J1 Visa to EB1 Green Card - How to File I-140?
Updated: Dec 19, 2022
A step-by-step guide for filing I-140 for J1 visa postdocs under the EB1a category. To check if you qualify for the criteria to apply under the EB1a category, please look at the USCIS website. Or bear with me for another 5 mins and this article will help you.
Sometimes it gets really complicated to understand if you qualify for the EB1 category. Good thing, you can send your curriculum vitae (CV) for a free evaluation to the attorney and they will let you know if you qualify or not.
Related post: How to renew your Indian passport in US
Additionally, lawyers can also suggest the area where you need to work in case someone is unable to fulfill the three criteria. I have listed down some popular lawyers in my previous blog. If you are planning for the EB1 category, hiring a lawyer is a wise decision.
I was on a J1 research visa and I was working as a postdoctoral scholar at the time I started my green card application. I hired a J1 visa lawyer and they told me that I had the credentials to apply under EB1a.
Most of the attorneys do free CV/resume evaluations. Once you pay them you can create a sign-in on their portal and that‘s where you communicate with them. You can upload all the necessary documents there for the attorneys to review and ask all the questions you have.
The credentials I (link to Google Scholar) had at the time of application are listed below
Number of Publications: 47 published, 1 in submission
Citation record: 1200+
Number of papers reviewed: 21
Editorial/ Guest Editor board member: 2 Journal
Related post: Do I need a lawyer to file a J1 waiver?
These are the steps lawyers will ask you to do for the I-140 petition
Lawyers will send a summary of the contribution template and you need to fill that out.
Basically, the lawyer needs to know in plain language the outline of your research (a summary that is understandable to a non-researcher), the most significant contribution of your research, your work implemented by others, patents/ implementation of patents, awards/grants, etc. and you need to provide specific examples of everything. This will basically help the attorney to understand your work and to make a stronger case for you.
Afterward, one needs to provide a list of recommenders who are willing to recommend you. Basically, you need 1-2 dependent and 4-6 independent recommenders depending on one’s profile.
Dependent recommenders: The person who has worked with you directly.
Independent recommenders: The person with whom you have never worked or studied in the same institution and only knows you through your publications and conferences.
The recommenders should be higher than your position for example if you are a postdoc then the recommendation from another postdoc will not work, one needs to have a person who works at a reputed position in the field. In my case, I got recommenders from different countries not only from the US, which basically shows your work is recognized worldwide.
Along with the list of recommenders, you will need the recommender's CV. Once you have the recommenders the attorney will draft all the recommendation letters and upload them on the portal for you to review and get them signed by recommenders.
After the recommendation letters are ready, the lawyer will start drafting your petition letter.
A petition letter is a letter that explains your research summary, and all your achievements, and also discusses your recommendation letters in details.
Basically, the petition letter is the legal argument that says on what basis one should be given a green card. The petition letter will communicate with USCIS about your credentials and how you are fulfilling the criteria to apply for a green card. The lawyer will upload the petition letter on the portal for you to review.
Once the petition letter is finalized, then come all the forms, the lawyer will help you to fill out I-140, G28, and G1145 forms and will ask you to review and physically sign those forms.
Then you need to print out the forms and all the supporting documents and physically mail them to their respective attorneys for their final review they will include all the exhibits in your file before sending it to USCIS. Please see the list of supporting documents at the bottom.
You can also ask the lawyer to print out everything for you but it may have additional charges. In my case, the lawyer was charging 300$ therefore I decided to take the printouts and mail them to the lawyer.
After carefully reviewing all the documents the lawyer will let you know if you need any further changes in the documents or not. Once everything is finalized then they will post the documents to the USCIS.
Once the documents reach the USCIS, they send you a hard copy of the receipt notice (I-797) which will have a receipt number, which can be used to track the case here.
This is the list of supporting documents I included before posting it to a lawyer
Copy of all forms (I-140; G28 & G-1145)
Check for USCIS: 700$; if you opt for premium processing: 2500$
Copy of your highest degree (Ph.D. in my case): I had to get a degree verification certificate since I did my Ph.D. out of the US.
First three pages of all publications
Recommendation letters and Recommenders CV (first 3 pages)
Proof of peer-reviewed work (in my case "Thank you email" which I received after peer-review)
Citation record: e.g. google scholar profile
Evidence for editorial board membership
The lawyer has discussed my individual citation in the petition letter so I had to print out those articles too.
The documents I have uploaded to the attorney's portal
Passport front back and visa pages
Each case is different so if some have additional evidence they can include it too for example
Proof of media or news report
Evidence of prestigious funding
Evidence of reputed awards
Evidence of membership from a professional association
Evidence of patent and its implementation
Please keep in mind that I am not a lawyer and I took these steps in 2020 when I was on a J1 visa. The USCIS rules are subject to change hence please take a look at the USCIS website or ask an attorney for an update help. My personal recommendation is hiring an attorney is the best way since they have a lot of ideas to make your case stronger and would be able to guide you the best through legal terms. Additionally, , the lawyer has stats of each officer who get assigned to our cases by the USCIS and will be able to guide you in case if you get Request for further evidence (RFE) or notice of intent to deny (NOID).
Please watch out for my next blog on step 2 i.e. I-485 filing! Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please drop your questions in the comment section below. Thank you.
Next: Green Card (Step 2)
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