It is possible for the University to obtain permanent residency for a teaching faculty under the Special Handling labor certification process. This is essentially a determination and certification by the Secretary of Labor that there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, or equally qualified to do the work needed, and the employment of aliens will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of the workers in the U.S. similarly employed.

We can obtain labor certification for a prospective teaching faculty member if we can demonstrate that the alien is better qualified than any U.S. citizen or permanent resident applicant for the position. The position must be advertised, prevailing wages and working conditions must be offered, and qualified U.S. workers must be given an opportunity to know about and to apply for the position. The application for labor certification for a teaching faculty member must be filed within 18 months of the selection of the alien "pursuant to a competitive recruitment and selection process" (or 18 months from the letter of offer).

Labor Certification (Special Handling) will involve 3 steps

  1. Application for labor certification for teaching faculty only if they are chosen as the best qualified available candidate after an academic search process and selected for permanent tenure track position.
  2. Upon certification, the University will file on form I-140 for an immigrant visa to be made available to the international hire (the beneficiary).
  3. Once the I-140 is approved, the international hire will then file for a green card on form I-485. This step can be done concurrently with step 2, please consult ISSS on the pros and cons of concurrent filing.


Departments must submit documentation of their recruitment efforts. Advertisements must have the following:

  • Job Title,
  • Duties, and
  • Minimum Requirements for the position.

Do not list preferences; these are seen as requirements.

At least one of the advertisements must be in a national professional journal and at least one of the advertisement must be in a PRINT format (newspaper, paper journal). 

Documents needed for Special Handling Labor Certification

When the selection process has been completed, an academic department should submit to International Student and Scholar Services the following documents:

  1. Documentation (a single copy) supporting the alien applicant's claims to education, training, and experience. Usually a copy of the applicant's highest degree, curriculum vita, list of publications, and letters of recommendation from department files will be adequate to document these claims. Any documents in a language other than English (including Latin) must be accompanied by a translation certified by the translator as to the accuracy of the translation and his/her ability to translate. A signed statement as follows is sufficient for this purpose: "I am familiar with the English and the _____ languages and I certify that this is a true and complete translation of the _____ (type of document)." Photocopies of documents such as diplomas are acceptable. Don't send the original documents.
  2. A statement signed by the department chair "outlining in detail the complete recruitment procedure" and providing the following specific information:
    1. "the total number of applicants for the job opportunity";
    2. "the specific lawful job-related reasons why the alien is more qualified than each U.S. worker who applied for the job"; and
    3. "a written statement attesting to the degree of the alien's educational or professional qualifications and academic achievements."
  3. A report of the selection committee which made the recommendation or selection of the alien for the position. This need not be the final report of the committee if such a report contains confidential information or is otherwise unsuitable for public disclosure. A final report can be a special and brief report signed by the chair of the selection committee notifying the department chair of the decision and recommendation of the committee. Departments can also choose to use the Documentation Chart of Selection Committee Work for Labor Certification to fulfill this documentation requirement.
  4. A copy of the advertisement(s) placed in professional journals for the position. This should be a photocopy of the page from the journal and a photocopy of the cover of that issue to identify the journal and the issue.
  5. Information about and documentation of any other recruitment efforts undertaken, including copies of letters sent to other institutions or professional colleagues, postings on electronic bulletin boards, or any other attempts to locate suitable applicants for the position. We must demonstrate that the University has made a good faith effort to locate qualified U.S. workers for the position, so documentation of all recruitment efforts is important. Be sure that the same advertisement is placed in every venue 
  6. A copy of the contract between the University and the prospective faculty member.
  7. A copy of a notice that must be posted in two conspicuous places in the hiring department for ten business days. ISSS will supply this form, properly completed, to the appropriate department for posting. If any in-house media was used to advertise the position, the notice must also be placed for 10 business days in the same in-house media, whether electronic or paper.

Once we have all the documentation, we will submit an application for labor certification to the Department of Labor's Certifying Officer. The Certifying Officer makes the decision and notifies us. 

Procedures Following Labor Certification

Once the Department of Labor has approved the application for labor certification, the University can petition the US Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of the alien. This is done by filing a Form I-140 with the approval of the labor certification, appropriate supporting documentation and a check for $580 made payable to the "US Department of Homeland Security". This part of the process is called a second preference petition. The word "second" refers to the organizational scheme of the Immigration and Naturalization Act; it is not a lesser kind of green card. All green cards are the same, all confer the same benefits. Only the paths to those green cards are different.

We reiterate the caution to scholars and departments that the scholar must have been awarded his or her degree (if it is a requirement for the position) before the University can file the I-140. The University often hires individuals who have completed all the requirements for their Ph.D. degree except for submission of their dissertation. The completion of the dissertation is sometimes shuffled to the back of the scholar's priorities during his or her first year of teaching or research. Time passes and the degree isn't awarded as promptly as everyone might have wished. While the department may allow the scholar some leeway in this regard, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services is not so open-minded. The time limit for filing for teaching positions is l8 months from the date of offer; for non-teaching positions the limit is 6 months from the date of offer.

The approval by the USCIS of the I-140 is currently taking up to a year. This varies depending on the work load at the USCIS Northern Service Center. Please consult ISSS for tracking information. Please note that ISSS does not track these petitions for the department or the scholar since tracking information is available to the public on the USCIS website.