Lawful Permanent Residency

Photo of a resident card.A lawful permanent resident is a person who has been lawfully accorded the privilege of residing in the United States as an immigrant. An individual who is lawfully admitted to the U.S. as an immigrant is commonly referred to by different terms, including: immigrant, permanent resident, lawful permanent resident, legal permanent resident and Green Card holder. An individual can become a lawful permanent resident through a variety of avenues; there are three principal ways to qualify.

  • Family—requires a close family member who is a U.S. citizen or LPR to petition on behalf of the alien member.
  • Employment-based—related to the kind of work the non-immigrant will be engaged in, it often requires (though not always) a U.S. employer petition on behalf of the non-immigrant.
  • Public or humanitarian policy—to meet the needs of refugees and asylees, as well as public goals, such as diversity.

Policies and procedures

Western Michigan University departments wishing to sponsor someone for lawful permanent residency based on WMU employment must go through a multistep process. The Haenicke Institute for Global Education coordinates all employment-based permanent residency petitions; WMU departments cannot hire outside attorneys to petition for WMU employment-based LPR.

In cases of the EB-1 Extraordinary Ability and EB-2 National Interest Waiver categories, individuals have an option of hiring their own immigration attorney at their own expense, as these categories do not require an offer of employment.

To begin the permanent residency process for an employee, or for additional information, please contact the WMU immigration officer in Immigration Compliance at (269) 387-5865.

Employment-based permanent residence options

EB-1 Extraordinary Ability

  • Type of individual: one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor, as shown by sustained national or international acclaim and recognized achievements.
  • Job offer requirement: none; can self-petition. Individuals must prove that they will continue to work in the area of expertise.
  • Labor certification requirement: none.

EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher

  • Type of individual: professor or researcher who is recognized internationally as outstanding in an academic field and who has at least three years of teaching or research experience in the field.
  • Job offer requirement: must have offer of a permanent full-time position.
  • Labor certification requirement: none.

EB-2 Advanced Degree Holder

  • Type of individual: one holding a degree above a bachelor's degree, which is required for the job offered.
  • Job offer requirement: must have offer of a permanent full-time position that requires an advanced degree or equivalent.
  • Labor certification requirement: required; special handling procedures available to university teachers.
  • With National Interest Waiver: No job offer or labor certification is required if it is established that an exemption to those requirements would be in the national interest.

EB-2 Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business

  • Type of individual: one with at least 10 years of experience in the field with expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts or business.
  • Job offer requirement: must have offer of a permanent full-time position.
  • Labor certification requirement: required.
  • With National Interest Waiver: No job offer or labor certification is required if it is established that an exemption to those requirements would be in the national interest.

EB-3 Professional or Skilled Worker

  • Type of individual: one with at least a bachelor's degree in a specific field of endeavor (professional) or with at least two years of specific education, training or experience (skilled worker).
  • Job offer requirement: must have offer of a permanent full-time position that requires either a specific bachelor's degree or two years of specific training or experience.
  • Labor certification requirement: required; special handling theoretically available for college teachers, although most such positions required an advanced degree.

EB-2 or 3 Schedule A Group I

  • Type of individual: one who is trained and licensed either as a physical therapist or a professional nurse.
  • Job offer requirement: must have offer as permanent position as physical therapist or professional nurse.
  • Labor certification requirement: none; since the U.S. Department of Labor has provided a "blanket" certificate for these occupations.

EB-2 or 3 Schedule A Group II

  • Type of individual: one of exceptional ability in the sciences or arts (except performing arts) with widespread acclaim and international recognition, who has been practicing his/her own art for at least one year prior to application.
  • Job offer requirement: must have offer of permanent employment which requires an individual of exceptional ability, in addition to the normal EB-2 or EB-3 minimum education, training and experience requirements.
  • Labor certification requirement: none.

WMU has appointed the Haenicke Institute as the only WMU office eligible to file any WMU employment-related applications or petitions with U.S. immigration or any other U.S. government agencies. Thus, hiring an outside attorney by an employee or a department is not permitted. Please contact the immigration officer in Immigration Compliance to begin the LPR process for the foreign national employee as early as possible.

The Program for Electronic Review Management system is utilized for filing a permanent labor certification application with the U.S. Department of Labor to sponsor LPR for foreign national employees. Filing a labor certification is the first step of the three-step process.

By filing a labor certification, the employer is asking for a finding by the U.S. Department of Labor that there are no qualified, willing, able and available U.S. workers to do the job that the employer is offering to a foreign national and that the employment of an alien will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

All labor certifications filed with U.S. Department of Labor must be filed (by the employer) meeting the PERM recruitment requirements. PERM has two tracks: special handling option for university teachers; and basic track for non-teaching faculty and professionals.

Filing a PERM application is a very complicated and complex process, as rules and regulations change often; consult with the WMU immigration officer in advance for each individual case. In addition, individual advertising and recruitment efforts by an employee or department might not meet the PERM requirement. Then, all previous recruiting efforts have been wasted and might not be used for the filing under PERM.