HomeResourcesForm I-140, an In-Depth Guide
December 16th 2019

Form I-140, an In-Depth Guide

With Form I-140, U.S. employers can start the process of hiring non-U.S. citizen workers.

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Form I-140, in a nutshell

With Form I-140 (also called the “Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers”), U.S. employers can hire non-U.S. citizen workers and, in the process, help them become permanent residents of the United States. As indicated in the instructions for filing, the petitioner (who is often a U.S. employer) may sponsor several different types of workers (also known as beneficiaries), including outstanding professors or researchers, former managers or executives of multinational firms, and professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities.

In the remainder of this guide, we’ll provide a detailed overview of Form I-140, including:

  1. Filing Fees

  2. Processing Times

  3. Eligibility Criteria

  4. Evidentiary Requirements

  5. Filing Process

  6. The Takeaway

Filing Fees

It costs $700 to file Form I-140. This fee is nonrefundable and must be paid with a credit card, personal check, money order, or cashier’s check – but definitely not with cash. To pay with a credit card, the petitioner will need to use Form G-1450 (also called the “Authorization for Credit Card Transactions”). 

The petitioner can use the handy tool provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to calculate filing fees.

Processing Times

The amount of time it will take to process Form I-140 depends on a number of factors. According to USCIS’ processing times tool, a petition submitted to the Nebraska Service Center on the basis of an EB-1 Extraordinary Ability visa would take about 20 months to process (at the time of writing). 

But the Texas Service Center would process a petition for an EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher visa in only 12 months (again, at the time of writing). 

For information about premium processing, skip to the section entitled “Filing Process.” 

Eligibility Criteria

Before a U.S. employer can submit the Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, they must first be sure that the prospective employee is qualified to receive either the EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 visas. In this section, we’ll define the eligibility criteria for each of these.

EB-1: Extraordinary Ability and Other Classifications

To qualify for an EB-1 visa, the beneficiary must fall into 1 of 3 categories:

Manager or executive for a multinational firm who intends to continue working for that company (or one of its subsidiaries) once in the United States. It’s important that, at some point during the 3 years prior to filing this petition, the beneficiary worked for the employer for a minimum of 1 year. 

An Outstanding Professor or Researcher who has taught or conducted research for 3 years at a University or similar institution. The researcher or professor must also be able to show, with sufficient evidence, that they are globally recognized in their discipline and that they already have an offer of employment from a university, private-sector company, or institution of higher education. They may, for example, be hired as:

  • A tenured professor

  • Tenure-track teacher

  • A researcher of similar stature

A professional with an extraordinary ability displayed in one of the following domains:

  • Athletics

  • Education

  • Sciences

  • Business

  • Arts

Those seeking an EB-1 visa on the basis of an extraordinary ability must be able to show, with substantial proof, that they have been recognized and acclaimed in their field at the national or international level and that they intend to pursue their line of work once in the United States. 

Note: No job offer is required in this case, and the beneficiary may file Form I-140 on their own behalf if they so wish.

EB-2: Exceptional Ability or Advanced Degree

To be eligible for an EB-2 visa, the prospective employee must either have an advanced degree (or, alternatively, a bachelor’s degree and 5 years of relevant experience) or an exceptional ability in 1 of the following areas:

  • Business

  • Sciences

  • Arts

Those seeking an EB-2 on the basis of an exceptional ability must also demonstrate that their expertise will be a boon to the United States’ educational, cultural, or economic interests. 

Some EB-2 visa beneficiaries may request a National Interest Waiver (NIW) to bypass the labor certification process. To do this, they must show that such a waiver would be in the United State’s national interest. 

EB-3: Skilled Workers and Other Types of Laborers

EB-3 visa beneficiaries must be either:

  • Unskilled workers who can sufficiently execute non-temporary, non-seasonal work requiring less than 2 years of experience or training

  • Professionals who have earned the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree in the relevant field

  • Skilled workers who have at least 2 years of relevant (non-seasonal, non-temporary) training or experience

Every EB-3 worker must have a full-time job offer for a permanent position, and in order to file Form I-140, the employer must obtain a labor certification.

Evidentiary Requirements

As per the Form I-140 instructions provided by USCIS, the necessary evidence must be submitted with each petition – otherwise the petitioner could face rejection or denial. In this section, we’ll provide an overview of the requisite proof.

Job-Specific Proof 

The documentation required for Form I-140 will vary depending on the job in question.

EB-1 Jobs

A petition on the basis of an extraordinary ability must include evidence that the beneficiary has achieved “sustained national or international acclaim.” It should also contain documents showing that the prospective visa holder will pursue work in their particular field upon arrival in the United States.

Similarly, for outstanding professors or researchers, the petitioner will need to submit documents substantiating the beneficiary’s international reputation, while also showing that they have taught or conducted research in their area of expertise for a minimum of 3 years. 

Petitioners filing on behalf of multinational executives or managers will need to include a statement demonstrating that the beneficiary has been employed by the company in question for a minimum of 1 year during the 3 years prior to submission.

EB-2 and EB-3 Jobs

Petitioners must include a permanent labor certification when filing on behalf of:

  • Professionals (EB-3)

  • Skilled Workers (EB-3)

  • Unskilled Workers (EB-3)

  • People with advanced degrees (EB-2)

  • People with exceptional abilities in the arts, business, or sciences (EB-2)

Petitions filed on these bases should also contain proof demonstrating that the beneficiary meets their respective visa requirements. 

