The Key to Employment-Based Immigration: Form I-140 Explained

What is Form I-140?

Form I-140, officially known as the “Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker,” is a document used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to petition for the immigration of foreign workers to the United States based on employment. This form is typically filed by U.S. employers on behalf of foreign nationals who are seeking to obtain lawful permanent resident status (a green card) in the United States.

Key points about Form I-140:

  • Purpose: The primary purpose of Form I-140 is to establish that there is a valid job offer from a U.S. employer for a foreign worker in a specific employment-based immigrant category.
  • Employment Categories: Form I-140 is typically used for various employment-based immigrant categories, including but not limited to:
    • EB-1: Priority Workers (for individuals with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors or researchers, and certain multinational managers or executives).
    • EB-2: Workers with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability.
    • EB-3: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers.
    • EB-4: Certain Special Immigrants (e.g., religious workers, broadcasters, and certain Afghan and Iraqi translators).
  • Priority Date: The filing of Form I-140 establishes a priority date for the foreign worker, which can be important for determining when they can apply for adjustment of status (green card application) or when they can obtain an immigrant visa if they are outside the United States.
  • Employer Sponsorship: Typically, the employer must sponsor the foreign worker by filing Form I-140 on their behalf. The employer must demonstrate that they have a legitimate job opening and meet certain labor certification or exemption requirements.
  • Documentation: When filing Form I-140, the petitioner (the U.S. employer) must provide supporting documentation to establish that the foreign worker meets the eligibility criteria for the specific employment-based category.
  • Concurrent Filing: In some cases, the foreign worker may be eligible to file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) concurrently with the Form I-140, if a visa number is immediately available in their category.

The approval of Form I-140 is a significant step in the employment-based immigration process, as it is a prerequisite for many foreign nationals to eventually obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States. However, the specific requirements and procedures for filing Form I-140 may vary depending on the immigrant category and the circumstances of the petitioner and beneficiary. It’s important to consult with an immigration attorney or review the USCIS website for the most up-to-date information and guidance on filing Form I-140.

How to prepare Form I-140 application

Preparing Form I-140, the “Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker,” involves several steps, and the specific requirements can vary depending on the employment-based immigrant category and the individual circumstances of the petitioner and beneficiary. Here is a general overview of how to prepare an I-140 application:

  • Determine Eligibility:
    • Identify the appropriate employment-based immigrant category for the foreign worker based on their qualifications and the job offer. Common categories include EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, and EB-4.
  • Select the Correct Form:
    • Download the most current version of Form I-140 from the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
  • Review the Instructions:
    • Carefully read the instructions provided with Form I-140. The instructions will provide detailed information on how to complete the form and what supporting documentation is required.
  • Gather Supporting Documents:
    • Collect all the required supporting documents, which may include:
      • Evidence of the petitioner’s ability to pay the beneficiary’s wage (financial documentation).
      • Evidence of the beneficiary’s qualifications and eligibility for the selected employment-based category (e.g., degrees, certificates, awards, publications).
      • Job offer letter or employment contract.
      • Labor certification, if applicable.
      • Any other documents specified in the form instructions or relevant to your specific case.
  • Complete Form I-140:
    • Fill out the form accurately and completely. Be sure to use black ink and follow the formatting guidelines specified in the form instructions.
    • Double-check all information for accuracy, including names, dates, and addresses.
    • Pay the required filing fee, if applicable. Check the USCIS website for the current fee amount and payment methods.
  • Prepare the Package:
    • Organize the application package, including the completed Form I-140 and all supporting documents, in the order specified in the form instructions.
    • If you are submitting multiple forms or petitions simultaneously (e.g., Form I-140 and Form I-485), make sure they are properly organized and labeled.
  • Mail the Application:
    • Mail the application package to the appropriate USCIS address as indicated in the form instructions. Be sure to use a trackable delivery method and retain a copy of the entire package for your records.
  • USCIS Processing:
    • USCIS will review your Form I-140 and supporting documents. This process may take several months, and USCIS may request additional evidence or documentation if necessary.
  • Await USCIS Decision:
    • USCIS will issue a decision on the I-140 petition, either approving or denying it. If approved, they will assign a priority date to the beneficiary.
  • Priority Date and Further Steps:
    • Depending on the visa bulletin and visa availability, the beneficiary may need to wait for their priority date to become current before applying for adjustment of status (Form I-485) or consular processing.

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