Permanent Residence

What is USC’s Permanent Residence Sponsorship Policy?

USC will sponsor international faculty and staff for permanent residence (a “green card”), where their employment qualifies and where the department will support the process.

Read the LPR Policy »

How does permanent residence processing begin?

Permanent Residence is a complex process that often takes longer than a year to undergo.  There are roughly two steps:

STEP A:  USC Sponsorship

  • Categories we sponsor:
    • EB-1(A) – Extraordinary Ability
    • EB-1(B) – Outstanding Professor/Researcher
    • EB-2 via “Special Handling” PERM (Faculty/Instructional Positions)
    • EB-2 via Regular PERM (Staff and non-instructional positions requiring a Master’s degree and above)
    • EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW)
    • EB-2 Schedule A, Group II (Exceptional ability in the sciences or arts, excluding performing arts).
    • EB-3 via Regular PERM (staff positions requiring a Bachelor’s degree and above)
  • Who has legal standing to file for sponsored categories with the government? All of the categories above require the employer to file, with the exception of EB-1(A) and EB-2 National Interest Waiver cases.  These can also be filed by the individual, as a “self-sponsored” application.
  • How long does it take? From initiation to sponsorship approval: 12-18 months on average.
  • Who pays for what?
    • Department: Government Filing Fees, additional miscellaneous costs.
    • FSVS: Attorneys, if needed.
    • Individual: Nothing.

STEP B:  The Individual’s I-485 “Green Card” Application

  • Who has legal standing to file an I-485 with the government?  Only the individual.
  • Who pays for what?  The individual is responsible for paying all attorney fees, government filing fees, and miscellaneous costs associated with I-485 processing.  Their department may choose to reimburse them either fully or up to an agreed-upon figure.  The department and individual are jointly responsible for having this discussion early on.  See information below.
  • How long does it take?:  6-18 months, on average.

Because of the complexity of the process, each case begins with an in-person consultation including the foreign national, the FSVS Director, the authorized department liaison, and any other parties that may be appropriate for that case.  In the meeting, we discuss qualifying factors, processing routines, strategy, and fees.

We strongly recommend that consultations be set up for new faculty as soon as they arrive on campus, and for staff as soon as they qualify per the policy.

The department administrator can contact FSVS at (213) 740-5257 to book an appointment.

Who sets the strategy?

FSVS has the subject matter expertise, in-house and through our own attorneys, to strategize the best solution for the person and their department.

What about costs?

The department and the university will pay USC sponsorship costs (which can include advertising, government fees, attorney fees and more). The foreign national is responsible for paying all costs associated with their I-485 “green card” application.  Costs and fees will be discussed in detail in the consultation, since they vary by case type.

Get additional cost information »

NOTE:  Fall 2017:  Recent Changes

In September 2017, the USCIS further announced that it will require in-person interviews for all employment-based green card applicants, including family members.  Such interviews require attorney assistance for quality and accountability at this critical stage.

In the past, FSVS informally assisted faculty sponsored under EB-2 Special Handling category to prepare and file the I-485 step.  With the government’s announcement, FSVS can no longer provide this assistance.  It is in the best interests of each international faculty and staff member to hire an attorney to represent them in the new process:  to prepare the I-485, to prepare them for the interview, and represent them and any family members applying with them at the interview.

Get Attorney information » 

Can the individual hire an attorney to take care of everything?

Please note that outside attorneys are not authorized to prepare cases that require university sponsorship.  Additionally, signatures at the department and school level on these types of petitions/applications are not authorized.

Instead, individuals may decide to pursue a self-sponsored permanent residence case independently of the university’s assistance.  FSVS is happy to provide information on working with U.S. immigration attorneys.

Get Attorney Information »