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Permanent Residency Immigrant Visa (Green Card)

Overview

Permanent Residency authorizes a foreign national to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. There are several ways to obtain permanent residency in the U.S, including: a petition from an employer, marriage to a U.S. citizen, sponsorship by a close relative who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, or the U.S. Department of State diversity lottery program.

The University of Michigan sponsors employment-based permanent residency visa petitions only. For permanent residency petitions that are not employment-based, contact an attorney.

How to Apply for Employment-Based Permanent Residency

Depending on the employment-based visa category used or the complexity of the visa petition, the actual permanent residency visa petition may be processed by the U-M International Center or it may be referred to an immigration attorney on the U-M Retained Immigration Counsel list. For more information, refer to the U-M Retained Immigration Program.
  1. Select an employment-based preference category
  2. Obtain an Alien Labor Certification (ALC) (if required)
  3. File an Immigrant Visa Petition (I-140)
  4. Wait for an immigrant visa number to become available
  5. File an Adjustment of Status Application (I-485) after an immigrant visa number becomes available.

Dependents

Once the principal employee and dependents are able to file the Form I-485 Adjustment of Status, the dependents may wish to obtain interim employment and/or travel authorization to use in place of the current temporary status.

Travel and work authorizations are granted within about three months of applying and are valid for one year. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing times for the I-485 may exceed one year. As a result, renewals of the travel and work authorization are normally required.

To obtain temporary work or travel authorization, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Form I-765 Employment Authorization Document. Conveys temporary work authorization for a one-year time period. Renewals must be filed in a timely manner to avoid gaps in employment
  • Form I-131 Advance Parole for international travel

NOTE: We recommend that you consult with the retained attorney filing your case or the U-M International Center before making plans to travel during the permanent residency process.

Travel Outside the U.S. during the Permanent Residency Process

You and your dependents may travel and reenter the U.S. using a valid H-1B or H-4 visa or using I-131 Advance Parole documents while your application for adjustment of status is pending with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Travel documents needed for an H-1B or H-4 Visa

  • Passport with valid H-1B or H-4 visa. If you do not have a valid H-1B/H-4 visa stamp and need to apply for one at a U.S. Consulate, please contact the Faculty/Staff Immigration Services office for a travel pack before travel.
  • Form I-797 filing fee receipt from your I-485 Adjustment of Status application

Travel document needed for an I-131 Advance Parole Document

  • Passport
  • Form I-797 filing fee receipt from your I-485 Adjustment of Status application
  • I-131 Advance Parole travel document

Some may find it more convenient to obtain advance parole as it avoids the need to renew the H visa at a U.S. Consulate. Also, unlike H visas from certain countries, advance parole is valid for multiple entries during a one year period.

You may request advance parole concurrently with the I-485 or at a later date. It is a good idea to file the I-131 along with the I-485 as USCIS is taking approximately 12 weeks to issue the advance parole travel documents. Since advance parole must be obtained prior to leaving the U.S., the long processing time could preclude the use of advance parole should the need to depart the U.S. arise suddenly.

After re-entering the U.S. on advance parole, you may continue to be employed during the validity of your H-1B petition while your adjustment of status is pending. If your H-1B status has lapsed you may use a USCIS issued Employment Authorization Card instead.

Note that you may enter the U.S. using an I-131 Advance Parole and still be able to extend your H-1B if you still have time left within the normal six year limit. In addition, if your labor certification or immigrant petition was filed 365 days in advance of the end of the 6th year of H-1B status, your H-1B can be extended annually until your permanent residence is granted. If the H-1B extension application is approved, it will have the effect of terminating the grant of parole and admitting you back into H-1B status.

Your Obligations as a Permanent Resident

Your responsibility to the U.S. government does not end once you receive your Permanent Resident visa status.

Changes of address If you move to a new residence, you must report the change of address to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 10 days of the change. This can be done online at USCIS Online Change of Address page. Please have the following information available before you begin:
  • Your receipt notice or other notice showing your receipt number (if you have a pending case with USCIS)
  • Your new address
  • Your old address
  • If you have filed a petition for a family member, please have the names and biographical information for that person
  • When you last entered the United States (if you cannot remember this information please fill in an approximate date)
  • Where you last entered the United States (through what port of entry you entered - whether by land, sea or air)
Travel Once you are a permanent resident, travel is generally not a problem, provided you have a valid passport from your country of citizenship and your Permanent Resident card. Currently, USCIS is issuing permanent residence cards for 10 year periods. You must renew this card before the expiration date.

If you plan to remain outside the U.S. for more than one year, it is necessary to obtain a reentry permit before leaving the country. Additionally, we recommend obtaining a reentry permit for periods over six months to avoid potential complications when reentering. Application for a reentry permit is made using Form I-131 Advance Parole travel document.

If you must remain outside the U.S. for extended periods of time, please note that obtaining a reentry permit or making a return trip to the U.S. once or twice a year for a few weeks will not be enough to maintain permanent resident status. USCIS examines the reasons for the extended absence, the individual's intentions, and other factors establishing the person's ties to the U.S.

Faculty and academic staff who will be on extended leaves from the University should take steps to preserve their permanent resident status prior to leaving the country. If you plan to remain outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
Social Security Numbers All permanent residents of the U.S. must have a Social Security number. If any of your family members have not yet applied for Social Security numbers, they must now do so. For information, refer to the U.S. Social Security Administration. The local Social Security Administration office is located at 3971 Research Park Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.
Selective Service Registration All male U.S. permanent residents who are of draft age (between the ages of 18 to 27) must register with the Selective Service. There is very little that can be done to remedy a failure to register once an individual has turned 27. Please understand that the knowing or willful failure of a male, draft-age permanent resident to register will prejudice eligibility for U.S. citizenship. Selective Service Registration may be done at a U.S. Post Office.
Taxes As a U.S. permanent resident you must always pay taxes as a “resident” for tax purposes. Failure to file U.S. tax returns as a resident evidences a clear intention to be considered a nonresident of the United States, which constitutes an intention to abandon permanent resident status. Claiming nonresident tax treatment pursuant to a tax treaty between your home country and the U.S. will also be deemed an abandonment of permanent residence.

Last reviewed: 07/10