H-1B & PERM Manual

With Rice's globalization priorities, coupled with its historical ability to attract the best faculty, researchers and staff from anywhere, the numbers for processing employment visas for foreign nationals continue to increase. Department of Labor (DOL) laws constantly change, which necessitates continuous review of current compliance processes.

In this online manual, you will find the necessary steps for hiring a foreign national on the H-1B visa or with employer-sponsored Permanent Residency. It is important that all of the key participants in the process are notified in a timely manner, in order to ensure Rice's compliance responsibilities, as well as minimize delays in the visa process as much as possible.

You may contact Adria Baker (abaker@rice.edu) or Andy Meretoja (thm1@rice.edu) from the Office of International Students & Scholars or Diana Garcia (dmgarcia@rice.edu) from Human Resources for questions concerning Rice University's visa process.

H-1B

How Can the Procedures Manual Help When Filing an H-1B and PERM at Rice?

  1. Helps coordinate between the various offices and the employee, as there are multiple steps and timelines that need to be navigated.
  2. The Department of Labor (DOL) laws change frequently, which is particularly important to understand for PERM (university-sponsored permanent residency), obligating the employer to greatly increased compliance and mandatory financial responsibilities. The DOL updates their information, however, oftentimes the implementation varies.
  3. Maintains all compliance laws, in an effort not to lose our ability to sponsor any employee on an H-1B or university-sponsored PR (PERM).

Examples of compliance and financial issues that Rice must address are:

  1. The DOL laws which specify that the employer must pay all PERM-related costs; these costs cannot be paid or reimbursed by the employee to the employer.
  2. Strong procedures for the H-1B public audit file requirement.
  3. Clarification on procedures for the PERM audit file.
  4. Who on campus is responsible for what piece (and risks) of the H-1B and PR process? Processing takes a “winding path” between the employee, hiring department, attorney’s office, Human Resources, and the OISS. Processes change depending upon if the employee is:
    • Staff
    • Researcher, or
    • Faculty

AND applying for:

  • H-1B, or
  • Permanent Residency
    • Employer-sponsored
    • Individual-sponsored
Approved Law Firms

If a candidate wants the university to sponsor an application for H-1B or Permanent Residency, the university must approve the law firm that will process and file the application. Therefore, Rice University recommends these pre-approved firms:

NOTE: Utilization of firms that have not been pre-approved need to be cleared through the General Counsel’s Office.

H-1B Quick Facts

What is an H‐1B visa?

  • Temporary work visa for specialty occupations requiring a minimum of a bachelor’s degree
  • Valid for up to six years; approvals can be issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS) in increments of up to three years
  • Visa belongs to the employer (Rice) and is specific to the position, job duties, work location, and work schedule (full-time or part-time)
  • Salary to be paid must meet “prevailing wage” based on job duties and job location (geographic area where H-1B worker will be working)
  • Extension beyond six years may be possible if the individual is applying for permanent residency and has reached a specific status within the permanent residency application process, or if the individual has spent significant time abroad during the six years on H-1B visa
  • For corporate employers there is a quota limit on the number of H‐1B visas granted within a year; universities are exempt from this quota

H‐1B Program Requires

  • Prevailing wage determination,
  • Attestation to Department of Labor (through proof of good faith recruitment),
  • Maintenance of a Public Access File
  • And is subject to audit from the Department of Labor (DOL) and United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)

Responsible Office at Rice

For Postdoc positions, please work with OISS. For all other positions, please work with Human Resources. If you have questions regarding the individual’s eligibility for H-1B based on their immigration history, or any alternate visa options, OISS is happy to consult for non-postdoc positions as well.

Agency Involvement

  • Department of Labor (DOL) —governs wages, recruiting and compliance.
  • Foreign Labor Certification Data Center Online Wage Library —determines prevailing wage for the area of employment.
  • United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) —adjudicates temporary employment based petitions, collects data and issues immigration benefits.
  • U.S. Embassies—issues entry and travel visas.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—determines status eligibility at the U.S. port of entry.

Processing Time for Visa

  • Preparation for application – two to four weeks to gather information and complete all necessary forms. Requires information gathering from the individual as well as from the Rice department.
  • Application processing and review by government agencies – four to six months (if premium processing is requested and the additional cost of approximately $2,750 is paid, USCIS will make their decision within 15 business days).

When Must an H‐1B Visa be Amended?

The H‐1B visa is filed and approved based on a specific position, job duties, job schedule (full-time or part-time), salary and work location.

If there is a “material” change to any of these factors, an H‐1B amendment may be required. The department should be in contact with Diana Garcia Acero (dmgarcia@rice.edu) in the Rice Human Resources Office as soon as a change is being considered.

Examples of some “material” changes that require an amended H‐1B before an individual can make the change include:

  • Move from full-time to part-time status (or vice versa)
  • Change in actual job duties (not funding) or adding additional work duties (e.g. teaching a course if teaching was not part of the original H‐1B petition)
  • Changing geographical work location (e.g. working in a lab within the TMC)
  • Decrease in salary

Amendments can take 3 to 4 weeks to process and cost approximately the same as a regular H‐1B minus the $500 anti‐fraud fee.

