Immigration attorneys are often asked by former clients about the I-140 petition for their foreign workers. Known officially as I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, it is a document employers can file with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in support of a foreign worker becoming a permanent resident.
How much do you know about this petition? Like almost everything else involving the USCIS, there are certain rules and guidelines that apply to the I-140 petition. You need to know all the ins and outs, similar to fully understanding the H-1B visa process.
Temporary Work Visas
Most work visas issued by the USCIS are temporary in nature. They do not give foreign workers permanent status. Upon expiration, a work visa needs to be renewed. But note that it cannot be renewed indefinitely. If a foreign worker wishes to stay in the U.S. permanently, that person must apply for permanent resident status or become a citizen.
The former option is made possible with the I-140 petition. This is a form completed by an employer and submitted to the USCIS on behalf of the employee in question. Submitting the form is the very first step in granting the individual permanent resident status.
In order for a worker to be eligible for permanent status, they must be part of one of the following five worker groups:
- EB-1: Priority Workers.
- EB-2: Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability.
- EB-3: Skilled Workers, Professionals, or Other Workers.
- EB-4: Special Immigrants.
- EB-5: Investors.
This particular qualification is not usually a problem for workers already in the country on an H-1B visa. It can be problematic for workers on other types of visas. However, that is a topic for another blog post.
Employers Must Support the Petition
Employers should also be aware that filing the I-140 will not be enough on its own. Rules require that the petition be supported with a variety of documents. For example, it is assumed that the employer wants to offer the foreign worker a permanent placement job. The employer would submit a copy of a job offer with the petition.
Additional documents are required to prove the following:
- The employer has the ability to pay the prevailing wage.
- The worker possesses the proper qualifications for the job.
- The foreign worker’s employment will not negatively impact U.S. citizens.
The last qualification could be the most difficult of all to prove. For example, an employer may have to demonstrate that there are not enough U.S. workers to fill a particular role, creating the need to keep foreign workers here permanently.
It All Takes Time
Underscoring all of this is the reality that things take time with U.S. immigration. In a perfect world, reviewing a foreign worker’s I-140 petition and supporting documents could be completed within a couple of months. But there have been cases in which it takes years. We say this for the simple fact that it is wise to get the process started as soon as employer and employee decide that permanent residency is the best way to go.
In the event a foreign worker’s petition and supporting documents are approved, that individual is then queued up for an immigrant visa granting permanent status. The individual must still apply for the visa, and have one granted, to make things official.
If you employ foreign workers you would like to keep here permanently, and you need help with the I-140 petition or any other part of the process, do not hesitate to contact us. We are business immigration specialists more than capable of walking you through.