Policy on Permanent Residence Sponsorship
Permanent residence status applications for eligible foreign national employees in academic positions are initiated by a specific school or college of The Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech). It is, therefore, a college or school’s decision and not the decision of an individual employee to proceed with sponsorship. The sponsorship of each foreign national employee must be approved by the department head (or director), the dean of the sponsoring department, and the Senior Vice President for Academics & Provost. In addition, the Senior Vice President for Academics & Provost of Florida Tech is the sole authorized official to sign any documentation required for filing applications for permanent residence. The staff of the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will act as a clearinghouse to review all applications and documents prior to recommending them for an official signature.
Florida Tech sponsorship decisions are based solely upon an institution’s need for an outstanding candidate’s expertise and exceptional ability in teaching/research. Sponsorship refers to the lending of support to an application via a long-term, full-time job offer. The university may choose to sponsor or support an application by signing certain immigration documents verifying that it is offering an individual a permanent position. An offer of a permanent position refers to an offer of a long-term position (not temporary) but does not constitute a guarantee of lifetime employment. Permanent residence is contingent upon a full-time, long-term employment relationship, providing that an employee is (1) eligible for sponsorship and that (2) the U.S. Department of Labor and Citizenship and Immigration criteria can be satisfied. Florida Tech can only pursue permanent residence sponsorship for individuals whose particular immigration status, visa history, and situation would not preclude it.
Phase I: The Academic Department
The sponsoring department head must submit a formal request to the dean. This official letter should include the following: (1) a rationale for the request, (2) evidence of department funding for three years, (3) the credentials of the individual (4) statement describing the individual’s special abilities and expertise, and (5) expectation of a minimum three year commitment to the university by the applicant.
Phase II: The Dean of the College or School
The dean will respond in writing to the sponsoring department’s request with a copy to ISSS.
Phase III: Foreign National/Employee Requirement
1. Commitment Letter. The applicant must submit a Commitment Letter to his/her sponsoring department with a copy to ISSS. The letter should state that the foreign national commits to continue academic employment at Florida Tech for a minimum of three years.
2. Meet with ISSS. After the dean has approved the request, the foreign national applicant should schedule an appointment with the Director of ISSS before outside legal counsel is retained. ISSS will review the application with the foreign national and give the foreign national a list of approved immigration attorneys. The applicant must agree to contract an attorney from the Florida Tech approved attorney list to ensure proper handling and maintain institutional integrity and reputation.
3. Costs and Fees. It is within the discretion of the college or school within the university to provide funding toward attorney and filing fees associated with the permanent residence process.
The U.S. Department of Labor requires that universities pay all legal fees and advertising costs related to the labor certification process, a requirement of the second preference classification. Should therefore, a University Department undertake sponsorship of an individual in this classification, they must indicate in writing, prior to final approval, that they are willing to cover the legal fees and advertising costs associated with labor certification, approximately $2500 per case.
With the exception of labor certification fees, if any college or school chooses not to provide funding, but agrees to sponsor the employee’s permanent residence process, it is the responsibility of the employee to pay all fees associated with the permanent residence process.
Total legal fees for a permanent resident application can range from $5000-$6000 depending on the complexity of issues involved. If a college or school agrees to fund legal fees, the foreign national will be required to sign a statement of a minimum of a three-year commitment of employment to the university. If a foreign national decides to leave the university before the three-year employment commitment has been satisfied, he/she must reimburse the college or school for the amount incurred on a prorated basis.
4. Senior Vice President for Academics & Provost. It is the responsibility of the foreign national to forward all documentation to ISSS. ISSS will secure all necessary signatures from the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academics and Provost. No other persons are permitted to sign immigration documents on behalf of the university, including a G-28 form, “Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative,” which is a limited power of attorney assigning outside counsel to act on the university’s behalf.
Phase IV: Office of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS)
ISSS will require the three letters mentioned in order to evaluate the case for institutional sponsorship of permanent residency. The letters are: (1) the Department Request Letter addressed to the dean, (2) the Dean’s Response Letter to the Department, and (3) the Individual’s Commitment Letter addressed to the Sponsoring Department. ISSS will review all documents and forward a formal recommendation to the Senior Vice President for Academics for an official signature.
Phase V: The University
Florida Tech has the prerogative to sponsor a full-time contract faculty member. Any externally funded non-teaching research positions of a permanent nature can also be considered if the individual has been working full-time at Florida Tech for a minimum of two years in a Research Professional rank or higher level. Florida Tech will consider sponsorship of these positions only at the end of the person’s second year at the university and only if there is guaranteed funding for at least three more years of employment.
US immigration laws do not permit the University to sponsor part time, temporary positions. The position must be “full time permanent employment.” The University does not therefore sponsor post-doctoral fellows and lecturers for permanent residence, since these positions are considered temporary and do not carry full University employee benefits. Similarly, Florida Tech will also not sponsor part-time, temporary, or visiting positions such as visiting professors, scientists, lecturers, researchers, post-doctoral fellows, adjunct instructors, lab technicians, or family dependents.
Phase VI: Processing Time
Immigrant visa applications are time consuming. It may take anywhere from six months to two years to complete the procedure due to processing backlogs at the various governmental agencies—the U.S. Department of Labor, if applicable, the CIS, and, in some cases, the American consulates abroad. During the processing time, the applicant must maintain a valid non-immigrant visa status if in the U.S. Although the university will make every effort to obtain approval for an application, there is no guarantee that the U.S. government will grant permission to a sponsored applicant to reside permanently in the U.S.
Any immigrant visa application that requires Florida Tech’s sponsorship must follow the policy outlined above. Not doing so, will result in the withdrawal of any cases filed without express permission.
This policy as outlined has been proposed based on current immigration law. U.S. immigration law is subject to change and amended by the U.S. Congress. Therefore, this policy is subject to revision by Florida Tech as new legislation is enacted or the university administration determines that changes are necessary.