Depending on the change, the employee cannot begin to work under the new hours, duties, salary or work location until the amended H‐1B visa petition (Form I‐129) has been received by USCIS.

When Can Employment Begin at Rice?

If the individual is in the U.S. but not currently working for Rice and this will be their first H‐1B visa (e.g. moving from F‐1 or J‐1 visa to H‐1B visa), they can begin employment when the Approval Notice is received by Rice from USCIS. (Under certain circumstances they may be eligible to begin employment while using their prior status, please contact OISS for more information.)

If the individual is in the U.S. but not currently working for Rice, and is coming to Rice directly from their previous employer where they had an H‐1B visa (this is known as “porting” the H‐1B to Rice), they can begin employment when USCIS receives the visa application and issues a Receipt Notice.

If the individual is currently a Rice employee and is moving from another work visa (e.g. J‐1, F‐1) to an H‐1B visa, they can begin employment when the Approval Notice is received by Rice from USCIS.(While the H-1B is pending, they may continue working until the end of previous work authorization through their existing J-1, F-1, etc. status.)

If the individual is currently working at Rice, has an H‐1B visa which is ending, and a visa extension is being requested, they can continue to work for Rice even after the current H‐1B expires for up to 240 days when USCIS receives the visa application and issues a Receipt Notice.

If the individual is not in the U.S., they can apply for an H-1B visa at a U.S. Consulate once the Approval Notice is received from USCIS. They can begin employment once they have received their visa and entered the U.S. and are within the validity dates listed on the Approval Notice (Canadian citizens are exempt from having to apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate, they may seek entry with just the Approval Notice.)

H-1B Cost/Fees

  • $500 - Anti-Fraud Fee (only required for initial H-1B, does not apply with H-1B extensions/amendments)
  • $460 - Filing Fee of I-129 to USCIS
  • $1,700 - $2,500 - Legal Fees (depends on complexity of case)
  • $175 - Admin Fees
  • Additional fees may be required if credential evaluations etc. are needed, if USCIS requests further evidence, etc.
  • Premium processing: $2,750 (includes filing fee + legal fee) if filed concurrently with H-1B petition (additional admin fee of $40 will be included, if premium processing added later)
  • If applicable, H-4 dependent fees: visa for spouse (approximately $1,000) and/or child(ren) (approximately $600)
  • $340 - Revocation Fees (includes filing fee + legal fee) if employment ends priori to H-1B validity end date

*Please note that all of the H-1B fees, with the possible exception of premium processing, should be paid by the employer. Stricter interpretation of cases and regulations by USCIS and DOL have resulted in fines and investigations when the employee is made to pay these H-1B costs.

Foster will invoice the Sponsoring Department directly for all expenses. Any delay in paying these invoices in a timely manner can delay the H-1B visa processing

For Postdoctoral Research positions, there is a fund that may help pay for legal fees. Please see the next section, University Funds for Postdoc H-1Bs at Rice, for more information.

University Funds for Postdoc H-1Bs at Rice

In order to keep up critical research through Postdoctoral Research positions, there is a fund to help pay for some of the H-1B legal fees. This fund is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, but co-administered through the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) and the General Counsel’s Office. Since the funds are limited, they are used on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as the funding is available.

Eligibility for Central Funds

In order to qualify for the Central Funds

  1. Both the Postdoc and the Sponsoring Department should have a commitment to the Postdoc staying at Rice on the H-1B status for at least 12 months. If the Postdoc does not complete one year of employment under the Rice H-1B sponsorship, the department will be responsible for reimbursing the H-1B fees on a prorated basis.
  2. The Postdoc must first exhaust their other reasonably available options for work authorization. This includes using the full five years of the J-1 status, or the full eligibility for OPT and STEM OPT for F-1 visa holders, as applicable.

If you have any questions regarding the eligibility criteria listed above, please contact Adria Baker (abaker@rice.edu) or Andy Meretoja (thm1@rice.edu).

What is covered by Central funds

The Central funds will, if approved, cover the following fees:

  • Anti-Fraud Fee
  • Filing Fee for the I-129
  • Standard admin fees of $175
  • Legal fees up to $2,000
  • Revocation fee at the end of employment, if applicable
  • Standard filing and legal fees for any H-4 petitions filed concurrently with the H-1B petition

What is not covered by Central funds

The Sponsoring Department is responsible for the following fees:

  • Premium processing fees (may also be paid by the employee)
  • Legal fees exceeding $2,000 (if required due to the complexity of the case)
  • Legal and Admin fees in case USCIS issues a Request for Further Evidence (RFE)
  • Additional fees if credential evaluation or other additional services are required

Exceptions for Payment:

Any legal funds exceptions must be approved through a petition process and requested in writing by sponsoring department. These requests may be addressed to Adria Baker (abaker@rice.edu).

