Immigration Status Assistance Policy

[Faculty Handbook Category #3]

Sponsorship of Foreign Nationals for H-1B Non-Immigrant and Permanent Resident Status

1) Policy Statement: Because St. Olaf College values diversity among its faculty, as well as its students, it has adopted the following policy concerning sponsorship of foreign national faculty members and candidates for tenure-track positions for H-1B non-immigrant and Permanent Resident Status.

2) Initial H-1B Visa: If a foreign national requiring visa sponsorship to secure work authorization with the College wishes to accept an offer of a tenure-track position, the prospective faculty member may request that the College make arrangements to obtain H-1B non-immigrant visa status for the prospective faculty member. The H-1B visa category is designated for individuals coming temporarily to the United States to perform services in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is defined as an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher for the specific specialization. If the College chooses to make such arrangements, the college shall pay the legal fees and filing fees incurred in obtaining the H-1B status for the prospective faculty member. If the prospective faculty member has a spouse and/or family members who require a derivative visa status, the legal fees and filing fees are the responsibility of the prospective faculty member.

3) H-1B Visa Extension: Once H-1B status has been obtained for a tenure-track faculty member and the faculty member has begun employment with the College, such faculty member may subsequently request that the College make arrangements to extend his or her H-1B status as needed. The initial H-1B visa can cover a period of up to three years. It can be extended for a maximum period of three additional years. In general, the maximum amount of time a faculty member may spend in H-1B status is six years unless certain steps have been reached in the permanent residence process. Requests for H-1B extensions should be made at least seven months in advance of the expiration of the faculty member’s current H-1B status. If the College intends for the individual to remain a tenure track faculty member and chooses to make the requested arrangements for an extension of H-1B status, the College shall pay the legal and filing fees incurred in the extension of status. As with the initial H-1B visa petition, the responsibility for extending the visa status of any spouse or other family members shall lie with the faculty member.

4) Permanent Residence (“Green Card”) Sponsorship: If a tenure-track faculty member has taught at the College for one (1) semester, a request may be made for assistance from the College in obtaining lawful permanent residence, i.e., a “green card.” Permanent Residency is the legal right to live and work in the United States indefinitely. A request for assistance in obtaining permanent residence must be submitted in writing by the department chair to the Provost. The decision regarding sponsorship will be made on a case-by-case basis. If a decision is made to sponsor a tenure-track faculty member for permanent residence, the College will work with the faculty member to determine the most appropriate process for the individual to obtain his or her green card.

Except in certain exceptional cases, the process used to pursue employment-based permanent residence for faculty members will involve the “special handling” labor certification procedures available to colleges and universities. The primary steps in this process are as follows:

  • Labor Certification: The first step in the process generally will be obtaining an approved labor certification from the Department of Labor. The College will take primary responsibility for this step. Note that, in order to take advantage of “special handling” labor certification procedures, which allow the College to establish that it hired a foreign tenure-track faculty member after a competitive recruitment and selection process, the labor certification must be filed within 18 months after the tenure-track faculty member’s selection for the position. The clock starts running when the search committee selects the faculty member for the position, not when the faculty member begins employment. As such, an initial request for assistance must be made by a tenure-track faculty member within 10 months of the date listed on the offer letter. For example, if the faculty member was offered the position on February 1, 2015, a request for assistance in obtaining permanent residence should be made no later than December 1, 2015.
  • Filing The Immigrant Petition and Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing: Steps two and three include filing the immigrant petition and the adjustment of status or consular processing of the immigrant petition. The primary responsibility for these steps lies with the faculty member. The tenure-track faculty member may request that the College provide financial assistance in the additional steps of this process. With respect to the filing of the immigrant petition and adjustment of status or consular processing, the Provost, in consultation with the Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity and the Vice President of Human Resources, in his or her discretion, may agree to pay all filing fees and up to $11,000 per tenure-track faculty member for attorneys’ fees incurred with these two steps. In such cases, the faculty member shall pay any attorneys’ fees incurred in the green card application process over $11,000 and shall be responsible for all filing fees and attorneys’ fees related to the green card application process for any spouse or other family members.

5) Cooperation: The faculty member or candidate must make reasonable efforts in obtaining documentation and information requested throughout the H-1B petition and green card application process to minimize attorney fees.

6) Disclosure Obligations: Any individual making a request under this policy must disclose to the College at the time of the request anything regarding the individual or his or her family that may make any application or process under this policy problematic or unusually expensive. In such instances, the College reserves the right to deviate from this policy in whatever manner it deems appropriate.

7) College Discretion: In deciding whether to provide assistance, the College will take into account all relevant factors including, without limitation, the need for the candidate, the faculty member’s progress toward tenure, and the estimated expense to the College of providing the desired assistance. If the College agrees to assist the candidate or faculty member, the College may, in its discretion, discontinue its assistance in the non-immigrant petition or green card application process at any time.
July 1, 2015