Use of Outside Counsel

UC Berkeley Sponsored Cases

It is UC Berkeley’s policy that all immigrant (employment-based) and non-immigrant petitions, labor certification applications, and labor condition applications filed by UC Berkeley must be processed through the Berkeley International Office (BIO).

While it is always permissible and encouraged for an international student, scholar or employee to retain an attorney, that attorney cannot represent the University of California’s interests. UC Berkeley does NOT authorize outside attorneys to file petitions and applications on its behalf. Only attorneys specifically contracted by the University through the Office of General Counsel are authorized to represent UC Berkeley in immigration matters when following the administrative process supervised by BIO.

Only an authorized person from BIO may approve and/or sign any labor certification, employment-based preference petition, or other immigration document for which UC Berkeley is the employer or sponsor. Neither Human Resources employees nor faculty have authority to sign or approve such documents on behalf of the university.

Individually-Sponsored Immigrant Petitions (Not Employer-Dependent)

An applicant who wishes to independently submit an employment-based first-preference extraordinary ability petition (EB1-A) or an employment-based second-preference – advanced degree holder, national interest waiver or exceptional ability, national interest waiver – (EB 2 NIW) – with the I-140 petition signed only by the applicant – may retain the personal services of an attorney.

The attorney retained by the applicant may not hold himself/herself out as acting on behalf of, or with authority from UC Berkeley and must clearly indicate that he/she represents only the applicant in any correspondence with applicable government agencies. It is the responsibility of the applicant to inform the retained attorney of these rules.

Use of Attorneys for Personal Immigration Work

If an international chooses to use an outside attorney for personal immigration work, the individual must cover all of the costs. The attorney in this case works for the individual – not for UC Berkeley – in the same way that an attorney would handle court appearances to dispute traffic tickets, or estate planning.

While only attorneys contracted by UC Berkeley may represent the University, internationals may wish to employ personal attorneys to represent their interests in immigration matters relating to the section of the forms and proceedings that apply ONLY to the individual, namely adjustment of status or consular processing.

A good immigration attorney can advise the individual about the options available and can help make the best decision depending on the individual’s circumstances. A lawyer can serve as the individual’s advocate and be willing to appeal an unfavorable decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and to go to court if necessary, to argue on behalf of the individual.

What Faculty Can Do

If a faculty member wishes to support an applicant for an individually-sponsored visa petition, the faculty member may write personal letters of support if requested by the applicant. While such letters may accurately reflect the faculty member’s UC Berkeley position and affiliation, the faculty member should make it clear that the statements in the letter reflect his/her personal observations and support and that the faculty member is not speaking on behalf of the institution.

Faculty may verify current employment only for UC Berkeley applicants who are self-petitioning for permanent residency. Faculty may not make any promise of either permanent or ongoing employment for self-petitioning applicants.