Procedures for Establishing, Extending, or Amending an H-1B at Rice

Initiating the H-1B Visa Process

  1. Employee requires work authorization sponsorship.
  2. Sponsoring department consults with the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) to ensure that the H-1B visa is the appropriate visa option and that the individual meets criteria.
  3. If the department is sponsoring a Postdoc, OISS determines whether University funds are available to pay for the H-1B fees. If not, the department will be responsible to pay fees/costs.
  4. Sponsoring department initiates "HR/OISS - H-1B Initiation" form, available via Adobe Sign under Workflows.
    • Must attach the beneficiary's (employee) resume or CV and job description
  5. Sponsoring department initiates the “Export Controls Certification Compliance Form” via Adobe Sign. The form is available as a Workflow under the name "SPARC - Export Controls Certification Compliance. Any questions that arise in regards to filling out the form should be directed to the Office of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance (exportcontrols@rice.edu).
  6. Office of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance will review/approve the form and send it to Human Resources, as it is important to do so because the form attests to Part 6 of the I-129 form.

Preparing Documentation to Support Labor Condition Application (LCA)

  • When the immigration attorney's office receives the initiation form, the attorney's office will send the employee an email to complete an employee information sheet and document checklist.
  • As the information is being gathered by the employee, the immigration attorney's office will obtain the prevailing wage for the position. If the prevailing wage is higher than offered salary, the sponsoring department will need to agree to pay the prevailing wage before proceeding with H-1B sponsorship.
  • The attorney's office will prepare and send the Labor Condition Application (LCA) along with the Notice of Filing of LCA to Human Resources for review..
  • Upon HR review/approval, the Notice of Filing of LCA is posted in the electronic bulleting board located in the HR website for 10 business days.
  • HR will notify the immigration attorney's office immediately after the Notice of Filing of LCA is posted so LCA can be submitted to DOL.
  • HR is required to compile a Public Access File for the beneficiary. It is required that the Public Access File be initiated within 24 hours after Notice of Filing of LCA is posted.
  • Included in Public Access File:
    • LCA Cover Pages
    • Initiated LCA (replaced by Certified LCA when available)
    • Wage rate, which is included in LCA
    • Description of Actual Wage System
    • Copy of prevailing wage and its source
    • Notices of Filing of LCA – when 10 day posting period is completed
    • Summary of benefits

Labor Condition Application Submitted to Department of Labor through iCert

  1. Once the immigration attorney’s office receives the notification from HR, they proceed to certify the LCA electronically through the Dept. of Labor’s iCert program. According to DOL regulations it may take 7-10 business days for an official decision to be made about the LCA.
  2. Filing the LCA is attesting to the following:
    1. The H-1B employee will be paid offered wage or the prevailing wage, whichever is higher
    2. The employment of the H-1B individual will not adversely affect the working conditions for other workers similarly employed
    3. At the time of filing the LCA there are no layoffs, strikes, lockouts or work stoppages in the H-1B individual’s occupation
    4. A copy of the LCA was posted for 10 business days in two places on the employer’s premises or on an electronic bulletin board

Labor Condition Application is Certified

  • Once the LCA is certified, immigration attorney’s office will send it to HR along with the H-1B petition packet.
    • A certified copy is placed in Public Access File and
    • A certified copy if given to employee along with Acknowledgement of Receipt of LCA. It is required to give a signed hardcopy to employee no later than the 1st day of employment. The employee must also sign Receipt and return it to HR as record that LCA was provided.
  • HR will remove the LCA posting notices at appropriate time, sign the notices and add them to Public Access File.

H-1B Petition Packet

  • The immigration attorney's office will finalize the H-1B petition packet and proceed to send it to HR for signatory review and signatures. **Human Resources will hold off on sending the packet back to the immigration attorney's office if the "Export Controls Certification Compliance Form" has not been received. This will delay the processing time it takes to get the H-1B for the employee**
  • HR will review, approve and return signed H-1B petition packet to attorney's office for filing with USCIS. Packet includes:
    • G-28 - Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney
    • I-129 - Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
    • I-129 - H Supplement
    • I-129 - Data Collection Sheet
    • Support Letter
    • Certified Labor Condition Application (LCA)
    • I-907 - Request for Premium Processing service (if requested)
  • Once the immigration attorney's office receives the packet from HR, they will review/sign it before sending it to USCIS. All fees must be paid and all information gathered by the employee in order to send the packet.

