedule an appointment with a USCIS-approved civil surgeon (doctor) in the area to complete Form I-693. A list of USCIS-approved civil surgeons can be found here.

Please also collect:
  • Copies of your marriage certificate and birth certificates of all family members not born in the US (if applicable)
  • Copies of the biographical page and all US visa stamps from each family member’s passport
  • Two identical color passport photos for each family member taken according to the following specifications: 2 inches by 2 inches, full face, frontal view, white or off-white background, thin paper with glossy finish, bare head unless headwear is required by religion, no glasses, head height should measure between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches. Please print your and your family members’ names and A numbers (if applicable) on the back of each photo with a pencil or felt-tipped pen. You can have photographs taken in Room 103 of the One Stop Office at the Hill Student Center on campus.
  • Checks or money orders made payable to “US Department of Homeland Security” in the amounts of:
    • $1,225 for EACH Form I-485 filed for you and family members age 14 or older
      • Note: This amount includes the $1,140 filing fee and the $85 biometric fee.
    • $750 for EACH Form I-485 filed for family members age 13 or younger

Please book an appointment with our Associate Director for Scholar Services to review your documents before filing. After filing your AOS application, you will receive a Form I-797, Receipt Notice, from USCIS. You can use the receipt number found in the upper left-hand corner to track your case status online. Later, you will receive another notice from USCIS providing the date and time of an appointment for biometric screening (fingerprinting). Do not miss that appointment!

Permanent Labor Certification Process


ISSS will process permanent labor certifications for international employees if requested by a sponsoring department. They are called “permanent” because this is the route most international employees take in order to qualify for permanent work authorization in the US (a “green card”). Labor certification is a recruitment process monitored by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (DOL-ETA) to determine whether a qualified US citizen, permanent resident, or individual in valid asylum or refugee status (“qualified US worker”) is available to fill the position for which you wish to hire an international employee. UAB departments must follow the regulations for recruitment, summarize the results, and maintain the records for five years.

Standard Recruitment for Non-College or University Teaching Positions Under 20 CFR § 656.17

The labor cert must be submitted to the DOL electronically for certification within 180 days of the beginning of recruitment. If certified, UAB will file it and work with the department to file a Form I-140 (petition for immigrant worker) with USCIS. Once the I-140 is approved, the beneficiary can apply to become a permanent resident. There are three key stakeholders in the recruitment process with designated roles as follows:

Human Resources Management (HRM)
  • Conduct recruitment for the position
  • Maintain records of the labor cert for five years
  • Respond to the Department of Labor within 30 days in the event of an audit

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)
  • Maintain contact with the sponsoring department
  • Provide and collect the Statement of Responsibility
  • Provide labor cert packet to sponsoring department
  • Contact HRM to begin recruitment
  • Request prevailing wage from the Department of Labor
  • Create posting notice and send to sponsoring department to post for 10 consecutive working days
  • Complete labor cert application online, print for administrative review and approval, and file electronically

Sponsoring Department
  • Initiate process with ISSS
  • Sign Statement of Responsibility
  • Pay for job advertisements
  • Post notice at job site for 10 consecutive working days
  • Interview applicants referred by HRM within 30 days of receipt of application
  • Complete Recruitment Cover Sheet for each application received from a US worker
  • Sign final Recruitment Report detailing job-related reasons for rejecting US workers

Procedure


Step Responsible Party Time Required
HRM ISSS Department
Notify ISSS that you wish to hire an international employee by submitting Statement of Responsibility signed by faculty department sponsor and chair     X
Send department a labor cert packet   X   1 day
Complete and send Personal Request Form (PRF) to HRM     X 1 day
Review PRF and provide copy to ISSS* X     2 days
Request Prevailing Wage Determination from Department of Labor via iCERT   X   3 months
Create posting notice and send to department   X   1 day
Post notice for 10 consecutive working days     X 10 consecutive working days
Notify Career Services to publish job ads   X   Same day
Place job ads with requisition number** X     2 days
Determine and document 30-day recruitment window X     30 days
Mandatory 30-day "quiet period" during which applications are still received       30 days
Review and forward resumes of minimally-qualified applicants to department with Resume Cover Sheet (RCS) X     As received
Interview and complete RCS for minimally-qualified applicants in a timely manner***     X As scheduled
Return all resumes and RCS to HRM along with a Recruitment Report****     X After interviews concluded/after 30 days
Provide results of recruitment efforts to ISSS X      
Create and scan recruitment file***** to Xtender and retain for five years X      
Draft labor cert application online and print for HRM review   X   2-3 days
Sign labor cert packet when presented by beneficiary     X 1 day
Send  labor cert  packet to administrative signatories with UAB Routing Slip   X   1 week
File  labor cert  application online via iCERT   X   1-2 days
DOL reviews and certifies  labor cert  application (or issues Notice of Finding requesting additional information)       3-5 months
TOTAL ESTIMATED TIME REQUIRED   7-9 months

*HRM reviews the PRF for minimum requirements, verifies salary, and provides a copy to ISSS. If the position requires experience, the beneficiary must have gained the experience with an employer other than UAB. The beneficiary must obtain a letter from each employer detailing the experience gained during employment.

