International Services


Permanent Residency

 

Who is a U.S Permanent Resident?

A United States permanent resident, commonly referred to as a green card holder, is a foreign national who has been granted authorization to live and work permanently in the United States. As proof of permanent resident status, a foreign national is granted a permanent resident card, commonly called a "green card". A foreign national can become a permanent resident through several ways.

The most common ways to become a permanent resident are through:

  1. sponsorship by a family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident,
  2. sponsorship by an employer in the United States,
  3. self-sponsorship in other employment-based applications,
  4. diversity visa lottery, or
  5. humanitarian programs like refugee or asylee status.

Employment-Based Green Card Application: Categories

Each year, approximately 140,000 immigrant visas (green cards) are available for foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in U.S. based on their job skills. Based on a combination of skills, education and work experience, a foreign national may qualify to apply for a green card under the following employment-based categories which are commonly used by foreign national employees sponsored by Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL):

A. EB-1: This category is for outstanding professors or researchers and persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. The majority of Laboratory-sponsored green card applications on behalf of foreign national employees on the scientific staff are EB-1 applications for outstanding researchers. In limited instances, the EB-1 extraordinary ability category may be used by foreign national employees who apply for a green card without Laboratory sponsorship.

B. EB-2: This category is for persons who are members of the professions holding an advanced degree (at least a Master’s degree) or for persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business; including those applying for National Interest Waivers. This category is typically used by Laboratory-sponsored green card applications on behalf of foreign national employees on the professional staff with a Master’s degree. This category may also be used by foreign national employees with at least a Master’s degree who apply for a green card without Laboratory sponsorship. If not applying for a National Interest Waiver, this category requires an approved labor certification, commonly called “PERM”.

C. EB-3: This category is for skilled workers, professionals, or other workers. “Professionals” are persons whose job requires at least a U.S. baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent and are considered as members of the professions. This category is (1) available for foreign national employees with a Bachelor’s degree and (2) requires Laboratory sponsorship, meaning, it cannot be filed by a foreign national on his own; and an approved labor certification, commonly called “PERM”.

Family-Based Green Card Application

In certain instances, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident may sponsor a qualified foreign national relative for a green card application to obtain permanent residence in the United States. A U.S. citizen or permanent resident may sponsor immediate relatives, as defined by immigration law and regulations, and certain relatives in the family preference categories described below. All other relatives may not be sponsored under the family category.

I. Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens

A U.S. citizen may sponsor his/her:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old
  • Parents, if the U.S. citizen is over 21 years old

The foregoing relatives are considered as the “immediate relatives” of a U.S. citizen for immigration purposes. A U.S. immigrant visa (green card) is immediately available to immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen after the approval of the immigrant petition. For information on how to apply for a Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen, click the link from the USCIS website: Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen

II. Other Relatives of U.S. Citizens

The other relatives of a U.S. citizen who may be sponsored for a green card are the following:

  • Unmarried son or daughter over 21 years old
  • Married children of any age
  • Brothers and sisters of a U.S. citizen who is over 21 years old

Unlike immediate relatives, there is an annual limit to the number of immigrant visas available to other relatives of U.S. citizens. After the approval of the immigrant petition filed by the U.S citizen, the foreign national applicant needs to wait until an immigrant visa becomes available before he/she can file a green card application. To find out how an immigrant visa becomes available, proceed to the discussion on Priority Dates.

III. Relatives of U.S. Permanent Residents

A U.S. permanent resident may sponsor his/her:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old
  • Unmarried son or daughter who is 21 years old or older

There is a limited number of immigrant visas available each year for the foregoing relatives of U.S. permanent residents. There is usually a waiting period when the sponsored relative must wait for his/her priority date to become current and an immigrant visa number to become available. This is referred to as a “family preference category”. To find out how an immigrant visa becomes available, proceed to the discussion on Priority Dates. For information on how to apply for a Green Card for a Family Member of a Permanent Resident, click the link from the USCIS website: Green Card for a Family Member of a Permanent Resident

Green Card Through Diversity Visa Lottery

The U.S. Department of State provides around 50,000 immigrant visas each year for persons from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States through the diversity visa lottery. A computer-generated random drawing selection process chooses from the pool of applicants for the diversity visa lottery, which is distributed among 6 geographic regions throughout the world.

Every year, the U.S. Department of State provides a list of countries which are excluded from the diversity visa lottery due to high rates of migration to the United States. For instance, for Diversity Visa Lottery 2013, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (Mainland-Born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

To be eligible for the diversity visa lottery, a foreign national must have at least a high school education or its equivalent; or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years’ training or experience.

The online application for the diversity visa lottery usually starts in October of every year and closes after a month. The lottery is usually done in May of the following year. When their priority number becomes current, the chosen applicants may then apply for a green card by filing an application for adjustment of status with USCIS which must be approved on or before September 30th of the following year. If the green card application is not approved before the September 30th deadline, the applicant loses the opportunity and his/her application will be denied. The foreign national may re-apply for the next diversity lottery.

For more information on the diversity visa lottery, click the link from the Department of State website: Diversity Visa (DV) Program

Is an Immigrant Visa Available?

Immigration law limits the number of green cards that can be issued each year. Family-based green cards in the preference categories are limited to 226,000 per year and employment-based green cards are limited to 140,000 per year. There is also a limited number of green cards allotted to each country. Green cards are unlimited for “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens.

What is a Priority Date?

