What is Form i-140 and why do you need it?

To work in the United States permanently as a non-citizen, you may need to get an immigrant visa based on employment. To do this, you must file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Your potential employer submits this form on your behalf to petition USCIS to classify you as eligible for an employment-based immigrant visa. The form establishes that you have a valid job offer from a U.S. employer willing and able to sponsor you for permanent residency, and that you meet the qualifications and requirements for your specific visa category.

Filing Form i-140 in 2024

Filing Form I-140 is not enough to get an immigrant visa or a green card. While an approved Form I-140 offers several benefits, including extending nonimmigrant status beyond the normal limit, applying for an employment authorization document (EAD), or changing employers without affecting immigration status, you must also apply for an adjustment of status (if you’re already in the U.S.) or consular processing (if you’re outside the U.S.) after your petition is approved.

What are the benefits of Form i-140?

Form I-140 can provide several advantages for noncitizens who want to work permanently in the U.S., such as:

  • It allows you to establish your eligibility for an employment-based immigrant visa category, ranging from EB-1 (priority workers) to EB-5 (investors).
  • It enables you to secure a valid job offer from a U.S. employer who has demonstrated their ability and willingness to pay you at least the prevailing wage for your occupation and location.
  • It grants you priority date protection, which means that your place in line for an immigrant visa will be determined by the date when USCIS receives your petition, not when it approves it. This can help you avoid long waiting times due to visa number availability.
  • You can extend your nonimmigrant status beyond its standard limit if your priority date is not current. For example, if you are on an H-1B visa, which has a maximum duration of six years, you can apply for one-year extensions until your priority date becomes current.
  • It allows you to apply for an EAD if your priority date is current, but USCIS has not adjudicated your adjustment of status application within 180 days of filing it. An EAD authorizes you to work in any job without restrictions while waiting for your green card approval.
  • It enables you to change employers without affecting your immigration status if certain conditions are met. For example, suppose you have an approved Form I-140 under EB-2 or EB-3 category and have filed an adjustment of status application pending for more than 180 days. In that case, you can change employers if the new job offer is in the same or similar occupational classification as the original one.

How to qualify for Form i-140?

To qualify for Form I-140, you must meet the criteria and requirements for one of the employment-based

immigrant visa categories. These categories are:

  • EB-1: Priority workers with extraordinary abilities, outstanding achievements, or exceptional skills in their fields of expertise.
  • EB-2: Professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability, who can benefit the national interest of the U.S.
  • EB-3: Skilled workers, professionals, and other workers, who have at least two years of experience or a bachelor’s degree in their occupations.
  • EB-4: Special immigrants from certain religious, humanitarian, or other special groups that qualify for immigration benefits.
  • EB-5: Investors who can create at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers by investing at least $1.8 million (or $900,000 in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise.

Each category has its eligibility criteria and requirements that you must meet to qualify for Form I-140. You can find more details about each category on the USCIS website.

Different types of Form i-140 petitions

Depending on your visa category and your relationship with your employer, you may file one of the following types of Form I-140 petitions:

  • Regular petition: This is the most common type of petition, where your employer files Form I-140 on your behalf and submits evidence of their ability to pay you the prevailing wage for your position and location and your qualifications and credentials for your visa category.
  • Self-petition: This is a type of petition where you file Form I-140 on your behalf without an employer sponsor. You must submit evidence of your achievements and contributions to your field of expertise, as well as evidence that you will continue to work in an area of substantial intrinsic merit that benefits the U.S. This option is only available for specific visa categories, such as EB-1A (extraordinary ability) and EB-2 NIW (national interest waiver).
  • Concurrent petition: This is a type of petition where you file Form I-140 together with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status if you are already in the U.S. and eligible to adjust your Status. This option can save you time and money by allowing you to apply for both steps simultaneously. However, you must make sure that your priority date is current before filing a concurrent petition.

Documents Required for Form I-140 Petition

Form I-140 is a petition that is filed by an employer to sponsor an immigrant worker for permanent residency in the United States. The documents required for the petition vary depending on the visa category and type of petition. Below are some common documents that may be required:

Labor Certification

If applicable, a copy of Form I-797C, Notice of Action, showing receipt of the required labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL).

Identification and Status

Please provide a copy of your passport or other identification, proof of nationality, and current visa or proof of lawful status in the U.S. if applicable.