Approval Notice & Final Steps

  • The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will issue a receipt notice to the employer upon receipt. (If H-1B is portable, the Federal Form I-9 can be completed at this time and employment can begin. If H-1B is being extended, the receipt notice extends work authorization for 240 days past the expiration date and the Federal Form I-9 will need to be updated.)
  • The Approval notice (I-797) is received in about 4-6 months or 4-5 weeks if the H-1B was premium processed. The attorney’s office will receive the H-1B approval notice and sends it to HR. HR will get in contact with employee/department to inform them that the approval notice is ready and can be picked up in the HR office. (If this is the initial H-1B for this person, the Federal Form I-9 can be completed at this time and employment can begin.)
  • The employee is responsible to update appropriate records with new visa status (e.g. I-9 Forms, tax status, immigration database, etc.) with HR, Payroll and OISS.
H-1B Request Form

The H-1B request form is available in Adobe Sign under Workflows. It is titled "HR/OISS - H-1B Initiation"

Termination of Employment Prior to the H-1B Visa End Date

If an employee working under an H-1B Visa ends employment either voluntarily or involuntarily prior to their H-1B Visa end date, the university must work with the immigration attorney to revoke the current H-1B effective with the employment termination date. It is important to do this in order to terminate Rice’s payment obligations to the employee. Per Department of Labor regulations, payment obligation continues for the entire period listed on the H-1B “Labor of Condition Application” (LCA), even if there is insufficient work for the employee. The method to end this obligation to pay is to revoke the current H-1B at the time the employee ends employment with Rice University.

For all H-1B employees, the following steps should be followed:

  1. On the termination form, the department should indicate, by checking the appropriate box on the form, that the terminating employee is a current H-1B visa holder.
  2. Human Resources will then contact the immigration attorney's office and notify them of the early ending date and the need to revoke the H-1B visa. The fee (approx. $340) for revoking the H-1B visa will be paid for by the department for faculty and regular staff, and the university funds for the postdocs (if university funds were approved when the H-1B was initiated).

Important Note: For employees who are given involuntary departure from their employment at Rice, the department is required to offer to pay for "reasonable return transportation" to the employee's place of residence abroad. This offer, as well as the employee's response, should be documented in writing.

Who are the Rice Key Contacts for H-1B Processing?

Human Resources - 713-348-2514
Angela Lipari - alipari@rice.edu
Diana Garcia Acero - dmgarcia@rice.edu
Ally Slaughter - ally.slaughter@rice.edu

Office of International Students & Scholars - 713-348-6095
Adria Baker - abaker@rice.edu
Andy Meretoja - thm1@rice.edu

PERM

Permanent Residency Fact Sheet

Permanent residency (PR) may be obtained in various ways – family sponsorship, political asylum, diversity lottery or employment based. Employment based (EB) permanent residency is divided into the following categories:

  • EB 1 for “Extraordinary or Outstanding Workers"
  • EB 2 for “Advanced Degreed Workers”
  • EB 3 for “Professional and Skilled Workers”

PERM is a labor certification process and is required for EB 2 & EB 3 categories. In essence these are university sponsored green cards.

PERM is a permanent labor certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) which allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States. For EB2 and EB3 cases, before the U.S. employer can submit an immigration petition to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the employer must obtain an approved labor certification request (PERM) from the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA).

The DOL must certify to the USCIS that there are not qualified U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job at the prevailing wage for that occupation in the area of intended employment, and that employment of the alien will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The job description cannot be tailored to the individual.

PERMs are filed electronically for quicker turn-around. Electronic filing requires one contact person for Rice to approve the forms. For Rice University, the single contact person is the Director of Talent Acquisition and Compensation in the Human Resources Office.

PERM requires

  • Employer sponsorship for a specific position
  • Prevailing wage determination
  • Attestation to Department of Labor (through proof of good faith recruitment)
  • Maintenance of a compliance file (five year retention period per case)
  • And is subject to audit from the DOL

Changes to PERM regulations effective July 16, 2007

  • Legal fees and recruitment costs associated with PERM must be paid by employer (Rice); foreign workers are prohibited from paying fees/costs associated with PERM.
  • Enhanced penalties from DOL for violations of Labor Certification regulations

Costs/Fees (for Universities)

  • Employer must pay for all PERM legal fees and expenses, approximately $7,000
  • Estimated total costs are $9,000 to $12,000 including the PERM fees/expenses
  • Processing time is variable based on the employment category

Agency Involvement

  • Department of Labor (DOL)
  • Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)
  • U.S. Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – determines status eligibility at the U.S. port of entry
Impact on Faculty Recruitment

In order to maintain university compliance, all faculty hires must follow advertising requirements, and other considerations, when conducting any faculty search.

I. Advertising Requirements for All Faculty Searches

In addition to any current hiring requirements, place at least one print ad in a national professional journal. The print ad must include: 1) the job title of the position for which you are searching; 2) job duties; 3) minimum education required; 4) experience required; and 5) contact information for interested applicants that includes the name of the department and the university.

II. Other Considerations When an Offer is Made to a Foreign National

Applications for university-sponsored Permanent Residency (PR) must be filed within 18 months of the decision to make an offer to (not the hiring of) the candidate. Since filings take at least three months to prepare, the absolute deadline for initiating the PR application is therefore 15 months from the decision to extend a job offer. If a search yields an offer to a foreign national, the chair or dean should inform the candidate of this at the time of the informal offer if they might want university assistance in applying for permanent residency.

NOTE: Please be sure to follow the “Approved Law Firm Instructions” in this manual.

