UKIC / International Student & Scholar Services / International Faculty & Staff / Green Card (Permanent Residence) / Employer-Based Residency

Employer-Based Residency

A permanent resident (often referred to a green card holder) is someone who is not a U.S. citizen but has been authorized to permanently live and work in the United States. An immigrant visa petition is usually filed by an employer or relative.  

The University of Kentucky will sponsor employer-based permanent residency petitions for certain qualified positions with prior approval from the supervisor or department head. Some positions do not qualify for sponsorship. Information about approved positions and types of residency petitions which are commonly sponsored by the university are described on this page.

General University Requirements for Sponsorship

The university will not sponsor permanent residence for the following: 

  • Non-immigrants who are in temporary and/or part-time positions, such as postdoctoral scholars and visiting scientists, because these positions do not meet regulatory standards as required for permanent residence. 
  • Positions with a bachelor’s degree as the minimum requirement may require the assistance of an attorney and will be approved on a case-by-case basis.   

Working with Outside Attorneys

Per U K BUSINESS PROCEDURES E-1-6, the Office of Legal Counsel must approve all outside counsel prior to commencing legal work on behalf of the University of Kentucky.  Hiring departments and employees should consult with the director of ISSS to determine eligibility.  Please refer to the University Sponsorship Policy.

Once it has been established that the employee meets the criteria and university guidelines, hiring departments and/or employees may contact a pre-approved immigration attorney.  A list will be provided upon request.  ISSS is here to assist hiring officials in filing most types of permanent residency cases for teaching faculty.  However, a more lengthy or complex case may require the services of outside counsel. This must be decided in consultation with ISSS.

If you are unsure about which pathway to permanent residency is preferable, please contact the director of ISSS, Elizabeth Leibach.

Requiring Employer Sponsorship

I.    Members of the Professions Holding an Advanced Degree
This category is reserved for positions with a master’s degree or higher as the minimum requirement.  The university must file a permanent labor certification and show evidence of having conducted a search and recruitment process which meets or exceeds U.S. Department of Labor requirements.  For teaching positions there exists a more streamlined process (EB-2 Special Handling) which allows for the use of existing recruitment documentation.  However, for non-teaching staff and even some instructor positions UK will be required to conduct a new search and recruitment process (EB-2 Standard Recruitment). Obtaining this type of employment-based permanent residence consists of the following steps: 

  1. Recruitment for the position following U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines. 
  1. Application for Permanent Employment Certification (ETA-9089) filed with DOL. 
  1. Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140) and approved ETA-9089 filed with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). 
  1. Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (I-485) filed with USCIS. 

ISSS will be able to assist in filing the majority of cases for teaching positions (EB-2 Special Handling). In order to begin the process, departments should contact William Arnold or Elizabeth Leibach to schedule a meeting with both the supervisor and the employee.  The department and employee will be required to complete all forms and submit all documentation.  See attached Permanent Labor Certification packet.  For non-teaching positions, the services of an attorney may be required (EB-2 Standard Recruitment). If you have any questions about which category is the best option or pathway, please contact Elizabeth Leibach.  

II. Outstanding Professors and Researchers (EB-1b) 

This category is for faculty and researchers with at least three years of experience in the academic area who are recognized internationally as outstanding. There must be an offer of a tenured or tenure-track teaching, or a permanent research position. 

ISSS is able to assist in filing a small number of these petitions on behalf of university employees and departments each year.  If you have any questions about which category is the best option or pathway, please contact Elizabeth Leibach.  

To schedule a consultation to discuss your qualifications for either category, please call 859-323-2121 or send an email to to schedule an appointment with Elizabeth Leibach.