**HRM must place a job ad with requisition number with each of the following:

***If no qualified US workers are identified for position, the sponsoring department must provide lawful, job-related reason(s) for not hiring each US worker on the Recruitment Cover Sheet.

****The Recruitment Report must summarize the number of US workers rejected and state the lawful, job-related reason(s) for doing so.

*****The recruitment file must contain the recruitment rubric, hard copies of the original ad tear sheets, all applications and CVs, Recruitment Cover Sheets, and the Recruitment Report.

Special Recruitment for College or University Teaching Positions Under 20 CFR § 656.18

You may think you know what “college or university teacher” positions are, but the Department of Labor defines them as positions that “involve some actual classroom teaching.” Additionally, the DOL has stated that “No minimum hours of actual classroom teaching is [sic] required to bring an application within the scope of the special handling procedures for college and university teachers. However, some amount of actual classroom teaching is required to bring an application within the scope of the special handling procedures.”

If the DOL cannot determine from the labor cert application whether or not the job opportunity involves “actual classroom teaching,” it will request additional information requiring the department to specify how many hours of actual classroom teaching the position requires. ISSS is well aware that many UAB faculty perform crucial teaching functions outside of the traditional classroom environment, such as instructing medical students in clinical settings, during hospital teaching rounds, and at worksites. However, please be prepared to specify how many hours of teaching the position demands.

Generic, open-rank ads that are not published in a national journal or its website equivalent and that do not state, at a minimum, the job title, minimum education and experience requirements, and a generic description of job duties will not pass a DOL audit for special handling and cannot be used. Contact ISSS for a review of your recruitment materials prior to hiring if you need to sponsor an employee for a green card.

UAB must be able to document that the international employee was selected for the university teaching job opportunity after a competitive recruitment and selection process through which the international employee was found to be more qualified than any US worker who applied for the job.

Documentation of UAB’s competitive recruitment and selection process must include:
  1. A statement, signed by an official who has actual hiring authority for UAB, outlining in detail the complete recruitment procedures undertaken, including
    1. The total number of applicants for the job opportunity;
    2. The specific, lawful, job-related reasons why the international employee is more qualified than each US applicant; and
  2. A final report of the faculty, student, and/or administrative body making the recommendation or selection of the international employee at the completion of the competitive recruitment and selection process;
  3. A copy of at least one advertisement for the job opportunity placed in a national professional journal, giving the name and the date(s) of publication and stating the job title, duties, and requirements;
  4. Evidence of all other recruitment sources utilized; and
  5. A written statement attesting to the degree of the international employee’s educational or professional qualifications and academic achievements.
If for (3) above you place an ad in the online version of a national professional journal, please print a copy of the ad as it appears on the first day published on the website and as it appears on at least the 30th day published on the website. Other evidence of the start and end dates of the ad could be in the form of an invoice for the job posting or an affidavit from the job posting website attesting to the dates the ad was published.

Do NOT list “preferences” (such as certain foreign language skills, preferred degree level, or field of specialization) in advertisements unless you want them listed as “requirements” on the labor cert application ISSS later files. If you include requirements or preferences in job ads that are not listed as requirements on the labor cert application, the Department of Labor will deny the labor cert. You can, however, keep preferences in mind when evaluating the relative qualifications of all applicants.

A generic job web site is not the same as a national professional journal—a national professional journal website would include articles as well as job listings. According to NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, “The Department of Labor is generally satisfied with basic descriptions and does not require employers to list every job duty and requirement. Nevertheless, employers should be careful to craft their ads with an eye towards meeting the minimal content requirements of the regulation. For example, a pointer ad that includes only the employer’s name and the position title would most likely not hold up in the event of an audit.”

The department must provide a copy of the recruitment file and a summary of the recruitment process to ISSS. Journal tear sheets or printouts of electronically posted job ads are required.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires UAB to certify that the hiring of an international employee will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of US workers comparably employed. To comply with the statute, the wages UAB offers its international employees must meet or exceed the prevailing wage rate for the occupational classification in the area of employment. The prevailing wage rate is defined as the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in the area of intended employment. ISSS will request a prevailing wage determination from the DOL and prepare a posting notice for the department to post in a conspicuous location at the job site for 10 consecutive working days. An acceptable “conspicuous location” is in the immediate vicinity of posted federal wage and hour or OSHA notices. If the position is one for which UAB usually uses in-house media (print, electronic, or other) to recruit, the notice must also be posted there. The labor cert cannot be filed until 30 days after the 10th day the notices were posted.

ISSS will prepare the labor cert application, print for HRM review, obtain administrative signatures, and submit electronically. A copy of the recruitment file will be maintained with both the sponsoring department and HRM for audit purposes. ISSS must receive all necessary documents to file the labor cert application with the DOL within 18 months of the date on the hire letter. If a US worker who is more qualified than the prospective international employee is identified during recruitment, the sponsoring department MUST offer the position to that more qualified US worker.