III. When Faculty Member wants to apply for Permanent Residency

The default process for a faculty member will be PERM Special Handling. The sponsoring department is responsible to pay the associated PERM fees and must provide supporting documentation as requested by the immigration law firm. If the faculty member wishes to pursue another process, a consultation with an immigration lawyer will help to determine if there's a stronger case for Extraordinary or Outstanding Worker, and the sponsoring department may be responsible to pay for associated fees and must provide supporting documentation as requested by the immigration law firm.

Procedures for Permanent Residency (PR) & PERM (Labor Certification / University-Sponsored PR) for Faculty

General Process of Hiring (International/Current) Faculty

  • Department secures approval for hiring search (in the usual manner).
  • Hiring department ensures recruitment meets minimum standards that can be used later for a PR application (using PERM special handling) should an international be hired.
  • In addition to any current hiring requirements, the standards include:
    • Placing at least one advertisement in a recognized national, professional journal related to the field of scholarship. May be in print or online.
    • If placed online, the advertisement must be posted for a minimum of 30 days, must be viewable to the public without payment of subscription and/or membership charges, and documentation must include evidence of the start and end dates of the advertisement placement and the text of the advertisement.
    • The Print ad must include: 1) Job Title, 2) Job Duties, 3) Minimum Education required, 4) Experience required (if any), 5) Name of the University and that the location is in Houston, Texas, and 6) Contact Information.
  • Department Chair initiates paperwork, approvals, details, recommendations for appointment, PA form, etc.
  • Dean’s office requests permission from the Provost to make informal offer, writes Dean’s memo of approval to departmental chair, PA form signed.
  • Paperwork sent to the Affirmative Action Office.
  • With approval from Provost, informal offer letter sent to candidate. Returned offer signed by candidate sent to Provost. President sent official offer letter.
  • Department sends forms to Dean’s office for review and approval.

Faculty Requesting PR

  • (For new faculty) Faculty member requests PR processing based on PERM Special Handling within 15 months of the date of selection or sooner. PERM must be filed no later than 18 months after the date of selection and at least 3 months is required to prepare the application for filing.
  • OISS is informed of permanent residency request and advises department or visitor, as necessary.
  • The default process for a faculty member will be PERM Special Handling. The sponsoring department is responsible to pay the associated PERM fees and must provide supporting documentation as requested by the immigration law firm. If the faculty member wishes to pursue another process, a consultation with an immigration lawyer will help to determine if there's a stronger case for Extraordinary or Outstanding Worker, and the sponsoring department may be responsible to pay the associated fees and must provide supporting documentation as requested by the immigration law firm. Utilization of firms that have not been pre-approved must to be cleared through the General Counsel’s office.

Pre-PERM Process

  • Sponsoring department will initiate the PR Approval Form via Adobe Sign (coming soon!). Chair & Dean/VP agree to sponsor and commit to paying fees associated with PERM application from departmental funds as stipulated by law and provide supporting documentation.
  • The immigration attorney's office sends the employee questionnaire to the employee.
  • Attorney receives completed questionnaire from faculty member.
  • Attorney’s Office will also:
    • Prepare draft of ETA 9089 based on questionnaires and send it to hiring department for approval. Director of Recruitment is included in email communication to compare job description in Posting Notice.
    • Prepare Posting Notice and send it to Human Resources for Posting.
    • Prepare support letter and description of recruitment to department for review and signature.
  • Human Resources will post Posting Notice for 10 business days in the Human Resources office; after the posting period is done, the Director of Recruitment will sign the Posting Notice and send it back to Attorney’s office.
  • Copy of all previously completed documentation is sent to the Manager of Faculty Affairs in the Office of the Provost to go in faculty file.
  • When all legal requirements are complete, the immigration attorney’s office will submit the completed PERM Labor Certification (ETA 9089) to DOL electronically.

PERM Cert

  • If the PERM certification is not approved, hiring department and faculty member meets with OISS and attorney’s office to discuss other visa options.
  • If the PERM certification is approved, DOL sends email alert to Director of Recruitment to confirm that Rice is sponsoring this employee, so as to continue the process. ETA 9089 is “certified” (stamped) and returned to the attorney’s office.
  • If there are Visas Available:
    • If visa available in employee’s category, meaning priority date is current and there is no backlog, the attorney’s office prepares the I-140 form (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) and the I-485 form [(Adjustment of Status) employee & family] for concurrent filing. The I-140 is sent to Human Resources and the I-485 is sent to the employee.
    • HR reviews, approves and returns I-140 to immigration attorney’s office.
    • Employee reviews, approves and returns I-485 to immigration attorney’s office.
    • Immigration attorney’s office will send the I-140 and the I-485 to United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) along with certified ETA Form 9089.
    • Employee awaits Permanent Resident (PR) card.
  • If there are no Visas Available:
    • If no visa is available in employee’s category, meaning priority date is not current, backlog exists and visa bulletin is showing unavailable, then the attorney’s office only prepares the I-140 form (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) and sends it Human Resources for review and approval.
    • HR will review and approve and send it back to immigration attorney’s office, which will proceed to file it with USCIS.
    • Employee and Immigration Attorney’s office will check on visa bulletin on a monthly basis until date is current.
    • Once priority date becomes current, immigration attorney’s office will prepare the I-485 and send it to the employee for review and approval. Once returned the I-485 is filed and sent to USCIS along with the Certified ETA 9089 form.
    • Employee awaits approval of I-485 and of Permanent Resident (PR) card. Length of wait depends on future movement of visa bulletin and USCIS’s processing time.

