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As part of the green card permanent residency petition, there are steps you must take to gain lawful status for your residency in the United States.
While there are ways to self-sponsor yourself to gain permanent resident status like through a spouse or family, for the majority of immigrants looking for immigrant visas through employment, you need to be sponsored by your employer. The place you will be employed needs to fill out form I-140 on behalf of you to legally work and live in the United States.
Below, you will find everything you need to know about the form I-140 and its form I-140’s eligibility requirements.
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What is Form I-140?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created the I-140 form as a method for foreigners to apply for a visa and work in the country. The form, which is entitled the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, must be filled out for employers to hire foreign workers who do not seek other options, such as familial connections, to work and live in the United States.
While there are a few different priorities to who can get into the country based upon their work, which we will get to, it is important to note that foreign nationals must have a considerable amount of excellent work history or skill.
Basically, the idea behind that is that the U.S.A. wants and will give top priority to people who show they have extraordinary skill in their line of work. To add another facet, if there is a lack of American employees for a particular position that isn’t necessarily extraordinary, the I-140 form can be used for them, too.
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Form I-140 Eligibility Requirements
From here on it, a “petitioner” will be the employer that fills out the I-140 form on behalf of the immigrant, and the immigrant will be termed as the “beneficiary.”
As previously mentioned, there are certain priority orders given to spectacular workers that offer high skills through form I-140. Only one of the following categories must be met to apply for the I-140 form.
EB-1: This category refers to foreigners with extraordinary skills and is renowned in their field for their work in the interest of form I-140. Some possible positions for this are university professors with an incredible track record or a high-ranking business official that operates in many countries.
Sidenote: The EB-1 visa category has sub-categories. The EB-1A is for workers with extraordinary skills, the EB-1B is for outstanding foreign researchers or professors, and the EB-1C is for managers and executives from multinational corporations.
EB-2: This category does not require the same high standards set by an EB-1, but it still sets a high bar for most. This professional beneficiary will be required to hold an advanced degree or a bachelor’s degree with five years of experience in their industry after acquiring the advanced degree. They can also be a foreign national with “exceptional ability.”
EB-3: The beneficiary in this category must have a minimum of a U.S. or foreign equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. They must also be a skilled alien worker with at least two years of experience in their field
Approximately 85.8% of every employee-based green card is based in the upper three categories, but there are two more underused specialties.
EB-4: This category applies to special immigrants, and most of them are religious workers, broadcasters, and other sparsely-used designations looking for permanent residence.
EB-5: This category applies to foreign investors planning to bring capital gain and create jobs in the United States.
There are two ways that foreigners can self-sponsor themselves for an employment-based green card. If an alien has extraordinary ability and skills, like a professional athlete, they can attempt to petition for themselves without any employer. This falls under EB-1A.
People who receive a National Interest Waiver, which would mean their being in the U.S.A. would benefit the country, can apply as well, hence the national interest title. This applies to EB-2.
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What Evidence Must Be Submitted with Form I-140?
As with pretty much any government-mandated form, you’ll need to provide supporting evidence along with the submission of your form I-140. While there are some differences depending on what category you fit in, it’s pretty much as follows.
For a visa category that doesn’t require a labor certification, the petitioner must submit proof of the ability of the alien worker. Examples of proof of this ability include an award that the employee received for their work in the field or a publication that highlights the foreign employee’s extraordinary ability.
For petitions requiring a labor certification, the certification must be filed with and approved by the U.S. Department of Labor prior to the submission of Form I-140.
The main two initial evidence waves regard labor certification and proof of extraordinary ability. In general, it may feel like you are applying for the same job again.
Most of the time, a certificate of labor must be submitted as a form for initial evidence. The foreign worker's labor certification must be submitted during the form I-140’s 180-day validity period.
If a labor certification is not sent, then the government will deny the I-1440 unless the petitioner shows that they had an exception. If this labor certification is required, it needs to be approved and filed with the U.S. Department of Labor before the I-140 is submitted.
The petitioner also has to show off their benefactor’s extraordinary ability. This can include awards the employee received for work or, in the case of a professor, a showing of their work in a well-renowned journal.
General evidence means exactly what you would expect it to mean.
The petitioner or employer needs to submit their financial information and proof that they can pay the visa holder beneficiary what they have been offered as well as the petitioner’s proof of education and work experience.
How to Complete Form I-140
The USCIS website is the main hub for any document you need to fill out. Form I-140 is there, too, in a PDF form. Using a PDF editor, you can fill most of the sections out with printed black ink. Do not download and submit a PDF form from any other website except for the official USCIS site.