Note: EB-2 applicants seeking a National Interest Waiver (EB-2 NIW) may be able to get around the labor certification requirement.

General Proof

The instructions for filing Form I-140 refer to 3 forms of “General Evidence”:

A Permanent Labor Certification

The labor certification, which is only needed for certain visa types, demonstrates that there’s a labor shortage in the relevant field and that hiring a non-U.S. employee will have no negative impact on the conditions and wages of U.S. workers.

Proof of Adequate Funds

The employer must be able to demonstrate that they can actually pay the promised salary or wage. Evidence might include:

  • Federal tax returns

  • Financial statements that have been audited

  • Internal financial reports

  • A statement written by the financial officer (when the company has at least 100 employees)

Form I-94 

When the beneficiary is already in the United States, Form I-94 (also called the “Arrival/Departure Record”)  is needed to provide information about their most recent admission into the country.

Filing Process

In this section, we’ll go step-by-step through the Form I-140 filing process. Remember, every petition will have varying requirements, depending on the circumstances, but in general, the process is as follows.

1. Obtain Permanent Labor Certification From the Labor Department

Failure to provide a labor certification when one is required will likely result in a denied petition, so it’s important to follow the directions laid out by the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). 

Before applying for a labor certification, applicants will first need to attest to their lawful intentions, complete a number of pre-filing recruitment steps, and give notice directly to U.S. employees or a union representative.  

Once these conditions are met, the applicant may complete and file ETA Form 9089 using snail mail or the online PERM system

2. Gather Required Evidence

With the certification in hand, the petitioner may now begin gathering all the documentary evidence glossed above (in the “Evidentiary Requirements” section). It’s a good idea to have all your documents ready prior to filling out the actual form, as these documents may contain necessary information. Form I-94, for example, may be needed to complete Part 3, items 10-15.

3. Complete Form I-140

The petitioner will need to include their signature, the filing fee, all the required evidence, translations of any documents not written in English, and a signed certification attesting to the translator’s competency. The certification should also state that the translation is complete and accurate. 

Copies of any documents will be accepted by USCIS unless otherwise stated. Note that the petitioner may need to attend a biometrics services appointment, at which point USCIS will collect photos and fingerprints in order to carry out background checks. 

The petitioner should be sure to respond to all the questions in a clear and forthright manner, using black ink and marking “N/A” where questions are irrelevant. If they require more space, they can use Part 11 (entitled “Additional Information”), or if need be, they can add blank sheets of paper, making sure to include: 

  • Their signature

  • The date

  • The relevant page, part, and item number

  • Their name 

  • The Alien Registration Number, if applicable

If required, the petitioner can find the relevant North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code on the U.S. Census’ website. Similarly, the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System codes are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Finally, before submitting Form I-140, the petitioner (or authorized signatory), interpreter (if any), and preparer (if different from the authorized signatory or petitioner) must add their signatures,  contact information, and the date of signing to parts 8, 9, and 10, respectively.

4. Submit Form I-140

Once all the evidence has been gathered, the form completed, and the signatures added, the petitioner may now submit Form I-140. 

USCIS Addresses

If the petitioner is filing Form I-140 concurrently with Form I-485 (also called the “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), they may send their application packet to USCIS using 1 of the 2 following methods:

Via USPS to:


Attn: NFB

P.O. Box 660867

Dallas, TX 75266-0867

Or via UPS, DHL, or FedEx to:


Attn: NFB (Box 660867)

2501 S. State Highway 121 Business

Suite 400

Lewisville, TX 75067-8003

If, on the other hand, the petitioner is only filing Form I-140, they may send it:

Via USPS to:


Attn: I-140 

P.O. Box 660128

Dallas, TX 75266-0128

Or via FedEx, UPS, or DHL deliveries to:


Attn: I-140 (Box 660128)

2501 S. State Highway 121 Business

Suite 400

Lewisville, TX 75067-8003

Premium Processing

To take advantage of premium processing, the petitioner must file Form I-907 together with Form I-140. For an added fee of $2,500, USCIS will expedite the processing of Form I-140, promising to complete within 45 days their review of the following visa types: 

  • Managers and executives working for multinational firms (EB-1) 

  • People with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities applying for an NIW (EB-2 NIW)

USCIS officers will, for the same fee, make a decision within 15 days for the following classifications:

  • Skilled workers (EB-3)

  • Unskilled workers (EB-3)

  • Professionals (EB-3)

  • People demonstrating extraordinary abilities (EB-1)

  • Outstanding researchers and professors (EB-1)

  • People with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities not applying for an NIW (EB-2)

If they fail to provide a response within the established time frame, USCIS will refund the money while still accelerating the review process. 

The Takeaway

When U.S. employers want to hire certain non-U.S. citizen (or non-permanent resident) workers, they must file Form I-140, making sure to include all the necessary evidence. Some employment-based visa categories (EB-1 Extraordinary Ability and EB-2 NIW) can file this petition without an employer sponsor. Petitioners may, if they so wish, pay an additional $2,500 fee to fast-track the filing process. 

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