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Permanent Residence: Pathways and Policies

A lawful permanent resident is an foreign national who has permission to reside in the US on a permanent basis and to work, study, and travel, and otherwise live in the US without maintaining other status.(i.e., holders of “green cards”).


Pathways to Permanent Residence

  • Employment Based Petitions
    Petitions under this category are based on an active employment relationship within the US, either through direct sponsorship through your current employer or through "self petition", both of which are subject to very strict eligibility criteria (more information). Please refer to the University's sponsorship policy for employment based permanent residency below.
  • Family Based Petitions
    These immigration petitions are outside the purview of the University of Rochester and its legal abilities to offer assistance. They are varied and include things like immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, children, and parents), close family members of citizens, or permanent residents (unmarried sons and daughters of citizens; spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents; married sons and daughters of citizens and brothers and sister of citizens). For help on family based petitions go to
  • Diversity Lottery
    The Diversity Lottery program is usually held in October and November each year and allows for qualified foreign nationals to apply for Permanent Residence eligibility based on low immigration rates from their home country in recent years (more information).


University Sponsorship Policy: Employment Based Permanent Residency

The term “sponsor” refers to the act of lending support to an application through the means of a long-term job offer. An offer of a permanent position refers to an offer of a long-term position at the University.  Sponsorship for permanent residence does not constitute a guarantee of lifetime employment or of tenure.

The position must be permanent in nature and full-time. Part-time positions cannot be sponsored for permanent residence. The employee must meet the United States and Immigration Services (USCIS) criteria for permanent residence. The University does not sponsor staff position for permanent residence. Generally, the University sponsors people meeting USCIS requirements in:

  • Tenured or tenure-track teaching or research positions requiring a doctorate degree
  • Research positions having no fixed term and in which the University will ordinarily have an expectation of continued employment unless there is a good cause for termination

Sponsorship Process

The sponsoring Department must intend to employ the individual for at least three years. Funding for the position must be guaranteed for three years. The permanent residence process may take two to three years.  The job must be available to the applicant at the end of the permanent residence process. Departments interested in sponsoring an employee for permanent residence should send a short statement in layman’s term explaining the employee's current and prior research/teaching accomplishments, his/her job description, and CV to ISO. ISO will then contact the department, review the situation, and make recommendations as to the best path to permanent residence.

ISO will make the final determination for each individual case to determine if the position and the person can be sponsored for permanent residence by the University. Certain ISO staff have sole authorization to sign immigration petitions representing the University to USCIS. Department Chairs, administrators, faculty, or staff are not authorized to sign immigration documents. Permanent residence should not be guaranteed to candidates during the interview process.

Positions eligible for permanent residence sponsorship by the University

  • Tenure and tenure-track positions (i.e., Assistant, Associate, or Full Professors)
  • Research Assistant Professors
  • Research and scientist positions requiring a Ph.D.
  • Medical Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Physician Assistants
  • Nurse Practitioners

Positions not eligible for permanent residence sponsorship by the University

  • Postdoctoral Researchers/Fellows – they are considered temporary and training positions
  • Medical Residents/Fellows – they are considered temporary and training positions
  • Entry-level faculty or researcher positions that do not require a Ph.D.
  • Staff positions