Those challenging Emanuel's eligibility to run for mayor of Chicago were expected to take their fight next to circuit court, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Hearing officer Joseph Morris earlier Thursday issued a 69-page report that found Emanuel had preserved his Chicago residency while he was in Washington working as President Barack Obama's chief of staff.
"It has not been established that the candidate, a resident of Chicago, abandoned his status as such a resident," Morris wrote. "In any event, his absence from Illinois during that time in question is excused, for purposes of the safeguarding and retention of his status as a resident and elector, by express operation of Illinois law."
Morris' non-binding recommendation was filed just before 2 a.m. Thursday .
Morris accepted Emanuel's argument that those who objected to his name being on the ballot had to prove he "abandoned" his Chicago residency when he moved to Washington.
"The heart of the question of the candidate's residence is not whether the candidate established residence in Chicago in 2010, but rather if, at some point prior to, or during, but in any event affecting, the period from and after Feb. 22, 2010, he abandoned it," Morris wrote.
Emanuel said he was pleased with Morris' determination.
"It affirms what I have said all along -- that the only reason I left town was to serve President Obama and that I always intended to return," Emanuel said in a statement.
Burt Odelson, lead attorney for the objectors, said the decision turns the residency law on its head.
Odelson charged everything Emanuel did to bolster his residency came after Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he would not seek re-election. Those actions included applying for homeowner's property tax exemption and amending his 2009 tax returns.