Certain categories of family-based or employment-based green card applications are subject to a limited number of immigrant visas or green cards. The monthly Visa Bulletin issued by the U.S. Department of State contains the family-preference and employment-preference categories that have priority dates. The priority date refers to the date when an immigration petition on Form I-140 or Form I-130 is properly filed with USCIS. In the case of a PERM application, the priority date is the date the labor certification application was accepted for processing by the Department of Labor (when a labor certification is required). A properly filed petition has the required signature(s), filing fee, and any supporting documentation required at the time of filing. If properly filed, the petition will be officially received by USCIS by issuing a Receipt Notice. The priority date, if applicable, is printed on the USCIS Receipt Notice. If the priority date is current, which means that the date is on or before the date listed in the current Visa Bulletin, an application to adjust status to permanent resident (actual application for a green card on Form I-485) may be filed with the Laboratory’s employment immigrant visa petition (Form I-140). If the priority date is not current, the Laboratory will file the I-140 employment immigrant visa petition only. When the priority date becomes current, the Form I-485 application to adjust status to permanent resident will be filed.

Is Your Priority Date Current?

To check if your priority date is current, refer to the current Visa Bulletin which may be found at the U.S. Department of State website: Visa Bulletin at the U.S. Department of State or at the USCIS website: Visa Bulletin at the USCIS. The Visa Bulletin is updated monthly.

EXAMPLE: July 2013 (docx) Visa Bulletin for employment-based preferences

The Green Card Process is Generally a Two-Step Process

The First Step is the filing of the immigrant petition. This may be done using Form I-130, entitled “Petition for Alien Relative” for family-based green card applications or Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker for employment-based green card applications. This must be approved first before the second step application may be approved.

I-140 Employment-Based

  1. Filed by the Laboratory as the Employer/Petitioner
  2. Filing Fee: $580 (as of June 2013)

I-130 Family-Based

  1. Filed by U.S. citizen spouse on behalf of foreign national spouse
  2. Filing Fee: $420 (as of June 2013)

The Second Step is the filing of the actual green card application on Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If the priority date for the application is current, this form may be submitted simultaneously with the previous form. If the priority date for the application is NOT current, you cannot submit this form until the priority date is current. The current versions of these forms may be found at the USCIS website.

I-485 Application To Adjust Status

  • a. Filed by Foreign National Beneficiary and dependents (Spouse/Children under 21 years of age) to adjust status in the United States as a Permanent Resident.
  • Filing Fee and biometrics fee: $1070 (as of June 2013).

For applicants under 14 years of age, filing fee and biometrics fee is $635 (as of March 2013)

Supplemental Forms filed with I-485:

I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
I-131, Application for Travel Document

These two forms are Supplemental Forms filed with the I-485 and provide the Foreign National and dependents with an EAD/AP combo card (work authorization and advance parole travel document). No additional fee required.

Filing Fees:

For a Laboratory-sponsored green card application, the filing fees are paid by the Department. The filing fees for a dependent’s application are paid by the foreign national. Family related expenses are not reimbursable by the Laboratory.

Personal checks are an acceptable form of payment for the dependent’s application filing fees. Checks should be payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

EB-1 Outstanding Researcher Employment-Based Petition: Requirements and Checklist

This is the most common type of immigrant visa application filed by the Laboratory on behalf of its employees on the scientific staff. This kind of application requires employer sponsorship and cannot be filed by a foreign national on his own.

Requirements for an EB-1 Outstanding Researcher Petition:

I. Evidence that the researcher is recognized internationally as outstanding in his scientific field. Such evidence shall consist of at least two (2) of the following 6 criteria:

  1. Original research contributions: Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the scientific field;
  2. Publications: Authorship of scholarly books or articles in scholarly journals with international circulation in the scientific field.
  3. Reviewer of publications: Participation on a panel, or individually, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied scientific field;
  4. Published material about employee’s work: Published material in professional publications written by others about the foreign national’s work in the scientific field;
  5. International or national awards: Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the scientific field;
  6. “Fellowship” or outstanding membership in professional associations: Membership in associations in the scientific field that require outstanding achievements of their members;

II. Evidence that the researcher has at least 3 years of experience in research in the scientific field. The 3 years experience must start after finishing the PhD and may be experience gained at BNL or elsewhere.

III. Permanent Job Offer Letter - An offer of employment in the form of a letter indicating that the employer intends to employ the researcher in a permanent research position in the scientific field, and evidence that the employer employs at least 3 full-time researchers and have achieved documented accomplishments in the field.

Checklist of Required Documents for an EB-1 Outstanding Researcher Petition. Hard copies of the following documents are required to be submitted to USCIS with the application.

____ Narrative: A layman’s description of five (5) major original contributions – includes a general description of original contributions, employee’s specific role, significance of the contribution/development and implications of the contribution to the scientific/research community and/or the United States. With each specific contribution listed, specify which publication and/or conference presentation discusses each contribution.

____ 5 Reference letters with CV of referee – A referee may be a U.S. citizen or a foreign national, in the U.S. or outside the U.S., who is considered to be an expert and outstanding in his/her field. No more than 2 of the referees should come from the same institution. In a Laboratory-sponsored green card application, the initial drafts of the reference letters will be reviewed by an external immigration attorney contracted by Laboratory. After the revisions have been approved, the referee can then print the reference letter on his/her business letterhead and sign the same. The original signed reference letters with the referee’s CV must be submitted to USCIS with the application.

____ 10 to 25 publications - a maximum of 25 publications in international journals in the following order: Primary Author, Secondary Author, Third Author, etc. A minimum of 10 publications is required. A hard copy of the selected 10-25 publications must be submitted to USCIS with the application.

____ Updated CV with complete list of publications.

____ Citations list – may be prepared by BNL Library based on the list of publications on your CV

____ Awards, Patents, Inventions (with English translation if in a foreign language)

____ Published material about employee’s work: articles written by others about your work and mentioning your name

____ B.S., M.S. Ph.D. diplomas (with English translation if in a foreign language). If the degree was received from a foreign university, USCIS may require a Foreign Educational Evaluation of your degree. Contact the Office of International Services for a list of acceptable evaluations companies.

