Administering Office: International Programs and Services
Approved by Executive Council: December 12, 2005
Posted: December 16, 2005
Revised May 5, 2009
Western Carolina University’s excellent reputation is attracting a growing number of international applicants for various faculty and professional administrative positions. With the advent of the Millennial Campus and related community engagement and regional economic development initiatives, there will be even more research, teaching, and administrative positions in the near future, and the recruitment of highly qualified international candidates will contribute to the university's rich intellectual and cultural diversity.
This document explains the basic procedures involved in hiring an international candidate on either a temporary or a permanent basis. At no time during the search process may a candidate be asked about their citizenship or national origin. Questioning a candidate about citizenship and national origin is a violation of the university's nondiscrimination policies. Questions may be asked about a candidate's legal authorization to work in the United States if this question is asked of all candidates.
Because of the complexity of the federal laws regarding nonimmigrant employment in the United States, all employer-sponsored petitions must be approved in accordance with these procedures and processed through the Office of International Programs and Services.
B. H-1B Visas (temporary visas)
The H-1B Visa is an employer-sponsored visa that is available for individuals who are coming into the United States temporarily to perform services as professionals in specialty occupations. A "specialty occupation" is defined as one that requires a "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge." The position must require a bachelor's or higher degree (or foreign equivalent). Examples of specialty occupations include accountants, computer analysts, engineers, scientists, and teachers.
The entire H-1B petition process takes between 4-6 months, and an applicant generally may not begin work until the petition has been approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
1. Tenure-track Faculty Positions. Academic departments that have an international candidate for a tenure-track faculty position and want to support an H-1B petition must obtain the approval of the Dean prior to extending an offer of employment. The Dean will consult with the Office of International Programs and Services to (i) review the qualifications of the prospective employee, (ii) determine whether the university can sponsor the prospective employee, (iii) review the department's recruitment process, and (iv) ensure that the federal government's requirements have been satisfied.
If the request for petition is approved, the office of International Programs and Services will complete and file the application. Application fees are to be paid by the department out of a state account (for faculty positions).
2. Other Academic or Administrative Positions. Academic or administrative departments that have an international candidate for any position other than a tenure-track faculty position and want to support an H-1B petition first must obtain the approval of the Dean for an academic/research position, or the appropriate Vice Chancellor for an administrative position, prior to extending an offer of employment. The request for petition is then reviewed by the Office of International Programs and Services, which has the authority for final approval. An adverse determination by the Office of International Programs and Services may be appealed to the Provost.
Although each request for petition will be reviewed on its merits, H-1B petitions for SPA and most EPA non-faculty positions are generally not approved by USCIS due to the rigorous requirements pertaining to education and expertise.
If the request for petition is approved, the department must pay the application fees listed in paragraph B.1 above.
C. Permanent Residency (Green Cards)
Persons holding permanent resident status are eligible to remain in the United States indefinitely. An international employee may obtain permanent resident status depending on the availability of an immigrant visa and the category for which one is applying. Employers may file petitions for permanent residency in certain limited circumstances. Ordinarily, petitions can be supported for tenured and tenure-track faculty. Other individuals with "exceptional ability" who hold an advanced degree in a profession may also be eligible to obtain an employment-based immigrant visa upon a showing that there are not sufficient U.S. workers able, willing, and (minimally) qualified for the position.
1. Tenured or Tenure-track Faculty. Academic departments that want to support a permanent residency petition for a tenured or tenure-track faculty member must obtain the approval of the Dean. The Dean will consult with the Office of International Programs and Services to ensure that the federal government's requirements have been satisfied.
If the request for petition is approved, the office of International Programs and Services will complete and file the following applications/petitions: (1) PERM Labor Certification Petition; and (2) USCIS Form I-140 – “Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers”. The application/petition fees are to be paid by the department/Dean out of a state account (for faculty positions). Provided that these applications are approved, the petitioning employee is then responsible for completing the USCIS Form I-485 – “Application to Register for Permanent Residence” - and paying filing fees and other related costs (i.e., attorney’s fees).
2. Other Academic and Administrative Employees. Academic or administrative departments that want to support a permanent residency petition for any employee other than a tenured or tenure-track faculty member first must obtain the approval of the Dean for an academic/research position, or the appropriate Vice Chancellor for an administrative position. The request for petition is then reviewed by the Office of International Programs and Services, which has the authority for final approval. An adverse determination by the Office of International Programs and Services may be appealed to the Provost.
Departments are not encouraged to pursue green card petitions for SPA and EPA non-faculty employees. In order to pursue permanent residency for a non-teaching employee, the employer must establish that there are no minimally qualified U.S. applicants available and willing to accept the position. If there are minimally qualified U.S. applicants, as determined by the Human Resources Department, the process will be terminated for failure to satisfy federal requirements.
If the request for petition is approved, the department/Dean must pay the application fees listed in paragraph C.1 above.
D. Employment of Foreign Nationals
The Office of Human Resources will use the Visualization Compliance II system to clear foreign nationals who are finalists for employment at Western as faculty or staff. A foreign national is defined as any person who is not a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, political asylee, refugee, or another member of a limited class of protected individuals. Therefore, any foreign nationals employed under E, F, H, J, L, or O nonimmigrant visa classifications are considered foreign nationals for purposes of the “deemed export” rule, will be subject to background screening and may require a license. Formal employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. In an effort to comply with export control regulations and to ensure compliance with all applicable employment discrimination laws, all advertised job opportunities and offers of employment will list “that eligibility to receive deemed exports of controlled technology” among the conditions of employment. Any collected information relating to an applicant’s nationality or citizenship is solely for export control compliance purposes and will not be used to unfairly discriminate during the hiring process.