Permanent resident sponsorship policy

Guidelines for sponsoring employees for permanent residence
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Updated March 2011

1. Purpose of this policy

It is the company’s intent to sponsor an employee for permanent resident alien status (also commonly known as a green card) only when such application is necessary to meet business need and the applicant meets the requirements established by United States immigration law.

2. Definition of permanent resident card (Green Card)

A foreign national who has permanent resident or green card status may lawfully live and work permanently in the United States. It also serves as evidence of the individual’s registration in accordance with immigration laws.

An employer may sponsor the green card application of an individual who can be defined under U.S. immigration law in one of the following categories:

  • A priority worker. This includes multinational managers or outstanding researchers;
  • A professional with advanced degrees or person with exceptional ability. This includes persons doing work in the national interest of the United States. Such a showing does not require advertisement of the job nor a demonstration that qualified American workers cannot be found. Most of BP’s green card sponsorship for Early Experience Program (e.g., Challenge Program) participants will fall in this category;
  • A skilled or professional worker. This includes those with a Bachelor degree or two years of professional-level experience;
  • A special immigrant; or
  • An immigrant investor.

To sponsor an individual, BP must complete and file an immigrant visa petition (INS form I-140) with any required accompanying documentation.

3. Business need

The business needs of the company — not the personal desire of the employee — is the most important factor in deciding whether or not BP will support a green card application. A green card application will not be initiated solely at the request of an employee or his or her line management.

The company will sponsor a green card application only if the following criteria are met:

  • Length of Service — Unless there is a business need that warrants acceleration of the application process, an employee must have completed at least one year of service before eligibility for an application will be considered.
  • Career Path — An employee’s career path must be in the U.S. Green card holders can still be placed in international assignments. However, it is critical that his/her general career path is intended to be in the U.S.
  • Assignment Locale — To meet a business need, it must be required that the employee will work in the U.S. either for extended periods of time or use the U.S. as the career home location.
  • Early Experience Program Employees — Green card sponsorship should be aligned with the Early Experience Program (e.g., Challenge Program) to the extent possible. Participants should be exposed to a variety of assignments for the first two years of their BP experience. After that, in order to facilitate green card sponsorship, which is valid for one job in one location, the participant should be placed in a more permanent role that can be expected to remain substantially stable for several years until the participant gets the green card, subject to the other guidelines of this policy.
  • Commitment — The green card application process should not be undertaken unless management and the employee are committed to take the time necessary to assist in the process, devote the resources to cover BP’s internal expense in this process and be willing to wait to complete the process (in some instances, several years).

Once the decision to seek a green card has been made, the employee must remain assigned to work in the U.S. until the case is concluded and for a reasonable time thereafter (usually two years, but exceptions may be considered). It is expensive and inefficient to begin the process only to cancel it when management decides to send the employee on a non-U.S. assignment. Likewise, a new green card holder invites scrutiny from U.S. government authorities if he/she leaves the U.S. for extended periods of time immediately after obtaining the green card because it will appear that false representations were made about the intent for continued U.S. employment.

4. Special considerations

In some circumstances, in addition to the business case, it may be appropriate to consider an employee’s special personal needs when determining sponsorship for a green card. Special personal needs include: (1) the need for medical care for the employee or a dependent while he/she resides in the U.S., and (2) children who turn age 21 while the employee is working in the U.S. (once a child becomes 21, he/she must establish an independent basis to remain in the U.S. if the employee does not have a green card).

5. Approvals to initiate application

Authority for approval to proceed with sponsorship of a green card application is with the Strategic Performance Unit (SPU)/Business Unit (BU)/Function head, the SPU/BU/Function HR manager, the Director of Employee Relations, Western Hemisphere and Legal.

Discussions of green card sponsorship in the recruitment or new-hire process must first be approved by BP legal counsel.

6. Application process

All green card applications sponsored by BP will be handled and submitted by BP legal counsel. Employees are not permitted to seek their managers’ signatures on documents that they file in an attempt to secure an employment-based green card outside of this policy.

Employees who desire to seek a green card without BP involvement (because the petition is not based on BP employment) must notify their management and BP’s legal immigration team. Under no circumstances may an employee self-petition for a green card based on employment with BP. BP reserves the right to protect its proprietary information and other intellectual capital; however, non-U.S. BP employees may not have signed appropriate agreements to protect BP’s proprietary information under U.S. law. It may be therefore necessary to take appropriate steps with a non-U.S. employee who could gain the ability to leave BP’s employment and work for a competitor in the U.S. to require execution of appropriate U.S. confidentiality agreements or to limit access to proprietary data. In addition, BP must maintain other documentation that correctly reflects the employee’s valid work status.

7. Local pay and benefits

Once a green card is approved and issued with BP sponsorship — or sooner, if the application process is reasonably expected to result in approval — it is expected that the holder’s employment status will be localized and he/she will be considered permanently relocated in the U.S. for payroll and benefit purposes, unless business circumstances have changed and dictate otherwise.


BP reserves the right to unilaterally amend, change, modify, delete, replace or add to the statements in these guidelines, at any time, with or without prior notice. BP also reserves the right to interpret the provisions of these guidelines, and such interpretations will be final and binding. In addition, not every situation can be anticipated in written policies, guidelines and/or procedures, and the facts surrounding any situation can require discretionary judgments by appropriate levels of management.

These guidelines are not intended to create, nor do they create, any express or implied contractual rights in any person. Unless he/she has entered into an express written agreement signed by an authorized company representative, each employee of BP is an "at-will" employee. Just as any at-will employee may terminate his/her employment at any time and for any reason, BP may terminate any at-will employee at any time, with or without cause, and with or without prior notice. These guidelines do not represent a contract, or an offer to form a contract, and do not create any binding contractual commitments between an employee and BP regarding any subject, and do not alter or limit the at-will employment status of BP employees.

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