____ Proof of membership in associations requiring outstanding achievement. Some professional associations offer a level of membership such as an Honorary Member or Fellow that is awarded for eminent distinguished achievement, or granted to those who have attained a grade of distinction and are responsible for significant achievements in their field. For example: Fellows of the American Physical Society

____ Proof of reviewing or judging the publication/work of others – Submit a letter or email from the publication inviting you to review a publication or thanking you for reviewing a publication. You may also submit a computer screenshot of the publication website with the publications you’ve reviewed.

____ Job offer letter – from HR

Required Documents for Form I-485, Application To Adjust Status

Hard copies of the following documents are required to be submitted to USCIS with the application. The foreign national employee and his/her dependents (foreign national spouse or children), who are also applying for a green card, must submit the following documents:

____ Driver’s License (front and back)

____ Birth Certificate, (with English translation if in a foreign language): This must be requested from the home country as soon as possible to avoid delays in green card processing. This document can take up to six (6) months to obtain from some countries. The English translation may be done by a private individual (not the employee or dependent) provided it is a verbatim (word for word) translation of the birth certificate. It must contain the required certification as discussed at the end of this Checklist and must be notarized. The birth certificate must contain the full name of both parents.

____ Copy of current passport: Submit all pages of the passport except the blank pages.

____ Copy of old passport: Submit the old passport if it was used in the latest entry to the U.S. or if the old passport has a J or F visa stamp. Submit all pages of the passport except the blank pages.

____ 6 passport-sized Photographs with names written in pencil or permanent ink on the back of each photo. Photography services are available onsite to BNL employees at no charge. On-site Photography Services for BNL employees

____ Current I-94: If paper I-94: submit front and back. If electronic I-94, submit computer printout.

____ Current U.S. visa page

____ Current immigration status (I-797 Approval Notices, I-20’s, DS-2019’s)

____ Previous J and/or F immigration status (DS 2019 and/or I-20 and EAD): Submit all DS-2019s and all I-20s, including EAD if any.

____ Criminal history, if any: Final disposition required

____ W-2’s for the past 3 years

____ Complete Income Tax Returns for the past 3 years (Federal and State tax returns) (Form 1040 and State tax returns). To get a record of past income tax returns, contact the IRS and request for a tax transcript at: Get a Tax Transcript from IRS

____ 3 months’ pay statements. This may be printed from Peoplesoft.
Additional required documents if applying with dependents (spouse and/or children):

____ Marriage Certificate, with English translation if in a foreign language

____ Birth certificates of children, with English translation if in a foreign language

Joint Documents: submitted to prove bona fide (genuine) marital relationship

____ Joint Investments (401k, CD’s) indicating current residence and names of both spouses

____ Recent Statement of Joint Bank Accounts indicating current residence and names of both spouses; copies of joint credit cards

____ Mortgage/Lease of joint marital residence, indicating current residence and names of both spouses

____ Life/Car Insurance in joint names, reflecting spouse as beneficiary (Copy of declaration page reflecting spouse as second driver)

____ Medical and Dental Insurance (if spouse is under your insurance or vice versa). You may log into Peoplesoft, go to Benefits and print out the medical page and dental page which contains the names of the dependents on your insurance. Alternatively, submit copies of both medical and dental cards of both spouses

____ BNL Life Insurance and Retirement Plan (if spouse is beneficiary): You may log into Peoplesoft, go to Benefits and print out the life insurance page which contains the spouse’s name as beneficiary.

____ Any other evidence of joint assets or liabilities in the names of both spouses, indicating the current residence, for example, utility bills like cable, telephone, water; loan documents, credit cards, store cards

____ Envelopes (correspondence/junk mail/magazines) noting dependent’s name at marital residence.

If previously married:

____ Divorce Judgment and/or Death Certificate of former spouse

Filing Fees

____ Filing Fees for Dependents. The employee’s filing fees are paid by the Laboratory. The dependent’s filing fees are paid by the employee using a personal check or money order. Make checks payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security and write the name of the spouse at the bottom of the check.

The filing fee is $1070.00 for each dependent applying for a green card.

For a child under 14 years old, the filing fee is $635.

This fee includes the filing fee for Form I-485 (adjustment of status) and the Biometrics fee. Forms I-131 (Advance Parole Travel document) and I-765 (Employment Authorization Document) have no filing fees. Employees cannot be reimbursed for the dependent’s filing fees. Family-related expenses are not reimbursable.

____ Medical examination by an authorized Civil Surgeon

Medical examination must be done by a USCIS-authorized civil surgeon on the employee and each dependent applying for a green card. A list of authorized physicians in your area can be found on the USCIS website. On the left side of the homepage under the heading Find, click on A Medical Doctor (Civil Surgeon).

IMPORTANT: The medical examination is valid for only one year. If the one-year period had lapsed, a new medical examination is required. It is advisable to schedule the medical exam when all the reference letters and other required documents have been completed.

At the discretion of the Department, employees may apply for reimbursement of the cost of their personal medical examination from their Department by submitting to their Department Administrator an Official Receipt from the doctor’s office indicating the medical exam cost for the employee only, excluding the dependent/s. Ask for a separate receipt for your medical exam. Family-related expenses are not reimbursable.

The civil surgeon may be chosen based on geographic location, availability or cost. The cost of the medical exam ranges from $200-$500 depending on the civil surgeon chosen.

On the date of the appointment, bring all vaccination records if available. If not available, vaccination may be requested instead of getting the vaccination record from the home country. Requesting for vaccination may avoid potential delays in the medical examination.