Permanent Residency Receipt

  • Upon receipt of PR card, employee must visit Human Resources Office to complete a new I-9 Work Authorization form.
  • Employee must also visit the Payroll Office and present their PR card in order to gain U.S. tax status.
  • If faculty member is not new to Rice, and is changing from a non-immigrant visa status, they must bring proof of PR to OISS so as to update nonimmigrant record.
Procedures for Permanent Residency (PR) & PERM (Labor Certification / University-Sponsored PR) for Staff

Requesting Employment Based Permanent Residency

  • Staff member requests sponsorship for permanent residency as soon as sponsorship need is known. An applicant might raise this issue during the hiring process; however, hiring manager/interviewers should NOT raise this question with applicants as this is not an appropriate question during the pre-hire period.
  • Department contacts a pre-approved law firm (copies Director of Recruitment) and discusses job and whether it is a job that can support PERM labor certification. Utilization of law firms that have not been pre-approved need to be cleared through the General Counsel’s Office.
  • Department & Dean/VP agrees to sponsor and commit to paying the fees associated with the PERM application as stipulated by law (20 CFR Part 656, DOL) from departmental funds. Any other financial commitments over and above the required fees are decided upon and noted in a written and signed memorandum which will be held within the department.
  • Department notifies HR of decision to sponsor employee for employment based permanent residency by completing the “Employer-Sponsored Permanent Residency for Staff Approval Form.” Form must be signed by department chair and sent to Director of Recruitment in Human Resources.

Pre- PERM Process

  • Attorney contacts the employee to discuss details of the permanent residency process.
  • Attorney sends employer questionnaire to Human Resources (Director of Recruitment) who will then forward the questionnaire to the sponsoring department for completion; once completed and approved by department chair/head it is sent to HR (Director of Recruitment) for approval along with copy of current job description. HR will review/approve and return to attorney’s office.
  • Simultaneously, attorney sends employee questionnaire to employee for completion.
  • Based on questionnaires, attorney completes and sends a draft of the Pre-Approval sheet for review to Human Resources (Director of Recruitment). This information provides basis for job posting and recruitment advertisements and establishes for DOL the basis of the job. HR will forward to department for their review and signature of department chair/head.
  • Department forwards form to HR for final review and approval. Form is then returned to attorney’s office to initiate PERM labor certification process.
  • Attorney’s office requests and receives prevailing wage information (based on info submitted in job description/posting details) from the Texas WorkSource.

PERM CERT (Testing of Labor Market)

  • Job is posted on RICEWorks for required period of time by the HR Recruiter; outside advertisements are placed by attorney’s office.
  • Immigration attorney’s office emails paper posting notice to HR; HR will post for 10 business days. After the posting period is done, the posting is removed and signed by Director of Recruitment.
  • Applications are received and forwarded to sponsoring department by the HR Recruiter via RICEWorks.
  • Sponsoring department completes the interview process [interviews all applicants that have met minimum requirements, compiles all required search documentation (interviewing summaries, applicant log summary, etc.) and sends to HR for approval].
  • HR reviews/approves and sends recruitment documentation to attorney’s office along with Posting Notice and Notice of Posting Verification Letter. Also included is a letter from HR attesting to financial support and offer of full time, regular employment for the individual being sponsored; and the completed ETA 9089 (Alien Employment Certification) form. At this time, HR will document the posting/requisition in RICEWorks as a PERM CERT labor testing situation and will cancel the posting.
  • Law firm submits the completed PERM Labor Certification packet (recruitment documents, applicant summary, ETA 9089, support letter, posting verification letter) to DOL for review.
  • HR (Director of Recruitment) will receive and respond to DOL PERM confirmation email regarding the university’s sponsorship of the employee.

