The University welcomes thousands of international students, visitors, faculty, and staff to its campus each year. The Office of Legal Affairs provides guidance to the University in navigating the complex immigration-related processes and questions that arise due to the global nature of the institution.
- Mark J. Hedien Associate General Counsel
Answers to frequently asked questions concerning University immigration procedures may be found below.
Who do I contact regarding immigration questions at OSU?
- For questions concerning F-1, J-1, H-1b, or E-3 status, please contact the Office of International Affairs (OIA). Phone: 614-292-6101.
- For questions regarding Permanent Residence (“Green Cards”), O-1, P-1, I-9 or other general immigration questions, please contact Mark J. Hedien in The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA). Phone: 614-292-0611. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For questions regarding J-1 status for physicians at OSU sponsored by the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), please contact Graduate Medical Education. (Questions about J-1 waivers for physicians should be addressed to the Office of Legal Affairs.)
I am a foreign national employee at OSU. I would like OSU to begin an immigration process on my behalf (e.g., I-129, I-140 or labor certification). How does this process start?
If you want OSU to begin an immigration process for you, please have your unit HR or Fiscal person contact OIA or Legal Affairs to determine the appropriate course of action. In permanent residence or O-1 cases, note that the Department Chair, Division Chief, Center Director, or other individual with appropriate administrative level authority in your unit will ultimately be responsible for signing the I-140 filed by OSU on your behalf, so please be certain that this individual is also supportive of the case. In H-1b cases, OIA will determine the appropriate individual to sign the I-129 form.
I am a foreign national employee at OSU. Can I hire my own lawyer to work on immigration filings for OSU?
No. All immigration filings on behalf of the University must be handled either by the Office of International Affairs, the OSU Office of Legal Affairs, or by a lawyer appointed by the Ohio Attorney General’s office to represent the University after a request to Legal Affairs. (This includes EB-1b Outstanding Researcher\Professor cases.) It does not matter whether you are willing to pay for the lawyer.
- NO ONE at the OSU may sign a form I-129, I-140, ETA-9089, or G-28 on behalf of the University without first speaking with either the Office of Legal Affairs or the Office of International Affairs.
- Note that for self-petitions in the National Interest Waiver or EB-1a Extraordinary Ability categories, where you are signing Form I-140 yourself, you are of course free to hire counsel of your own choosing, and we certainly encourage qualified staff to investigate such options where available.
I am a foreign national employee at OSU. Can I consult with an immigration lawyer about my own situation?
Of course. While state law limits representation of the University, you should absolutely feel free to speak with your own lawyer about immigration matters. If you have plans to remain in the U.S. long term, this is probably a very good idea.
However, please keep in mind that your lawyer cannot determine what actions the University will take on your behalf or prepare immigration forms or related documents to be filed by the University.
What types of positions qualify for permanent residence (“green card”) sponsorship at OSU?
In order for OSU to sponsor a foreign national employee for permanent residence in the United States, the employee must be working in, or have an offer for, a full-time, “permanent” position at OSU. (There may be a limited exception for certain aliens who meet the “extraordinary ability” criteria.) For immigration purposes, “permanent” means either tenure-track or a position “of indefinite duration with a continued expectation of long-term employment.” Some examples of positions that will or will not qualify are included below. (Note that this is not all-inclusive.)
Examples of positions that normally WILL qualify for OSU green card sponsorship:
- Tenure-track, clinical-track, or research-track faculty.
- Research Scientist, Research Associate (regular, non-term), Research Specialist, Clinical Research Coordinator.
- Regular, full-time staff positions (e.g., business, program, or information technology staff).
- (NOTE: Being in one of these classifications does not automatically mean OSU will begin the green card process for you. The process still must start with a request from the hiring unit to the Office of Legal Affairs.)
Examples of positions that normally WILL NOT qualify for OSU green card sponsorship:
- Post-Doctoral Researcher or Post-Doctoral Fellow.
- Medical Resident or Fellow.
- Visiting Scholars or Visiting Professors.
- Adjunct faculty.
I am a foreign national tenure-track faculty member. Is it true that I must have permanent residence prior to receiving tenure at OSU?
Yes. The tenure process may be initiated and a recommendation made, but the formal grant of tenure may not be finalized until a faculty member has permanent residence (i.e., a green card). If you are at the end of your tenure clock and do not have a green card yet, University procedures currently call for conversion to visiting status (with full benefits) for up to three years until the green card process can be completed and you can formally move into the tenured position. While priority date retrogression may possibly create tenure clock issues for faculty born in India or China, we have not, to date, had any faculty member reach the end of the tenure clock plus three years without receiving a green card. If you are nearing the end of your tenure clock and do not have a green card yet, please have your unit discuss this issue with the Office of Legal Affairs.
I am a foreign national employee at OSU. Can the OSU Office of Legal Affairs handle my personal immigration case?
The OSU Office of Legal Affairs only handles matters that involve University sponsorship of some form. For purely personal matters, such as marriage-based permanent residence cases or citizenship applications, you will need to seek your own attorney.
I am a foreign national employee at OSU. Can the OSU Office of Legal Affairs recommend an attorney for my personal immigration matters?
While individual attorneys in our office may be able to provide some names of lawyers from their personal past experience, the Office of Legal Affairs does not provide recommendations for specific attorneys. There are many excellent immigration lawyers in the Columbus area, and you may wish to consult the website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) or speak with others you know who have gone through the process.