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Green Card Overview

Lawful Permanent Resident Status

Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status is known by many different names: green card holder, resident alien, permanent resident, immigrant, etc.  While there are many different names for it, LPR status means that the recipient has been granted permission by the United States government to remain in the United States on a permanent basis and to live and work anywhere in the United States.  Just as there are many names for LPR status, there are also many ways one may qualify for LPR status, indeed some people qualify for LPR status in more than one way.  Common ways to qualify for LPR status include: family relationshipsstatus as a refugee or asylee, as an investor, or, even as the winner of a lottery.  The Office of Global Strategic Services (GSS) assists Virginia Tech’s departments and foreign national employees with acquiring LPR status based on the foreign national’s employment at the university.  This is known as employment based immigration.

In order to qualify for Virginia Tech sponsorship, the foreign national employee must have a job offer or occupy a position that is full time and permanent in nature. A permanent position is one that has guaranteed long term funding, and is not presently intended by the employer to have some specific end date in the future. The employer and the employee must have the expectation that the employee will continue in the employment for an indefinite or unlimited duration.  For employees in grant funded positions, the sponsoring department must establish that funding for the position is available for a minimum of three years, demonstrate their intent to continue to seek funding for the position, and demonstrate  a reasonable expectation that funding will continue.  Virginia Tech’s permanent residency policy allows departments to sponsor most employees for LPR status.  The major exception is for postdoctoral associates whose appointments are limited to four year terms and therefore cannot be considered permanent.

While in some cases it is possible for a foreign national to “self-sponsor” for LPR status through employment based immigration (see below), all employment based processes GSS assists with require the employer’s involvement.  Note: employees and departments may not hire private immigration attorneys to prepare and/or file employment based petitions/applications on behalf of the university.  If GSS in unable to assist in a particular matter, we will provide the employee and/or department with a referral to outside immigration counsel that has been approved by the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia.  Private immigration attorneys who have not been approved by the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia may not represent the university.  An employee is free to hire outside counsel of their own choice (at their own expense) to represent the employee’s interests, but that attorney may not represent Virginia Tech in any manner. 

The employment based LPR process is a two or three step process depending on whether or a not a labor certification application (see below) is required.  LPR processing is often a lengthy and complex process.  Processing times range from around one year to more than five years, depending on the process chosen, and in some cases, the employee’s country of birth.  The rules governing these processes are specific, unforgiving and often very different from normal university practices.  As a result, frank and prompt communication is critical to success.  Failing to respond to communication from GSS in a timely manner or failing to provide accurately requested information can jeopardize a case and result in expensive and lengthy delays.