Within 48 hours, the employee will be asked to return to the doctor’s office to check on the TB skin test. Thereafter, the doctor’s office will inform the employee when the medical exam results will be available.

The medical exam results will be given to the employee in a sealed envelope. Only USCIS may open the sealed envelope. The employee may request a personal copy of the medical exam results for the employee’s personal record. The copy of the medical exam results must be reviewed by the employee, specifically for the doctor’s signature, correct date and form expiration date. The medical form used by the civil surgeon must be the current Form I-693 posted at the USCIS website.

Translations of foreign documents:

All foreign documents must be translated to English. The following Certification must be added to the English translation. The English translation must be notarized.

I hereby certify that I translated this document from ____________ to English. This translation is accurate and complete I further certify that I am fully competent to translate from ____________ to English.

Signature      ____________________________________
Printed name ____________________________________
Date            ____________________________________

EB-2 Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability in the Sciences with NIW: Requirements and Checklist

This is the usual type of application filed by the Laboratory on behalf of employees in the professional staff. The EB-2 category is for foreign nationals who are members of the professions holding an advanced degree (at least a Master’s degree) with application for a National Interest Waiver (NIW). The Laboratory files an EB-2 application in the following instances:

  1. Laboratory-sponsored green card applications on behalf of foreign national employees on the professional staff with a Master’s degree;
  2. Laboratory-sponsored green card applications on behalf of foreign national employees on the scientific staff who do not have 3 years post-doctoral research experience or are not eligible for an EB-1 outstanding researcher category;

This category does not require employer sponsorship and may be filed by a foreign national on his/her own (self-sponsorship) and preferably with the assistance of a private immigration attorney. An EB-2 NIW application may be filed by a foreign national employee who has at least a Master’s degree and does not have Laboratory sponsorship.

Priority Date for EB-2 NIW

There is a limited number of immigrant visas for the EB-2 category. An EB-2 application for a green card is assigned a priority date which is the date the immigrant visa application was properly filed with USCIS. The priority date may be found on the Receipt Notice for the application filed with USCIS.

For example: August 2013 (docx) Visa Bulletin

The current Visa Bulletin may be found at: the U.S. Department of State website: Visa Bulletin at the U.S. Department of State or at the USCIS website: Visa Bulletin at the USCIS.

Application for a National Interest Waiver

There is no statutory or regulatory definition of the term “national interest”. USCIS uses a three-prong test to evaluate requests for a national interest waiver.

  1. Whether the foreign national seeks employment in an area of substantial intrinsic merit. The importance of the occupation or the field of endeavor must be established. It must be shown how the particular field of endeavor is related to an important national goal. Evidence must be presented on the relative significance to the national interest of the particular activity in which the foreign national is engaged and the crucial role he/she plays in that activity. The foreign national’s credentials must be documented, including how these credentials benefit the foreign national in filling that crucial role. It must be shown that others with inferior credentials cannot fill that crucial role.
  2. Whether the proposed benefit will be national in scope. Emphasize the existence of a national goal that the foreign national’s job will promote. Show direct or indirect correlation between the national goal and the employee’s job.
  3. Whether the significant benefit derived from the foreign national’s employment outweighs the inherent national interest in hiring U.S. workers. This is the most important standard. Strong evidence must be presented. Playing an important role in a project that is in the national interest is not sufficient.
  • Prove that the foreign national will present a significant benefit to the field of specialization.
  • Uniqueness of foreigner’s experience and skills is not sufficient. The benefit of foreign national’s skills and background must considerably outweigh the national interest in hiring U.S. workers. Demonstrate service to the national interest through a record of achievements with some degree of influence on the field as a whole.
  • Submit evidence on the relative standing of the foreign national in the field showing that the foreign national is superior to others in the field.
  • Present evidence of unique knowledge, abilities or experience that sets the foreign national apart from others in the field with the guidance that only the best and the brightest individuals who will be serving critical U.S. needs will be given national interest waivers.
  • Show a history of valuable contributions made by the foreign national in the field and the practical significance of these contributions.
  • Present evidence of the critical role played by the foreign national in cutting-edge projects in the field.

A discussion of the fulfillment of the NIW requirement, as indicated above, must be included in the reference letters.

Requirements for an EB-2 NIW Petition

I. A request for a waiver of a job offer and labor certification because the employment is deemed to be in the national interest, with documentation provided to show that the foreign national’s presence in the United States would be in the national interest; and

II. Master’s degree or equivalent (Bachelor’s degree and five years of progressive experience); or

III. At least three of the following:

  1. Official academic record showing degree, diploma, certificate relating to area of exceptional ability;
  2. Letters from current or former employers showing at least ten years of full-time experience;
  3. A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation;
  4. Evidence that the alien has commanded a salary, or other remuneration for services that demonstrates exceptional ability;
  5. Evidence of membership in professional associations; or
  6. Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations.

IV. Comparable evidence such as evidence required for an EB-1 outstanding researcher:

  1. Original research contributions;
  2. Publications: Authorship of scholarly books or articles in scholarly journals with international circulation in the scientific field.
  3. Reviewer of publications: Participation on a panel, or individually, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied scientific field;
  4. Published material about employee’s work: Published material in professional publications written by others about the foreign national’s work in the scientific field;
  5. International or national awards: Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the scientific field;
  6. “Fellowship” or outstanding membership in professional associations: Membership in associations in the scientific field that require outstanding achievements of their members;

Checklist of Required Documents for an EB-2 NIW Petition. Hard copies of the following documents are required to be submitted to USCIS with the application.

____ Narrative: A layman’s description of five (5) major original contributions – includes a general description of original contributions, employee’s specific role, significance of the contribution/development and implications of the contribution to the scientific/research community, importance and/or benefit to the United States. With each specific contribution listed, specify which publication and/or conference presentation discusses each contribution.

