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Permanent Residency Process: Outstanding Professor and Researcher

Per university guidelines, the University of Maryland will support petitions for permanent residency provided the faculty position is considered tenure-track/permanent.  The following specific guidelines apply:

  • Positions must be
    1. in the series of tenured or tenure-track professorial ranks
    2. in the series of non-tenure-track research professorial ranks or senior lecturers.
  • The position must be full-time.
  • Petitions for post-doctoral or graduate fellows, faculty research assistants and research associates will not be supported.
  • The department/unit and college must stipulate an intention to maintain the appointment for at least three years. If a position is funded by a grant, there must be an expectation of continued employment for at least three years even if the grant funding ceases.
  • ISSS only files permanent residency applications that qualify for the EB-1-2 Outstanding Professor or Researcher or the EB-2 Members of the professions holding advanced degrees (labor certification under “special handling”). Under the EB-2 category, “special handling” is used for college and university professors and benefits from a less stringent labor certification process.


To be considered for Permanent Residence sponsorship by the University of Maryland under the Outstanding Professor or Researcher category, international professors or researchers will meet specific criteria. They will:

  1. have obtained departmental endorsement to proceed with a permanent residency petition
  2. have at least three years of experience in teaching or research in their academic area,
  3. be employed at the University in a full-time, tenured or tenure-track position or equivalent,
  4. be hired to teach or do research, and be able to show convincing evidence that they are outstanding and internationally recognized in their fields.

Assuming an employee meets the above criteria, there are two main phases to obtaining permanent residency status.

Phase 1: File Form I-140 - Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker

The Form I-140 filed in the Outstanding Professor/Research category is an employment-based petition, which must be filed by an employer on an alien worker's behalf. In short, the employee cannot self-petition (or pay the fees for) the I-140.

During the I-140 process, the employee will work with ISSS and his/her employing department to:

  1. confirm eligibility for permanent residency under the Outstanding category,
  2. review and compile the appropriate evidence for a strong case, and
  3. complete the I-140 form, collect fees, and file the total petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Note: This process is very lengthy and labor-intensive, given the significant evidence requirements of the Outstanding category. ISSS will provide extensive advising throughout this period.

[Continue to Step-by-Step Process for the I-140]

Phase 2: File Form I-485

The second phase, following approval of the I-140, is a personal petition called the I-485, whereby the alien worker petitions to the U.S. government to then change his or her status.  The I-485 should also be completed for any dependents of the employee also seeking permanent residency.

As the I-485 is the personal part of the permanent residency application--as opposed to the I-140, which is employment based-- ISSS is legally unable to advise on this part of the process.   Applicants are personally responsible for completing this form correctly and compiling the supporting evidence. They should review instructions very carefully and consult an immigration attorney if they have any questions/concerns (ISSS can provide a list of such attorneys if needed).

[More information about the I-485]


The I-140 is currently taking 8-10 months to process, though this is subject to change.

This timeline is lengthened if there are Requests for Further Evidence (RFE's).

Departments have the option to pay an additional fee for premium processing, which in theory could shorten processing time to 15 business days. However, most premium processed petitions receive RFE's, which delays the process.

The I-485 currently takes an additional 4 months to process.  This is also subject to change. There is no option to premium process the I-485.


  • $700 - filing fee for the I-140. Must be paid by the department.
  • $1,225 - fee for the I-485. Per the department chair, this may be paid by either the employee or the sponsoring department.

Employees with dependents seeking permanent residency will pay additional fees for each person's I-485: $750 for children under 14 / $1,225 for spouses and older children.

An optional premium processing fee of $2,500 may be paid by the department to expedite the I-140 process. There is no option to premium process the I-485.

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