Education and Work Experience

You must provide a resume or CV showcasing your education, work experience, and achievements, along with a diploma, degree, certificate, or transcript to demonstrate you meet the education requirements for your visa category. If your degree is from a foreign institution, you may also need to include a credential evaluation report from an authorized agency.

Qualifications and Accomplishments

A copy of any license, certification, registration, or membership that demonstrates your qualifications for your visa category. You may also need to submit a verification letter from the issuing authority if the document is not in English. Submit evidence of exceptional ability or achievements, such as publications, awards, honours, or patents. You may also need letters of recommendation from experts in your field.

Job Offer

A copy of any contract, offer letter, or other evidence showing that you have a job offer from a U.S. employer willing to sponsor you for Form I-140. The document must include the job title, duties, salary, location of the position, and the employer’s name, address, and contact information.

It is important to note that these are only some of the common documents required and that specific instructions for your visa category and type of petition should be carefully reviewed on the USCIS website before submitting Form I-140.

Processing time and fees for Form i-140

The processing time and fees for Form I-140 depend on several factors, such as the visa category, the type of petition, the service centre location, and the workload of the USCIS.

  1. The current filing fee for Form I-140 is $555. You can pay this fee by check, money order, or credit card. If required, you may also need to pay additional fees for biometrics or medical examinations.
  2. The regular processing time for Form I-140 may vary from case to case, but generally, it takes more than three months. You can check the current processing times for your service centre on the USCIS website.
  3. To expedite your petition, you can opt for a premium processing service by paying an extra $2,500. With this service, the USCIS guarantees to process your petition within 15 calendar days or refund your fee. You can request premium processing by filing Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, and Form i-140.

Benefits and drawbacks of Form I-140

Form I-140 is an important step in your journey to becoming a permanent resident of the U.S. through employment. Some of the benefits of filing Form I-140 include the following:

  • You can establish your eligibility for an immigrant visa based on your skills, talents, or investments.
  • You can secure your priority date, determining when to apply for a green card.
  • You can apply for a green card concurrently with Form i-140 if your priority date is current and you are in the U.S.
  • You can apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) and a travel document (advance parole) while waiting for your green card approval if you have filed Form I-485 concurrently with Form I-140.
  • You can retain your priority date and portability options if you change employers or jobs after filing Form I-140 under certain conditions.

However, there are also some drawbacks of filing Form i-140 that you should be aware of:

  1. You may face long processing times and delays due to high demand and limited availability of immigrant visas in some categories.
  2. You may need to obtain a labour certification from the DOL before filing Form i-140 if you are applying under EB-2 or EB-3 categories, which can be time-consuming and complex.
  3. You may need to submit extensive documentation and evidence to prove your eligibility and qualifications for your visa category, which can be costly and challenging.
  4. You may face scrutiny and requests for evidence (RFEs) from the USCIS if they find any issues or discrepancies in your petition or supporting documents.

Therefore, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons of filing Form I-140 and consult an immigration attorney if you have any questions or concerns.

FAQ

Some of the frequently asked questions about Form I-140 are:

What are the different types of Form i-140 petitions?

There are five types of Form I-140 petitions based on employment preference categories. These categories include EB-1 for priority workers, EB-2 for professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability, EB-3 for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers, EB-4 for special immigrants, and EB-5 for immigrant investors.

What are the requirements for filing Form i-140?

The requirements for filing Form I-140 vary depending on the type of petition and the beneficiary’s qualifications. Generally, the petitioner must submit evidence of the beneficiary’s eligibility for the preference category, such as educational credentials, work experience, publications, awards, etc. The petitioner must also submit evidence of a valid job offer and labour certification (unless exempt) for most categories.

How long does it take to process Form i-140?

The processing time for Form I-140 depends on several factors, such as the type of petition, the service centre where it is filed, and the workload of USCIS. According to USCIS data, as of January 2021, the average processing time ranges from 6.5 months to 13 months.

Conclusion

Form I-140 is a crucial step in obtaining a green card through employment in the U.S. To become a permanent resident of the U.S., you must understand visa categories, petition types, required documents, processing times, fees, and the pros and cons of submitting Form I-140. Follow the USCIS instructions carefully and ensure that you submit a complete and accurate petition with all necessary evidence. This can help you get your Form I-140 approved and bring you closer to achieving your dream.

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