____ 5 Reference letters with CV of referee – A referee may be a U.S. citizen or a foreign national, in the U.S. or outside the U.S., who is considered to be an expert and outstanding in his/her field. No more than 2 of the referees should come from the same institution. At least 3 of the referees must be affiliated with or working at a U.S. institution. In a Laboratory-sponsored green card application, the initial drafts of the reference letters will be reviewed by an external immigration attorney contracted by the Laboratory. After the revisions have been approved, the referee can then print the reference letter on his/her business letterhead and sign the same. The original signed reference letters with the referee’s CV must be submitted to USCIS with the application. Unlike the reference letter for an EB-1 outstanding researcher application, the EB-2 NIW reference letter must discuss compliance with the national interest waiver requirement.

____ Publications, if any. A hard copy of the publications must be submitted to USCIS with the application.

____ Updated CV with list of publications (if any)

____ B.S., M.S. diplomas, including Ph.D. (if any) (with English translation if in a foreign language). If the degree was received from a foreign university, USCIS may require a Foreign Educational Evaluation of your degree. Contact the Office of International Services for a list of acceptable evaluations companies.

____ Employment verification letters. Letters from current and/or previous employers showing ten (10) years of full-time experience in this occupation

____ License to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation

____ Evidence of salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates exceptional ability

____ Evidence of membership in professional associations

____ Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations

Additional Documents, if available:

____ Publications

____ Citations list

____ Awards, Patents, Inventions (with English translation if in a foreign language)

____ Published material about employee’s work: articles written by others about your work and mentioning your name

____ Ph.D. diploma

____ Proof of membership in associations requiring outstanding achievement

____ Proof of reviewing the publication of others – Submit a letter or email from the publication inviting you to review a publication or thanking you for reviewing a publication. You may also submit a computer screenshot of the publication website with the publications you’ve reviewed.

Required Documents for Form I-485, Application To Adjust Status

Same checklist as previously discussed under EB-1 outstanding researcher category. Form I-485, application to adjust status to permanent resident, may be filed only if the priority date is current.

PERM: EB-2 Advanced (Master's) Degree or EB-3 Bachelor's Degree

The PERM process is usually done for Laboratory-sponsored green card applications on behalf of the following foreign national employees:

  1. Foreign national employees who are members of the professions holding an advanced degree (Master’s degree) and are not eligible for an EB-2 NIW or
  2. Foreign national employees with a Bachelor’s degree and less than 5 years progressive experience prior to joining the Laboratory or
  3. Foreign national employees who otherwise would qualify for an EB-2 NIW but for business interest decision, the sponsoring Department has chosen the PERM process.

The PERM Process is a 3-Step Process

The first step is the filing of a labor certification application with the Department of Labor. The electronic filing system for labor certification applications is called Program Review Electronic Management (“PERM”). The second step is the filing of the application Form I-140 with USCIS. The second step may be done only after the approval of the labor certification application by the Department of Labor. The third step is the filing of the application Form I-485 with USCIS provided that the priority date is current.

Labor Certification Application

The labor certification application requires good faith recruitment by the employer to find an able, willing, qualified and available U.S. citizen or permanent resident worker for the job opportunity. It is a certification by the U.S. Department of Labor after recruitment efforts by the employer that

  1. there is no able, willing, qualified and available U.S. citizen or permanent resident for the job opportunity; and
  2. the hiring of a foreign national for the job opportunity will not adversely impact the wages and working conditions of similarly situated U.S. workers.

PERM requirements:

  1. Job description and minimum job requirements – to be discussed by your supervisor and case manager
  2. Approved Prevailing Wage Determination – to be filed by external attorney
  3. Recruitment activities – to be done by the Laboratory. The employee is not allowed to participate in the recruitment activities. All recruitment expenses are paid by the Laboratory. The recruitment planning and recruitment period takes approximately 6 months.
    1. Job Order posting with the NY State Job Bank for 30 days.
    2. 2 Sunday newspaper advertisements with Newsday
    3. Notice of Job Availability Posting at the Laboratory
    4. 3 additional recruitment steps from the following:
      1. Laboratory website posting
      2. Employee Referral Program (ERAP)
      3. Job search website like careerbuilder.com
      4. Job fair
      5. On campus recruiting
      6. Campus placement office
      7. Trade or professional organization journal

Checklist of Required Documents for a PERM application:

____ Updated CV with list of all publications

____ Employment verification letters may be required. Letters from current and/or previous employers showing required number of years of full-time progressive experience in the job opportunity

Delays in PERM processing

Among the issues to be considered when filing a PERM application are the long processing times, the high probability of audit review (around 33%), random or targeted audits and supervised recruitment. If a labor certification application were audited, the delay is at least one year. During audit, the Department of Labor verifies that the recruitment activities were done according to the regulations and the required evidence of recruitment have been submitted.

PERM Processing Times (docx) (as of June 4, 2013)

Priority Date for PERM (EB-2 or EB-3)

There is a limited number of immigrant visas for employment-based categories, especially the EB-2 and EB-3 categories. A PERM application for a green card is assigned a priority date which is the date when the labor certification application was filed with the Department of Labor. After the PERM application is approved, the Laboratory can then file Form I-140 with USCIS.

Check the latest Visa Bulletin to find out the priority date for EB-2 or EB-3. If the priority date is current, the Form I-485, application to adjust status to permanent resident (actual application for a green card) may be filed with the Laboratory’s I-140 employment immigrant visa petition. If the priority date is not current, the Laboratory will file the I-140 employment immigrant visa petition only. When the priority date becomes current, the I-485 application to adjust status to permanent resident will be filed.

