University of Wisconsin–Madison

Permanent Residency

Who is a permanent resident?

A permanent resident (PR) is someone who has the right to live and work in the United States permanently. Permanent residents are often referred to as “green card” holders.

Being a permanent resident is not the same as being a U.S. citizen. Permanent residents may become naturalized U.S. citizens eventually.

How long can I hold PR status?

PR holders are allowed to remain permanently in the U.S. To maintain your status as a permanent resident in the United States, you must have a primary residence in the United States and obtain a Re-entry Permit from USCIS for any trip outside of the United States which will last longer than one calendar year.

Who is eligible?

UW-Madison is only able to file a permanent residency application for certain employees:

  1. New tenure-track or tenured faculty who were offered the job within the past 18 months after a proper national recruitment was conducted;
  2. Clinical and CHS faculty with primary teaching responsibilities who were offered the job within the past 18 months after a proper national recruitment was conducted;
  3. Tenured faculty who appear to meet the “Outstanding Professor” qualifications, regardless of when the initial offer letter was issued;
  4. High level research staff and scientists who hold or have been offered a permanent research position in the Researcher or Scientist title series and who appear to qualify for the “Outstanding Professor/Researcher” (OPR) category, regardless of when the initial offer letter was issued.

Additionally, there are numerous other ways to obtain permanent residency on your own without UW-Madison sponsorship. The most common ways are by a petition you file that prove national interest or exceptional ability, sponsorship by a qualifying family member, investors, religious workers, asylum, and the diversity lottery.

Who is not eligible?

An individual who was previously on a J-1 or J-2 visa and is subject to the two year home residency requirement is not eligible for PR until the individual has either waived that requirement or been in their home country for two years.


When a foreign national obtains permanent residence, the spouse and all children under the age of 21 are also eligible to receive permanent residence, as long as they were included in the application.

How do I request that UW-Madison sponsor PR for me?

The decision to file a permanent residence application must be authorized by the appropriate Dean’s office in consultation with IFSS. No promises can be made to current or prospective employees that the University will file or obtain permanent residence on their behalf. The petitioning process is lengthy, involving up to three government agencies, and the final decision to grant the permanent residence must be made by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. It is never a certainty that the permanent residence will be approved.