Permanent Residents to the US-Office of International Education - Carnegie Mellon University

Permanent Residents to the US

OIE's handout on US Legal Permanent Residence (.pdf)

Permanent residents to the US are also referred to as "green card" holders, immigrants, lawful permanent residents, and resident aliens. These individuals typically plan to remain in the US on a long-term and/or permanent basis. A person may apply to be a permanent resident to the US based on one of three criteria: (1) family, (2) employment, or (3) public or humanitarian policy. At Carnegie Mellon, most people will apply to become a permanent resident of the US based on "employment."

OIE does not process applications for permanent residency to the US. Scholars are welcome to meet with an OIE Advisor for general advice, but the actual process will involve the employee, department, and a pre-approved attorney for employment-based petitions.

If and when an individual applies for permanent residency based on employment, in most cases the department/employer will be involved in the process no matter if the department or the individual is making the primary contacts with the attorney. Either way, the department/employer will "sponsor" the application to the USCIS and will be involved in approving the attorney to handle the case, signing off on key forms and documents, confirming employment conditions, providing letters of recommendation, etc. In most cases, the department head is the appropriate person to write and/or sign these official documents. In some cases, the department will pay for the attorney costs; in some cases, the individual will pay for the attorney fees. This is a departmental decision.

Departments and scholars who are involved with an employment-based permanent resident petition are obliged to use one of the pre-approved attorneys (.pdf).

The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) offers a wealth of information on permanent residency on the website at and click on "Permanent Residence (Green Card)" from the USCIS home page.

Last Updated On: December 7, 2016