Dependent’s green card application

A foreign national employee’s dependents (spouse and children under 21 years old) are considered as “derivatives” and may file a green card application simultaneously with the employee’s application. The dependents must submit the same documents required for Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, as previously discussed. The filing fee for the dependent’s application and the cost of the medical examination of the dependent are the personal responsibility of the employee and cannot be reimbursed by the Department.

Laboratory Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) Sponsorship Policy

Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) policy concerning sponsorship of foreign national employees for Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) is in accordance with the provisions of the Immigration Act of 1990 and is as follows:

BNL sponsorship requires an offer of a permanent position at BNL. A permanent position means tenured, tenure-track, or for a term of indefinite or unlimited duration, and where the employee will ordinarily have an expectation of continued employment unless there is good cause for termination.

Therefore, BNL should sponsor only those employees who have been judged during annual performance appraisals or status reviews to be strong prospects for continuing or tenure-track appointments or those who hold regular non-term appointments on the professional staff. It is understood that all costs of sponsorship will be the responsibility of the sponsoring department including attorney’s fees, and advertising and recruitment costs if a PERM application is the preferred immigrant visa type of application. Immigration filing fees and the medical examination fee for the employee’s LPR application will be subject to reimbursement by the sponsoring department. This reimbursement does not apply to dependents. The employee must initiate the request for reimbursement with his/her department.

Primarily, the LPR process takes place between the employee, the Office of International Services (OIS) and the immigration attorney. The employee bears the responsibility of meeting critical deadlines set by OIS in order to avoid delays in filing the petition as well as any negative consequences that may result from such delay. It is the employee’s responsibility to promptly communicate with OIS any information which might have a bearing on the employee’s LPR application, promptly reply to OIS emails and requests for documents and information, and meet regularly with OIS staff for data collection. The sponsoring department also acknowledges that the employee’s failure to follow through with the process may result in significant delays leading to the employee’s loss of immigration status and consequently, termination from BNL resulting from the loss of immigration status.

After permanent residence is acquired by the employee, it is expected that the sponsoring department and the sponsored employee shall remain committed to employment for at least one year in order to withstand any challenge on the employer-sponsored LPR application.

Other Conditions of Laboratory sponsorship:

The following are additional parameters of BNL sponsorship that are also agreed to:

  1. It is expected that the employee will qualify for the category being applied for. It is noted that even if the employee qualifies for the category being sought, the decision to grant or deny petitions is solely an administrative decision rendered by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). BNL cannot influence this decision.
  2. The lawful permanent resident application of the employee will be referred to the immigration attorney engaged to represent BNL and that the legal fees and other expenses for immigration processing will be paid out of the sponsoring department/division’s funds. It is expected that legal fees and expenses will be in the area of $15,000 but could go higher depending on the circumstances.
  3. It is understood that the sponsoring department/division should keep the employee employed for a minimum of one year past the granting of permanent residence so that neither party’s legitimate basis for sponsorship can be challenged during future dealings with USCIS.
  4. If the employee resigns from BNL any time from the date of the signing of this agreement, during the process of acquiring permanent residence and/or within one year from the date that permanent residence is granted, BNL reserves the right to request reimbursement for all the fees and expenses incurred by BNL in the processing of the employee’s LPR application.
  5. It is understood that there are travel restrictions related to the filing of the Adjustment of Status (AOS) application on Form I-485. The employee [including dependent] agrees to remain in the United States at the time of the filing of the AOS application until USCIS issues the Receipt Notice. The employee [including dependent(s)] must also be in the United States to go to the employee’s Biometrics Appointment. Outside of the foregoing two periods, the employee [including dependent(s)] may travel abroad on the employee’s current visa. To this end, it is agreed that the employee must inform OIS of the employee’s international travel plans from the date of this agreement until he receives the final permanent residence document (green card).
  6. The employee agrees to promptly inform OIS of any change in the employee’s mailing address from the date of this Agreement until the employee receives the green card. It is the responsibility of the employee to promptly inform USCIS of any change in the employee’s mailing address by an online application of change of address AND by telephone through the USCIS Customer Service hotline if the employee moves at any time after the filing of the LPR application.
  7. It is the responsibility of the employee to effectively communicate in a timely manner with OIS and the immigration attorney regarding his/her LPR application. Any failure to follow up on the application by the employee may result in significant delays in filing the petition, and as a further consequence, may result in the termination of the employee from the BNL if lawful immigration status is not maintained. OIS wants to avoid delays in the process, so we ask that you keep us informed of any potential delays or concerns pertaining to the immigration attorney.
  8. OIS is obligated to respond to all parties in a timely manner but no more than 72 hours from the date of the receipt of any communication.

How to Initiate a Laboratory-Sponsored Green Card Process

At the beginning of a foreign national employee’s 4th year in H-1B status, OIS will send an email to the BNL Department inquiring about LPR sponsorship. Before this period, the employee may ask his/her Supervisor about LPR sponsorship or may contact OIS to check with the Department if it would sponsor his/her LPR application. To start the processing for a green card application, OIS must receive an email confirmation from the employee’s Supervisor, Department Chair and/or Department HRM that the Department is willing to sponsor the employee’s green card application. The Laboratory should sponsor only those employees who have been judged during annual performance appraisals or status reviews to be strong prospects for continuing or tenure-track appointments or those who hold regular non-term appointments on the professional staff. Upon receipt of the email confirmation, the OIS Case Manager will prepare and send the LPR Agreement to the Department Admin for the signature of the Department Chair, Supervisor and the employee.

If the Laboratory will not sponsor the green card application, the employee may still file a green card application in a category that allows self-petition such as an EB-2 with National Interest Waiver, or Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A) category. In the event that the Laboratory will not sponsor the green card application, OIS can provide a list of private immigration attorneys that the employee may consult at his/her own expense.

