Volume 2, Number 1

February 17, 2005

Greetings from the ISSO scholar team!

The Communiqué is an on-going series of messages to departments who sponsor international scholars at Boston University. With the Communiqué, we will offer information that will help make more effective — and streamline — the processing of scholar immigration-related documents and petitions. We hope you find the Communiqué a useful tool in working with the ISSO and in successfully hiring and sponsoring scholars from around the world.

I-9 Forms for Scholars Changing to Lawful U.S. Permanent Residence

As a matter of institutional policy, the ISSO completes and signs I-9 forms (Employment Eligibility Verification) for any Boston University employee who holds a non-immigrant status. The exception to this rule is in the case of a current employee who applies for, then receives, Lawful U.S. Permanent Residence status. A scholar applying for Lawful Permanent Residence may change the basis of his or her employment authorization two or more times before finally receiving the Permanent Resident Card (i.e., “Green Card”*).

For example, early in the petition process, the employee might obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD, also referred to as an “Employment Authorization Card”) that allows him/her to work anywhere in the U.S. The scholar must come to the ISSO to change his/her employment status to that of a “Pending Permanent Resident” by completing a new I-9 based on the EAD. If permanent residence is not granted during the validity period of that first EAD, the scholar will apply for an extension and must come to the ISSO to complete another I-9 once the new card is received. (Note here that if the scholar does not apply for, and receive, the new card before the old one expires, he/she must cease employment until the new card arrives. An extension application can take three months or more.)

When the scholar is finally called to the USCIS District Office for an interview – usually the last stage of the permanent residence process — the USCIS officer will grant permanent residence by placing a stamp (known as the “I-551 stamp”) in the scholar’s passport. The officer then sends the scholar’s paperwork to a USCIS processing center to have the Permanent Resident Card produced. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. We must complete a new I-9 in the ISSO immediately after the scholar receives the I-551 stamp, and again immediately after he/she receives the Permanent Resident Card.

Once we complete an I-9 in the ISSO based on the Permanent Resident Card, we close the scholar’s ISSO file. Any I-9 required of the scholar in the future (e.g., if the scholar changes departments at BU) can be done in the hiring department.

Please keep in mind that we have described here the process for scholars who begin their employment at BU while holding a non-immigrant status (e.g., H-1, O-1, etc.) then begin the process of changing to permanent residence. If your department hires someone who is already a permanent resident (i.e., already has a “Green Card”), the I-9 can be completed in your department; the ISSO does not need to be involved in any way. Please visit the following ISSO web site page for more information on Boston University’s sponsorship policies.

* The term “Green Card” is a colloquialism. The very first “Alien Registration Card” — as it was know then — was green. Thus, the name that stuck. Today, it is officially known as the Permanent Resident Card, or USCIS Form I-551, and is a creamy color.

Scholars Changing Departments

It is very important for department administrators to consult with the ISSO scholar team when contemplating moving a non-immigrant scholar (i.e., a scholar in J, H, TN, O or any other non-immigrant status) from one department to another. Depending on a broad range of factors, a new visa-related document or amended petition may be necessary before the move can be made. We cannot emphasize strongly enough that adequate time must be given to a) determine if further immigration processing is needed, and b) complete the processing, if necessary, BEFORE the scholar begins work in the new department.

We would be pleased to discuss any such case with you as soon as you see the potential for a change in departments.

Feel Free to Contact Us

As always, if there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us at (617) 353-3565. You can also e-mail us at the addresses below.

Your ISSO Scholar Services Team

James Leck
Assistant Director for Scholar Services

Naomi Moca
International Scholar Advisor