Legal Practice Areas

Links and News

Fraud Alert

The OVPGC has learned of some scams that target international students. Read about it here.

Immigration Policy Change

Effective May 26, 2015, changes to the immigration policy for H-4 dependents go into effect. Read the policy at the Department of Homeland Security website.

Focus on STEM OPT

The F-1 STEM optional practical training (OPT) benefit has been the focus of recent interest.  The Department of Homeland Security will likely reformulate the F-1 STEM optional practical training (OPT) benefit in response.  You can find more information here.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Read the policy for requesting consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals at the Department of Homeland Security website.

A letter from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan discusses available resources that educators and Institutions of Higher Education personnel can use to better serve and support undocumented youth, including DACA recipients.

Resources and Immigration Options for Non-citizen Victims of Domestic & Sexual Violence

This brochure provides information about several protections that are available to non-citizen victims of domestic and sexual violence and other crimes.

New Service for IU Employees

The OVPGC is now offering a new, lost-cost service to employees applying to become U.S. citizens.  Read about it here.


Indiana University is an internationally recognized institution that values diversity and welcomes all cultures on all IU campuses. We are proud to have individuals from countries all over the world as part of our faculty, staff, and student body. U.S. immigration laws are complex and the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel (OVPGC) has an immigration attorney on staff to assist with immigration matters and immigration-related policy issues and training.

The OVPGC works closely with the Office of International Services (OIS) and the Office of International Affairs (OIA) to serve IU’s international students, scholars and professionals. Specifically, OVPGC receives referrals from OIS to provide assistance to full-time employees who currently hold a temporary visa and, upon approval from the employing department, wish to apply for permanent residency based on their employment. Individual departments may not work independently with an outside attorney in cases involving a university-sponsored petition; these petitions will only be processed by OVPGC. Vice President and General Counsel Jacqueline Simmons outlines the relevant policy and procedure here.

Permanent Residency Petition Process

Permanent residency, commonly known as “green card,” petitions are lengthy and complex. In order to pursue permanent residency, the applicant’s position must meet certain minimum requirements. First, the employer must receive a permanent labor certification, also known as PERM, from the Department of Labor (DOL). The PERM application must be accompanied by documentation that the employer has tested the labor market and found no able, willing, qualified, and available U.S. workers to fill the position. Once DOL has certified the position, the I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, may be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the petition is approved, the worker will be eligible for an immigrant visa once the visa number is available through the U.S. Department of State. See the current visa bulletin at the U.S. Department of State website for more information on wait times and per-country limits on the availability of visas.

The OVPGC works closely with the employee’s department to facilitate the PERM application and immigrant visa petition process. The following are a few important things to know:

  • International employees in positions defined as temporary by Indiana University are not eligible for an employment-based petition for permanent residency.
  • The request to pursue employment-based permanent residency must be approved by both the department chair or director and the head of the relevant responsibility center on campus.
  • The applicant must have been in the current position or in an IU position closely related to the current position for a full year before the initial request is submitted. Clinical faculty, research professorships, and tenure-track non-teaching academic appointees are exempt from this rule, but must have been formally hired. Exceptions may also be made if the foreign national is nearing the end of eligible nonimmigrant visa status.
  • The department should not promise permanent residency to an international employee, as the process is complex, lengthy, and inherently uncertain.

All temporary employment-based visa petitions, such as F-1, J-1, H1-B, TN, and O-1, are prepared by the international office providing those services to the hiring campus. IUPUI’s Office of International Affairs (OIA) serves international academic appointees and staff at IUPUI, IUPUC, and the Medical Education Centers throughout the state. Indiana University Bloomington Office of International Services (OIS) provides services related to temporary worker petitions for international academic appointees and staff for all other campuses.

Any department wishing to begin the employment-based permanent residency process on behalf of an employee should first contact Joanna Snyder, OIS Associate Director of Scholar Services, and submit the appropriate e-form via iStart to begin the review process. The OIS will make a recommendation regarding which route to permanent residency will be pursued and make a referral to OVPGC if necessary. Teaching faculty may be eligible for a process called “Special Handling” or an “Outstanding Professor or Researcher” application, cases typically filed by OIS. Other cases will be referred to OVPGC for the standard labor certification process. Please refer to the OIS website for additional information.

For More Information

  • An employment-based petition is just one of the paths to obtain permanent residency. Information about other permanent resident petitions and other immigration issues is found at the website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • The complete policy and fee schedule for IU-sponsored employment-based petitions for permanent residence is found here.
  • The schedule of flat fees for OVPGC immigration-related services is found here.