When to File for an Employment-Based Green Card: Timing an I-140 Petition

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When to File for an Employment-Based Green Card: Timing an I-140 Petition

To obtain an employment-based immigrant visa (green card) for a foreign worker, an American employer must first file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). At Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC, we have experienced employment immigration attorneys who help employers in the Chicago area to navigate the complex U.S. immigration system and obtain these employment-based green cards for their prospective foreign workers. We are based in Chicago but also take cases in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Timing as to when to file the I-140 petition is critical, especially if the employee is already in the United States. Many foreign workers already in the U.S. are usually working on temporary or nonimmigrant visas, such as H-1B. If you are in that situation, then when to file the I-140 petition is something you must carefully think about so that there is no gap in employment or running the risk of having to return to your native country so as not to violate your immigration status.

The two primary factors one must consider in filing the I-140 petition are preparation for submission and USCIS processing times. Processing of petitions and applications with USCIS was already taking a considerable amount of time, but the coronavirus pandemic added more delays. 

Timing the Preparation of USCIS Form I-140

The time it takes to prepare the I-140 petition depends on what green-card category under which the I-140 petition is filed.

If your I-140 petition is based on the Alien of Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Researcher or Professor, or National Interest Waiver category, nearly all your time will be used to collect documents to satisfy the evidentiary requirements for obtaining a green card on these grounds.

The evidence required for all three of these categories is nearly all based on professional and academic accomplishments. You should already have many of these documents in your files, but to be successful, you should include several support letters written by experts in your field. Collecting these expert letters will take the most time because many qualified experts have busy schedules, so keep that in mind.

It’s impossible to predict with precision how long all this preparation will take, but a safe estimate is a few months.

If your I-140 petition is based on a category that requires a labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL), then you must factor this in as to when the I-140 will be filed. The labor certification is done by the employer, and this process is taking about 7.5 months as of March 2023.

USCIS Processing Times of Form I-140

How long it takes USCIS to decide on I-140 petitions depends on what service center the petition is filed at and under what category it’s filed. You can check these processing times here.

If the category you are filing under is eligible, you can request premium processing for the I-140 petition, which means your petition will be processed within 15 calendar days. Please note there are preliminary steps an employer must take before premium processing kicks in.

To make sure you are doing everything right and to avoid unnecessary denial of your I-140 petition, seek help from Kriezelman Burton & Associate, LLC. Please contact our office today and schedule an appointment to discuss your situation.