If you’d prefer access to the form without internet access, you can obtain the form by contacting the USCIS at 1-800-975-5283 and asking a customer service representative to mail a form directly to you.
After downloading the PDF or receiving the form through the mail, you will need to fill it out with either blank ink by hand or by typing in answers on the computer. You will need to sign the form with photocopied, faxed, or scanned copies of original, handwritten signatures. Along with the submission of the I-140, all your evidence should be submitted with it.
You should almost always submit photocopies, not originals, of necessary documents requested by the USCIS. However, you may come to understand that the USCIS wants an original copy. In that situation, the group will send it back. It will not send back what it believes is a copied version, so be careful.
If there is any document written in a language other than English, it must be accompanied with a full translation with a signature, printed name, date and contact information from the translator
Any questions that do not apply to you can be answered with “N/A” or “Not Applicable,” and if a numerical answer is zero, enter the word “none,” not “0.”
You must answer every question with completeness and accuracy. If you need extra space to complete longer answers, use the “Additional Information” section (Part 11) on the form, or you can attach a separate piece of paper with your name and Alien Registration Number (if applicable). The page must include a page, part, and item number that corresponds with the question being answered, and it needs to be signed and dated.
Lastly, after submission, you may have to attend and complete a biometric appointment to confirm your identity, especially if you have never gone through this process before. Even then, you also might need to attend a meeting with a USCIS officer for additional information.
It’s a lot, but it’s all-important for completeness.
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Industry and Occupation Codes
Two types of industry and occupation codes might be asked for throughout the process.
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code can be obtained through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau. If a code is fewer than the number of spaces given, typically six, begin typing or writing the code in the left of the space provided followed by zeros in remaining spaces.
The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System code can be obtained through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Like the NAICS code, if your code contains fewer digits than the space allows for, start typing or writing the code to the left in the space provided followed by zeros in remaining spaces.
Petitioner and Authorized Signatory
Anyone and everyone who worked on the form’s submission must sign and provide contact information for their work. That means the petitioner, the authorized signatory, the translator, and anyone else who helped with its submission. Remember, only handwritten signatures are accepted.
Form I-140 Immigrant Petition Filing Fee
To file form I-140, you must fork over $700 along with the documents and forms required as-is. Without it, it will be rejected. Unfortunately, this filing fee is non-refundable.
You need to pay with either a check or money order made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and it cannot be abbreviated.
Filing Address for Form I-140
If you are filing the I-140 without any supporting documents, you can send the form to one of these addresses:
If by USPS: USCIS Attn: I-140 P.O. Box 660128 Dallas, Texas 75266
If by UPS, FedEx or DHL: USCIS Attn: I-140 2501 S. State Highway 121 Business Suite 400 Lewisville, Texas 75067
If you are filing along with supporting documents, send it to one of these addresses:
If by USPS: USCIS P.O. Box 660867 Dallas, Texas 75266
If by UPS, FedEx or DHL: USCIS Attn: NFB AOS 2501 S. State Highway 121 Business Suite 400 Lewisville, Texas 75067
File Form I-140 Premium Processing Fee
There are certain conditions that make it possible to get the I-140 immigrant petition form processed quickly, known as Premium Processing. You will need to fill out Form I-907, which is the Request for Premium Processing Service form.
The only people who are eligible for Premium Processing are:
Foreigners with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives and managers who fit into EB-1 can get Premium Processing
Members of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability not seeking a foreign National Interest Waiver to file the Form I-140 immigrant petition from EB-2
A skilled alien worker, professional or worker outside of those two categories from EB-3
If you meet requirements spelled out by the USCIS, you can pay an extra $1,410 to receive an approval or denial, a notice of intent to deny, a request for further evidence, or a notice that a request to open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation has been made via Premium Processing.
If the USCIS does not process the form within 15 days, it will refund your $1,410 fee and still work to process it on an expedited schedule. This cost is on top of the $700 filing fee as well.
How Long Does USCIS Take to Process and Approve Form I-140?
While there is no set date that the I-140’s status will come out, if you hear nothing after a four-month period, contact the USCIS to check the status of your application.
On average, it takes around six months fully for processing.
Form I-140 Isn't As Intimidating As You Think
While many intricacies need to be considered when applying for the I-140 immigrant petition form, it can be a relatively straightforward status. Usually, employers who submit I-140s have done so before and understand the basis of the progress.
If you are the beneficiary, it can be a harrowing process, but with the help of this guide through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ maze, it might not feel as overbearing as it once was.