Timeline for Green Card Processing

Department sponsorship/Preparation of LPR Agreement/Receipt of signed LPR Agreement

At the beginning of a foreign national employee’s 4th year in H-1B status, OIS will send an email to the Department inquiring about LPR sponsorship. Before this period, the employee should ask his supervisor to contact OIS about LPR sponsorship. To start the processing of a green card application, OIS must receive an email confirmation from the supervisor, Department Chair and/or Department HRM that the Department is willing to sponsor the employee’s green card application. Upon receipt of the email confirmation, the Case Manager will prepare and send a green card or LPR Agreement to the Department Admin for the signature of the Department Chair, Supervisor and the employee.

Request for current CV with complete list of publications

Upon receipt of the LPR Agreement, the OIS Case Manager will contact the employee to request an updated CV or resume with a complete list of publications. An outdated CV will be rejected.

Initial OIS Meeting

An initial meeting will be scheduled by the OIS Case Manager to discuss with the employee and the Supervisor the green card process, documentary requirements, timeline, travel restrictions, etc. During the meeting, the employee will be provided with checklists, guidelines, sample reference letters, sample narrative, etc.

Initial EB-1/EB-2 NIW LPR Meeting Package:

  1. EB-1 outstanding researcher regulatory requirements
  2. I-140 checklist
  3. Sample narrative
  4. 4 sample reference letters
  5. Reference letter guidelines
  6. AOS checklist (adjustment of status)
  7. LPR processing timeline
  8. Medical and Biometrics Guidelines

Regular meeting for discussion and data collection

Following the initial meeting, the OIS Case Manager will schedule a regular meeting for the submission of the required documents.

  • Meeting 1: a draft narrative is expected to be submitted
  • Meeting 2: first draft reference letter is expected to be submitted
  • Meeting 3: second draft reference letter is expected to be submitted
  • Meeting 4: third draft reference letter is expected to be submitted
  • Meeting 5: fourth draft reference letter is expected to be submitted
  • Meeting 6: fifth draft reference letter is expected to be submitted

OIS Review of draft reference letters

After OIS review of the Narrative (which contains a layman’s description of 5 major original scientific contributions) and the 5 draft reference letters, the OIS Case Manager will assign the green card application to an external immigration attorney who will further review the reference letters and narrative. This review of the initial documents takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks.

Revision of reference letters

The external attorney will provide comments and suggestions on how to improve the reference letters. The employee is expected to revise the letters based on the suggestions of the external attorney. The revised letters will be returned to the external attorney until they are approved for finalization. This revision of the reference letters takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks.

Medical Examination

The required medical examination must be done by a USCIS-authorized civil surgeon on the employee and each dependent applying for a green card. A list of authorized physicians in your area can be found on the USCIS website. On the left side of the homepage under the heading Find, click on A Medical Doctor (Civil Surgeon).

The medical examination is valid for only one year. The medical examination should not be scheduled without prior notice to the OIS Case Manager. The OIS Case Manager will inform the employee when it is best to schedule the medical examination. Do not schedule your medical exam without consulting with the OIS Case Manager.

LPR Questionnaire

The OIS Case Manager will send an email to the employee with instructions for the employee to answer the Questionnaire in OIS’ case management system (Lawlogix). A separate email will be sent for the employee’s dependents who are also applying for a green card.

Additional Data Collection meetings

The OIS Case Manager will meet regularly with the foreign national employee to collect the required supporting documentation until all the documents are submitted.

Filing of Green Card Application

The employee and dependents must remain in the United States during the final preparation of the green card application forms and supporting documents and until the employment authorization and advance parole (EAD/AP) combo card is received. Foreign travel during this period is deemed an abandonment of the green card application (Form I-485), which would require the re-filing of Form I-485 and the payment of new filing fees. The cost for re-filing the green card application and the new filing fees will be paid by the employee.

Receipt Notices

Within 2-3 weeks after the filing of the green card application to USCIS, the Receipt Notices will be issued. The Receipt Notice means that the application has been received by USCIS and found to have complete initial documentation (for example: filing fees, medical exam, etc.) The Receipt Notice contains the Receipt Number which can be used to track the status of the application using USCIS’s Online Case Status system at Check Your Case Status

Biometrics Appointment

Approximately 1-2 months after the issuance of the Receipt Notice, USCIS will issue the Biometrics Notice which is a notice for the employee and dependents to appear at the nearest USCIS Biometrics Service Center to have their fingerprints and photograph taken. If the employee is unable to attend the scheduled biometrics, the OIS Case Manager must be contacted immediately so a reschedule can be requested. The employee and dependents must go to this appointment otherwise the green card applications will be denied.

EAD/AP combo card

Within 1-3 months after the issuance of the Receipt Notices, USCIS will issue the employment authorization document (EAD) and Advance Parole (AP) commonly referred to as EAD/AP combo card. This card is valid for 1 year and serves as proof that the applicant is authorized to work in the United States and may be allowed to re-enter the United States after foreign travel even without a valid visa stamp in the passport.

Possible RFE

While the application is being reviewed and processed by USCIS, there is always a chance that USCIS will request additional evidence or information (RFE). In the event that an RFE is issued by USCIS, the OIS Case Manager will coordinate with the employee to gather and provide the requested additional documentation and information. USCIS usually grants 87 days for the requested documents to be submitted.

Processing times for I-140/I-485

Although the processing time for each individual case varies, USCIS provides a general timetable for the processing of the Forms. The link can be found at Check USCIS Processing Times. However, it should be noted that the processing time information provided by the link above is only a general timetable, and the processing of the specific case may be outside of the processing time. The OIS Case Manager will only contact USCIS when the application is at least 30 days outside the posted processing time.