Permanent Residency Processing

  • If the PERM is approved, the ETA 9089 Form is “certified” (stamped) and returned to the attorney’s office.
  • If there are Visas Available:
    • If visa available in employee’s category, meaning priority date is current and there is no backlog, the attorney’s office prepares the I-140 form (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) and the I-485 form [(Adjustment of Status) employee & family] for concurrent filing. The I-140 is sent to Human Resources and the I-485 is sent to the employee.
    • HR reviews, approves and returns I-140 to immigration attorney’s office.
    • Employee reviews, approves and returns I-485 to immigration attorney’s office.
    • Immigration attorney’s office will send the I-140 and the I-485 to United States Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS) along with certified ETA Form 9089.
    • Employee awaits Permanent Resident (PR) card.
  • If there are no Visas Available:
    • If no visa is available in employee’s category, meaning priority date is not current, backlog exists and visa bulletin is showing unavailable, then the attorney’s office only prepares the I-140 form (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) and sends it Human Resources for review and approval.
    • HR will review and approve and send it back to immigration attorney’s office, which will proceed to file it with USCIS.
    • Employee and Immigration Attorney’s office will check on visa bulletin on a monthly basis until date is current.
    • Once priority date becomes current, immigration attorney’s office will prepare the I-485 and send it to the employee for review and approval. Once returned the I-485 is filed and sent to USCIS along with the Certified ETA 9089 form.
    • Employee awaits approval of I-485 and of Permanent Resident (PR) card. Length of wait depends on future movement of visa bulletin and USCIS’s processing time.

Permanent Residency Receipt

  • Upon receipt of PR card, employee must visit Human Resources Office to complete a new I-9 Work Authorization form.
  • Employee must also visit the Payroll Office and present their PR card in order to gain U.S. tax status.

FAQs

H-1B/PERM Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Acronyms & Abbreviations
    PERM - Program Electronic Review Management process
    LCA – Labor Condition Application
    PR – Permanent Residency
    H-1B – Non-immigrant Visa for Specialty (Professional) Workers
    I-9 – Employment Eligibility Verification form
    DOL – Department of Labor
    DHS – Department of Homeland Security
    USCIS – United States Citizenship & Immigration Services
    TWC – Texas Workforce Commission
    HR – Human Resources
    OISS – Office of International Students & Scholars
  2. Is PERM and Permanent Residency the same thing?
    No. PERM is part of the process for applying for Permanent Residency based on employer sponsorship. Permanent Residency is an immigration status and it may be achieved through different means (family-based, employer sponsorship, self-sponsorship, etc).
  3. Can departments have employees pay back the university for PERM processing if they do not stay a specific length of time?
    No. The PERM costs, that the employer is responsible for, can only be paid for by the employer.
  4. Can the department ask the applicant to indirectly pay the cost of filing?
    No. Rice must incur the costs for advertisement, recruitment, filing, and legal fees.
  5. What is the cost of processing an H-1B?
    Approximately $5,000 (including premium processing). The immigration attorney's current recommendation is that the employer pays for the entire H-1B cost, with the exception of premium processing, which may be paid for by the employee.
  6. Does the department have to pay the H-1B $500 anti-fraud fee per filing?
    No. It is only required for the initial H-1B. It is not required when extending or ameding an H-1B.
  7. If departments are responsible for the costs involved with processing H-1Bs and PERM permanent residency applications, where are those funds supposed to come from?
    It is advisable to speak with your Dean’s office about funding for H-1B and PERM applications, as departments will need to build these funds into their budgets.
  8. How would I know if the applicant needs an H-1B sponsorship?
    After recruitment, interviews, and near selection you would be able determine if the applicant would need H-1B sponsorship. Also, keep in mind that there is a question on RiceWorks application that indicates if an applicant needs sponsorship.
  9. When does the H-1B or PERM processing start?
    The process for an H-1B or PERM may start after an offer has been made, however the department should already be talking to OISS about the different visa options when considering the hiring of foreign nationals.
  10. How long does the H-1B process take?
    New H-1B visa processing can take 5 – 7 months for processing (3 – 5 weeks, if premium processing is used). A current H-1B visa holder at a different employer may be able to use the “H-1B visa portability” to begin working at Rice very quickly – this process only takes about 2 – 4 weeks.
  11. When do you change to Permanent Residency while on an H-1B visa?
    An individual may begin the Permanent Residency process at any time while on an H-1B visa, however it is strongly recommended that the different Permanent Residency options be examined by the 4th or 5th year on H-1B at the latest.
  12. How long do you have to be on the H-1B visa in order to begin the PERM process?
    Merely one day; since H-1B has dual immigrant intent.
  13. When processing PERM, do I have to hire a more qualified candidate if one is found during the labor market testing?
    No. The new candidate does not have to be hired in place of the current employee. However, the current employee’s PERM process must stop, as it would no longer meet the requirements of PERM. Other visa options and permanent residency options would have to be pursued instead.
  14. During PERM, can an employee continue to work prior to the Permanent Residency (“green card”) approval?
    Yes. Discussions with the attorney will determine the best way to continue work eligibility during the Permanent Residency process.
  15. Is an employee of Rice University eligible to keep their Permanent Resident status if they should leave Rice?
    Yes. Their PR status is not restricted to their employment at Rice.
  16. How long does the PERM and Permanent Residency process take?
    The time is variable depending on the type of employment and the employment based category of the application. The immigration attorney can advise on the specifics of each case, but the process can take from 2 to 6+ years.
  17. What is the visa of choice prior to applying for PERM?
    H-1B is usually the visa of choice, because it provides the dual intent options.
  18. Is there any way to expedite the PERM process?
    No. Premium processing is only an option for the H-1B visa applicants.
  19. Will the job description posting notices be mailed to Human Resources?
    Yes. According to the process, HR will receive the approved description and in turn post the position in two different locations.

