What is Form I-140?

The Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (Form I-140) is a form used for non-citizen workers petitioning to become a permanent resident in the United States. The process is initiated by U.S. employers so they can lawfully hire foreign nationals, and sponsor their work visa until they become legal permanent residents. The form can only be used for employment-based (EB) visa seekers.

Who Files Form I-140?

Though many other United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forms are completed and submitted by the foreign national seeking a visa, the I-140 form is completed and filed by the non-citizen’s prospective employer.

For the purposes of this article, the main visa categories permitted to use this form are EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3. Employment-based visa and green card beneficiaries include the following individuals, who are:

  • Researchers
  • Professors
  • Executives in multinational companies
  • Managers in multinational companies

Or, who have:

  • Advanced degrees 
  • Exceptional abilities in their profession

The hiring process is an extensive one, as it includes obtaining a labor certification, supplying the U.S. government with evidentiary proof of why the foreign worker should be hired, (and thus, why their visa should be sponsored), as well as completing, and waiting for the I-140 to be processed.

In unique situations where U.S. employers with job openings seek to hire a foreign applicant, they must first conduct a thorough search for a qualified U.S. citizen applicant, and when none are found, the sponsoring employer must then petition for a visa on their employee’s behalf –  using Form I-140.

Included in this form is the substantiation that the foreign employee has the required education, experience and overall qualifications to execute the job.

Form I-140 Eligibility

As previously mentioned, there are three main employment-based immigrant visa categories eligible for filing Form I-140. They are the following:

  • EB-1: Priority non-citizen workers, such as researchers, outstanding professors, people with extraordinary abilities in their profession, and multinational executives and managers
  • EB-2: Advanced degrees holders or  people with exceptional abilities in their profession
  • EB-3: Skilled and unskilled workers and other professionals

Eligibility Criteria

EB-1: Extraordinary Ability and Other Classifications

EB-1 petitioners are: 

  • Managers and executives in a multinational company, and
  • Will stay with their firm, or a subsidiary while they are in the U.S., and
  • Have worked for their employer for at least one year at any given time within three years prior to the submission of the I-140

Such professions include:

  • Arts
  • Athletics
  • Business
  • Education
  • Sciences

It is important to note, EB-1 visa applicants can petition on their own behalf, as well as file Form I-140 themselves.

EB-2: Exceptional Ability or Advanced Degree

These individuals must give supporting evidence that their work and skills benefit the U.S. in either culture, economics or education.

EB-2 petitioners are: 

  • Holders of a Master’s or Doctorate’s degree, or
  • A bachelor’s degree along with five years of experience in their field, or 
  • An individual with exceptional ability

Such professions include:

  • Arts
  • Business
  • Sciences

EB-3: Skilled Workers and Other Types of Laborers

EB-3 petitioners are: 

  • Non-temporary and non-seasonal unskilled workers
  • Professionals with a U.S. Bachelor’s (or its foreign equivalent) in the related field
  • Skilled workers with two or more years of relevant and directly-related training or experience

Note, EB-3 applicants are required to have a full-time job offer for a permanent position, from a U.S.-based company before proceeding with the petition process. The sponsoring employer files Form I-140 after obtaining a Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

EB-1 and the I-140

These individuals must give supporting evidence that they are top members of their fields, with sustained national or international acclaim, and with achievements recognized by others in their professions. Furthermore, they must give proof of how their work benefits the U.S. in art, science, education, athletics, or business.

Outstanding professors or researchers are required to include supporting documentation of their international reputation, as well as proof they have either conducted research or taught in their field for at least three years.

Entities filing on behalf of multinational executives or managers are required to include a testimony that the manager or executive has been employed by the firm for at least one year during the three years immediately preceding the application.

EB-2 and EB-3

Sponsoring employers filing on behalf of advanced degree holders, people with exceptional abilities, skilled and unskilled workers, as well as other professionals, are required to include a permanent labor certification and evidence that the EB-2 or EB-3 applicant satisfies all visa prerequisites.

General Evidence For Form I-140

Permanent Labor Certification

A Permanent Labor Certification, also known as PERM, is a process administered by the DOL to verify that there aren’t any qualified American applicants available for an open job listing before a given sponsoring employer can hire an EB foreign worker. When the labor certification is received, the foreign national can proceed with their green card application, both to become a lawful U.S. resident, and to continue working in his or her field while they are in the U.S.

Proof of Adequate Funds

The sponsoring employer must be able to demonstrate that they can pay the promised salary or wage. Such evidence includes the following:

  • Tax returns at the Federal level
  • Audited financial statements
  • Internal financial reports
  • A statement written by the company’s financial officer – if there are more than 100 employees

Form I-94 and Supporting Documents

Foreign nationals must retain their Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) once lawfully admitted into the U.S., as it is documentation of his or her latest admission into the country.

Additionally, and generally, information regarding the beneficiary, their employer, and their job are required to be submitted along with their I-94. This includes his or her valid passport, current work visa status, resume or CV, education qualifications, letters of recommendation, as well as documentation of applicable work experience. The sponsoring employer must also submit a full job description, Labor Certification form, and demonstration that they are able to hire and supervise the prospective employee.

