The Harvard International Office (HIO) acts for the University in all matters concerning visa and immigration regulations that enable the University to employ foreign faculty and researchers. Any individual who is not already a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident or does not have status that allows for work authorization must have Harvard University visa sponsorship to be employed by Harvard. Any appointment at Harvard is contingent upon obtaining appropriate visa status, and the U.S. government is the final arbiter of all immigration-related cases. In most cases, individuals are sponsored on nonimmigrant temporary visas. In some situations, the University will sponsor immigrant visas. The following account of the kinds of visas and how they relate to various appointments should guide a department in preparing additional documentation required for appointment of a foreign national.
(1) Nonimmigrant Visa
When a department anticipates the appointment of a foreign national on a short-term, temporary, or permanent basis, preliminary information must be provided to the International Office. Detailed information regarding how to submit such information is available on the HIO website. Once the information is received and reviewed, the HIO will then determine the appropriate nonimmigrant visa and provide instructions on how to secure nonimmigrant status, which will allow employment by the University. Individuals already in this country may be eligible to apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status, a transfer, or an extension of their status in order to facilitate temporary employment. If not in the United States or if certain conditions exist, the foreign national may need to apply to a consulate for a visa.
It is possible in many circumstances to renew a nonimmigrant visa for several years. The International Office requests information about the appointment of all individuals who hold Harvard University visa sponsorship, prior to visa status expiration. This allows the HIO to take necessary action to facilitate a continuing, ending, or changing appointment.
(2) Immigrant Visa
The International Office generally provides immigrant visa sponsorship for tenure-track faculty and very high-level permanent research positions. The administrator from the department should contact the HIO to initiate consideration of whether an application may be made for an individual.
There are two types of applications that the HIO routinely utilizes:
a. Labor Certification: This type of case relies on a search to fill the positions and allows the University to pursue permanent residency through a process that begins with the Department of Labor (DOL).
Labor Certification based on faculty recruitment allows the University to file on behalf of teaching positions for which there has been a thorough faculty search. The foreign national must be the best qualified to fill the faculty position of the entire pool of applicants. An application on this basis must be submitted to the Department of Labor within 18 months of completion of the academic search. This route is commonly used for tenure-track faculty positions.
Although the DOL has started to recognize the validity of online recruitment, the standards for the use of solely online ads remain unclear. Therefore, for teaching appointments, we strongly suggest that you rely on a print advertisement. If you decide to only use an online ad, please note that the ad must be well documented. The online ad must appear in an electronic or web-based national professional journal for at least 30 days. The start date, end date, name of the journal, and the full text of the ad must be objectively documented. The text must include the job titles, duties, and minimum requirements. Before you decide to rely solely on online recruitment, please contact Anne Gardsbane, Assistant Director in the HIO, for details on compliance.
b. Outstanding Ability: This petition requires that the University prove the extremely high caliber of the applicant in both the national and international field of endeavor. USCIS determines whether the individual meets the qualifications by requiring significant evidence in enumerated categories such as publications, original contributions to the field, and reviews or exhibitions of the work. These routes are intended for use by individuals who are commonly recognized as leaders in their fields of endeavor. Such cases are commonly filed on behalf of associate professors and professors, as well as high-level researchers.
(3) Foreign Residency Requirement
Individuals who have held certain types of funding during an academic career may be precluded from having specific nonimmigrant and any immigrant status until the requirement is served or waived. Examples of individuals who are subject to this requirement are the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship or a Muskie Fellow.
(4) Term Appointment
Any foreign national who is appointed to a term appointment may not have enough time left in nonimmigrant status in order to fulfill the duration of the appointment. It may be necessary to seek alternative nonimmigrant status in order to fulfill the length of a term appointment. Any appointment at Harvard is contingent upon obtaining appropriate visa status, and the government is the final arbiter of all immigration cases.
(5) Tenured Appointment
Any foreign national who is appointed to a tenured position usually needs an immigrant visa in order to fulfill such an appointment.
(6) Permanent Resident
If a foreign national already holds an immigrant visa, also referred to as having permanent residency or a “green card,” this indicates that the individual is free to accept any type of employment that the individual can secure without limit of time. Information regarding the individual need not be filed with the International Office.