Frequently Asked Questions when Hiring a Foreign National as a Rice Faculty Member

  1. If our final candidate is a foreign national, what should we do first?
    Consult with the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) to discuss options for visa sponsorship and permanent residency applications.
  2. Can I ask a faculty candidate if they will need visa or permanent residency sponsorship?
    Yes, you can. You cannot ask any candidate what their citizenship status is or what their home country is. You can ask if they are legally authorized to work in the U.S. and if they will need current or future sponsorship for visa status or permanent residency.
  3. How much does it cost to sponsor a faculty member for permanent residency?
    This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on which permanent residency application process the faculty member pursues. Total costs for employer sponsored permanent residency for the faculty member (and not dependents) can range from approximately $8,500 to $12,000. The part that must be paid for by Rice depends again on which process is chosen but can range anywhere from $0 to $7,000. Please note that oftentimes it is difficult for foreign faculty to get permanent residency right away. Most commonly they have an H-1B and then transfer into permanent residency. This could increase the total visa cost by $2,500 - $5,000.
  4. What are the university resources for visa related expenses, i.e., start-up funds, and/or discretionary research funds?
    Some schools at Rice have very clear guidelines, and others address this issue on a case-by-case basis. Please consult your school dean and/or department chair. In general, new faculty members are allowed reimbursement for their part of the costs from their own start-up funds. G and D funds may be used, but R fund usage is dependent upon the sponsor’s policy.
  5. How can we avoid misunderstandings and disputes after the candidate is hired about visa-related expenses?
    These matters should be thoroughly discussed with the department chair, and should be spelled out in the dean’s informal offer letter. There is one exception to this: arrangements regarding trailing spouses and families should be discussed, but not be part of the offer letter.
  6. How soon should we begin the permanent residency application for a foreign national faculty hire?
    The permanent residency application process and amount of time left on the faculty member's current visa will impact how quickly the process should be initiated. However, the discussion regarding options for permanent residency should begin immediately after the offer has been accepted. This is true because one of the "surest" paths to permanent residency (PERM Special Handling) for new faculty members requires that the application be filed within 18 months of the final offer letter. If the PERM Special Handling application process is chosen, work on the case must begin immediately.
  7. Is there any additional special guidance about the PERM process that we should be aware of?
    For faculty PERM process, here are the main things in regard to timing:
    -- an ad has to be placed in a recognized, national, professional journal and if the ad is online it must stay posted for a minimum of 30 days.
    -- if a foreign national that needs PR sponsorship through faculty PERM (aka PERM Special Handling) is hired, the PERM application has to be submitted to DOL within 18 months of the date of the final offer letter (defined at Rice as the president's offer letter). Rice’s rule of thumb is to try to get all the work done within 15 months of the offer letter to allow for filing times and other unexpected issues.
    -- keep copies of all ads, job offer letters, CVs of applicants, reasons for not selecting candidates, etc.
  8. May I see sample examples of advertisements (or general “boiler-plate" language we can use for our Assistant Professor job postings)?
    We recommend you consult your Dean’s office, as they should have examples for your school.
  9. Can I ask a non-permanent resident candidate about their spouse or dependents needing immigration assistance? What if the candidate brings up the subject during the interview process?
    No. You are not allowed to ask anything about their families or even marital status. Keep the interview just about the candidate and the position. If they bring up the subject, refer them to your department chair for that discussion.
  10. (For Department Chairs) When negotiating with the top candidate, what guidelines does the university have to support visa-related costs?
    There is no centralized policy. You are encouraged to check with your school’s deans office, as many have general guidelines and practices. However, just as salary is negotiated, visa-related costs are usually handled on an individual basis. There are many variables that affect the proper visa type for each individual hire, OISS can assist in discussing with you and the new faculty hire what might be the most appropriate visa status options.
  11. Which visa status is used for foreign faculty hires?
    There are a few common visa types: H-1B, O-1 and permanent residency (“green card”). However, each case is different, and especially if someone is already on a non-immigrant visa status in the U.S. Transitioning into one of these visa types takes special care, when moving from one non-immigrant visa type to another. You are encouraged to contact OISS to discuss this. If you are bringing your new faculty hire directly from abroad, the most common visa track would be to come on an H-1B and then apply for permanent residency via the labor certification (PERM) process.
  12. How long does it take to get permanent residency?
    The permanent residence petition process time is highly variable depending on country of origin, petition type, and possibility of audit. In addition, many individuals will choose to stay on their current visa (H-1B, O-1, etc.) and not begin the permanent residency process immediately.
  13. Can the international hire just get permanent residency first, without having to go through the costs and laborious process of an H-1B?
    Usually, given the time it takes to apply for permanent residency, it is difficult to get permanent residency directly, without being on an H-1B first.