Approval of the I-140 immigrant petition

The Form I-140 immigration petition is approved generally within the posted processing time. An approved Form I-140 for an EB-1 category means that the Laboratory has successfully proven that the employee is an outstanding scientist or researcher.

Approval of the I-485 immigrant petition

The Form I-485 immigration petition is approved generally within 1 or 2 months after the approval of the Form I-140. In certain instances, the approval of the I-485 may be delayed due to background checks, flawed medical examination, complex immigration history, etc. The approval of I-485 results in the issuance of the Green Card.

Receipt of the Green Card

The Green Card will be mailed to address provided on the green card application forms that were submitted to USCIS. In case of a change of address anytime during the processing of the green card application, the OIS Case Manager must immediately be notified. The employee must submit form AR-11 on the USCIS website at Change of Address and call USCIS Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283. When the Green Card arrives in the mail, the employee must review it for accuracy and report any errors to the OIS Case Manager immediately. If the green card has no errors, the employee must provide a scanned copy of the front and back of the green card to the OIS Case manager. The OIS Case Manager will forward a copy of the green card to the HR Records Group.

Foreign Travel Restrictions During LPR Processing

With prior notice to the Office of International Services, an employee may travel abroad during the LPR processing (preparation of documents) with OIS and re-enter the United States using a valid H visa stamp in the passport. If the visa stamp in the passport is expired, a new H-1B visa stamp must be obtained from a U.S. consulate abroad. Before making final travel plans, the employee should contact ois@bnl.gov to request a travel packet and get the latest travel/visa advisory; and inform the OIS Case Manager.

The employee and dependents applying for a green card are required to be physically in the U.S. when the green card application (Form I-485) is filed and received by USCIS. The employee and dependents must not travel abroad after signing the green card forms and until the EAD/advance parole combo card has been received from USCIS. In the event that foreign travel is unavoidable, the employee must inform the Case Manager immediately in order to hold the filing of the green card application until the employee’s return to the U.S.

Rights and Obligations of a U.S. Permanent Resident

A U.S. permanent resident, commonly referred to as a green card holder, is a foreign national who has been granted authorization to live and work permanently in the United States. As proof of permanent resident status, a foreign national is granted a permanent resident card, commonly called a "green card". The green card must be in a U.S. permanent resident’s possession at all times. A green card is valid for 10 years, or 2 years in the case of a conditional resident. It must be renewed before the card expires.

A U.S. permanent resident has the right to:

  • Live permanently in the United States provided he/she does not commit any acts that would make him/her removable under immigration law. If such act is committed, the U.S. permanent resident may be brought before an immigration court to determine his/her right to remain a permanent resident.
  • Work in the United States at any legal work of his/her qualification and choosing.
  • Be protected by all laws of the United States, his/her state of residence and local jurisdictions
  • Ask for readmission to the United States after foreign travel which is not longer than 1 year. If the foreign travel will last longer than 1 year, a reentry permit must be applied for.

A U.S. permanent resident must:

  • Keep the green card in his/her possession at all times
  • Obey all laws of the United States, the states, and localities
  • File an income tax return and report his/her income to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and state taxing authorities
  • Register with the Selective Service, if male, ages 18 through 25
  • Notify the U.S. immigration office of any change in his/her mailing address by filing form USCIS Form AR-11 by mail or online via Change of Address
  • Present a valid passport when applying for an immigration benefit with USCIS and when traveling abroad

Temporary Foreign Travel as a U.S. Permanent Resident

A U.S. permanent resident may be readmitted to the United States after foreign travel which is not longer than 1 year. The absence in the U.S. for at least a year may be considered an abandonment of one’s permanent residence status. Thus, if the foreign travel will last longer than 1 year, a reentry permit must be applied for.

The following situations may also be considered as abandonment of permanent resident status:

  • Moving to another country with the intention of living there permanently
  • Remaining outside the U.S. for more than 1 year without a reentry permit
  • Remaining outside the U.S. for more than 2 years after issuance of a reentry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa
  • Failure to file income tax returns while living outside the U.S. for any period
  • Self-declaration as a “nonimmigrant” on tax returns

For more information about options after obtaining a green card, click the link from the USCIS website: After the Green Card is Granted

The USCIS website provides “How Do I” Guides for Permanent Residents. Find this page at: How Do I Customer Guides.

Applying for U.S. Citizenship

Foreign national employees who are interested in applying for U.S. citizenship may go to the USCIS website for information: USCIS Citizenship Information

The USCIS website provides the following information:

  • Should I Consider U.S. Citizenship?
  • Learn About Naturalization
  • Apply for Citizenship
  • Study for the Test
  • Find Help in Your Community
  • Attend an Information Session
  • Understand Rights and Responsibilities

IMPORTANT INFORMATION - GREEN CARD LOTTERY

The Office of International Services at Brookhaven Lab would like to inform all foreign nationals and interested members of the Lab community about the US Department of State’s Diversity Visa Lottery program. This annual program makes permanent resident visas (green cards) available to persons who fit certain eligibility requirements through a computer-generated, random drawing method. On an annual basis, this program allocates up to 50,000 “diversity lottery” visas, drawn from random selection, to persons from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

For fiscal year 2016, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply because the countries sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China (main-land born)
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (except N. Ireland)
  • Vietnam

Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible to apply.

The application period—for the 2016 DV Lottery program—starts on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at noon eastern daylight time (EDT) and continues until Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 at noon eastern standard time (EST). For more information, read the State Department's Diversity 2016 Instructions (PDF) or contact the Office of International Services at ois@bnl.gov.

 

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Last Modified: October 27, 2014
Please forward all questions about this site to: ois@bnl.gov