I-140 Filing Process

  1. Complete all pre-filing recruitment steps and and give notice directly to U.S. employees or a union representative 
  2. File the Application for Permanent Employment Certification (Form 9089)
  3. Obtain a Permanent Labor certification from the DOL
  4. Gather the Required Evidence (as outline above)
  5. Complete Form I-140
  6. Submit Form I-140

It is important to note, a biometrics services appointment may be required of the foreign national, where copies of their fingerprints will be obtained, as well as an initiation of his or her background check.

I-140 Processing Times

I-140 processing times vary depending on the beneficiary’s category, the depth of the case, the amount of applicants received by the USCIS, and their current workload. This can take one to two years, but could be more, however up-to-date I-140 processing times can be found on the USCIS Case Processing Times website.

I-140 Premium Processing

Foreign nationals eligible for I-140 Premium Processing can request an expedited form processing which takes 15-45 calendar days. Most EB-1 and EB-3 cases are reviewed and completed within 15 calendar days. However, EB-1 managers and executives, and EB-2 NIW petitioners should expect the review to take the full 45 calendar days.

The cost for this option is $2,500, and petitioners should ensure they have also file the Request for Premium Processing Service (Form I-907).

I-140 Details

  • Edition Date: 05/31/22. (forms are dated in the mm/dd/yy format)
  • When to File: Before the Labor Certification expires, or within the 180-day validity period
  • Where to File: Texas, though the address depends on if the I-40 is accompanied by another form
  • Filing Fee: $700

I-140 Submission Tips

  • Answer all questions, and ensure all sections are complete (unless the form specifies for a section to be skipped)
  • Sign the form only in the appropriate space provided for the beneficiary’s signature
  • Only use the current edition of the form(s)
  • Forms submitted online must not also be mailed 
  • Use black ink when filled out by hand
  • Ensure form edition dates and page numbers are visible (at the bottom of the pages)
  • Do not use correction fluid or tape 
  • Send separate payments for each application
  • When paying by check or money order, write the form being filed, along with the A-Number (when applicable) or other identification number
  • Write nature of the submission on the envelope (as well as the cover letter)
  • Use binders or folders that are easy to disassemble
  • Use fasteners or heavy clips to hold together thick applications, rather than heavy-duty staples
  • Two-hole punch the top of the materials when possible 
  • place the tabs on the bottom of the page, not the side. 
  • Use sticky tabs at the bottom of the pages (not the side) which mark the items listed as attachments
  • Attach E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (Form G-1145) to the first page of the form, when applicable 

The packet should be assembled in the following order:

  1. Check or money order
  2. Authorization for Credit Card Transactions (Form G-1450), if applicable
  3. Request for e-Notification (Form G-1145), if applicable
  4. Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28), if applicable
  5. The form being filed
  6. Supplemental documents, when applicable
  7. All supporting documents

Further instructions can be found on the USCIS Tips for Filing Forms by Mail website, including application mailing. Instructions for Form I-140 can also be found on the USCIS I-140 website.

It is important to note, the USCIS officer processing the forms will reject incomplete or unsigned forms.

Electronic Communications 

Applicants who wish to receive electronic communications such as a text message or an email, with an update that their form has been accepted at a USCIS lockbox, it is crucial to complete a G-1145.

FAQs For What Is Form I-140

Who completes and files Form I-140?

United States sponsoring employers complete and file Form I-140 with the USCIS.

How long does it take to process form I-140?

Depending on the complexity of the case, it can take between one and two years. Electing for the Premium Processing option will reduce this time to 15-45 days.

How can I check my I-140 case status?

All case statuses can be checked on the USCIS Case Status Online website. Petitioners must have their Receipt Number in order to check the status of his or her case.

When can I apply for permanent residence after my I-140 has been filed?

Upon I-140 approval, foreign nationals can apply for a green card. Some can even file an I-485 at the same time as their U.S.-based employer files the I-140.

What do I do if I lose my job after my employer filed my I-140?

The foreign national may still be able to find a new job – depending on how long their green card application has been pending. If it has been more than 180 days since the application date, and if is in the same field, he or she may be able to just move laterally to the new position. If it has been less than 180 days, the new sponsoring employer may have to submit a new Labor Certification and new I-140.

Conclusion of What is Form I-140?

In conclusion, Form I-140 is a nine-page form which outlines not only information about the proposed beneficiary, but detailed information about the employer and the role the beneficiary will ultimately fill. It is reserved exclusively for employment-based visa seekers, such as individuals within the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 subcategories. It is a vital component for non-citizen workers who seek a lawful and permanent place in the U.S. workplace. 

The I-140 is initiated by a prospective U.S. sponsoring employer, and is to be accompanied by all supporting evidence surrounding the worker and their employer.

The entire process around the I-140 can take a year or two, but can be expedited to as little as 15-45 days (with an additional fee.)