Immigration Status Classification Summary

Faculty and Staff Immigration Services (FSIS) works with employment-based classifications. For more detailed information, please contact us.

Nonimmigrant

TN: The TN classification is work authorization that resulted from NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The basic requirements for an individual to obtain TN status to work in the U.S. is that they be either a Canadian or Mexican citizen, and that they be a professional in one of the authorized professions. The TN may be obtained in up to 3 year increments, and there is no limit on the number of times and/or years this status can be granted.

H-1B: This classification is reserved for skilled professionals from other countries, including Canada and Mexico. Again, the profession must be one authorized by the USCIS. The employer may petition for H-1B status for an eligible individual for up to 3 years at a time, but no more than 6 years total. At the end of the six years, the foreign national must leave the U.S. for at least one year before they are eligible to seek H-1B status for another 6 year period.

O-1: This classification is reserved for "Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Education, Business, and Athletics" and "Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the Arts." Although it is a category for which not everyone is eligible, it may be characterized as the best employment-based nonimmigrant status one could have. You may petition for up to 3 years in the initial petition, after which time it must be renewed annually. There is no limit on the number of years it may be renewed, although it is questionable whether the USCIS would approve extensions in this category indefinitely (outside estimate may be around 10-12 years, but perhaps longer). One reason the O-1 is so attractive for some people is that it is possible to change status from J to O without the necessity of satisfying the 2-year foreign residency requirement to which so many J holders are subject. For more information on the J visa status, or the waiver of the 2-year requirement, please contact the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS).

E-3: The E-3 classification was created through a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Australia for skilled workers with. An employer may petition for E-3 status for an individual in one of the authorized with positions for up to 2 years at a time. There is no limit to the number of years for which the E-3 status can be renewed.

The dependent spouse and family members of a foreign national in any of these three nonimmigrant categories may attend school, but they are prohibited from working in anything other than a volunteer capacity. It is possible, however, for a dependent to obtain their own TN, H-1B, or O-1 if they can independently qualify for any of these categories.

Immigrant

PERM Labor Certification: This is the common name for the process by which Exceptional Ability Aliens, Advanced-Degree Professionals, and Skilled Professionals (Professionals with Bachelor's Degrees) obtain permanent resident status. Also known as Labor Certification, this is by far the most common route to employment-based permanent resident status, but it is also the most time-consuming.

It is a 3-step process wherein:

  1. The University first documents the recruitment and selection process and files it online with the Department of Labor. There are several key elements to keep in mind for Labor Certifications: The initial form must be filed with the Department of Labor no more than 18 months from the foreign national's date of selection (date Affirmative Action approves the hiring of the individual or the date of the job offer letter) for a faculty position, and no more than 6 months from the time of the first advertisement for a Professional and Scientific (P&S) position. The USCIS requires that for non-teaching faculty and P&S, the individual must be shown to have been the "only qualified" applicant.
  2. When certified by the Department of Labor, the University files the I-140 petition with the USCIS.
  3. Adjustment of Status is the final step in attaining permanent residency. It is the foreign national's responsibility (as the petitioner) to complete this final step by filing the USCIS Form I-485. The foreign national and each member of his or her family must either file to adjust status in the United States, or travel abroad to complete consular processing. Upon the completion of either of these final steps, the foreign national and dependent family members (spouse and children under age 21) become lawful permanent residents. For more information on this process please contact us.

Outstanding Professor or Researcher: Another available employment-based permanent resident classification is the Outstanding Professor or Researcher (OPR). To a certain degree, the OPR is a logical extension of the nonimmigrant O-1 category for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability. In fact, they share some of the same qualifying criteria. It is generally easier to transition from O-1 status to OPR status than it is to transition from, for instance, H-1B to OPR. The permanent residency process via the OPR classification does not require the preliminary PERM Labor Certification application with the Department of Labor. Instead, the employer proceeds directly to the filing of an I-140 petition with the USCIS on behalf of the employee. The I-140 petition filed for an OPR requires more supporting documentation than does the I-140 petition filed after receiving PERM Labor Certification, but the process itself is fairly straightforward.

Filing Fee Summary Chart

Immigration Filing Type Filing Fee Amount
H1B I-29 Filing Fee $460
H1B Anti-Fraud $500
TN (by mail) I-129 Free Trade $460
O1 I-29 Filing Fee $460
E3 (by mail) I-129 Free Trade $460
I-539 Dependent Filing Fee $370
I-907 Premium Processing Filing Fee (H1B/I-140) $1225
I-140 Permanent Residency Filing Fee $700
I-485 Adjustment of Status (LPR) Filing Fee $1225
I-765 H4 EAD Card Request Filing Fee $410