In this blog post, we will cover how to assemble the I-140 petition for EB2 NIW. This can be especially interesting for those of you thinking about a do-it-yourself petition. It includes what documents comprise the petition, how to organize them, how to physically bind the application together, and the process of mailing it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Below is a list of documents that I included with my I-140 petition. Section A (Forms and Fee) constitute the part dictated by USCIS guidelines – see their current I-140 instructions at the time you prepare your application. Section B is the cover letter, which we went over in a different blog post. Then, what is left is all the Exhibits enclosed to the petition as supportive evidence
Forms and Fee
Find the forms in the official source, to make sure they are current and that you follow the official instructions. Form I-140 can be found in the USCIS website and Form ETA-9089 is in the Department of Labor website (but needs to be included in the I-140 petition), and NOT sent to the Department of Labor.
You can check the amount needed for the Fee and the method of payment in the I-140 website. When I filed the cost was $700 and they accepted check or money orders, but not cash or card payments.
The Cover letter was already discussed in a separate blog post.
The type of Exhibits you include will depend on your case. You can check out the exact Exhibits I had in my I-140 petition by downloading my package or joining my EB2 NIW online course for DIY applicants. Everything you discuss in your cover letter has to be included as Exhibit!
Examples of documents to establish education
- Diplomas and transcripts from Universities
- Credential evaluation reports
Examples of documents to demonstrate achievements
- Curriculum Vitae, updated and complete
- Proof of awards, grants, prizes, or scholarships
- Evidence of membership in professional organizations, especially if they have requirements for accepting members, such as achievements in the field
- Proof of having reviewed the work of others, for example e-mails confirming participation as a judge in a professional competition, or e-mails confirming having reviewed peer-reviewed papers.
- Evidence of being invited to give professional talks at events or conferences
- List of publications and citations. This is especially important for researchers. They can include a screenshot of webs like Google Scholar
- List of patents or patent applications
- Copies of mentions of your work in any type of regional or national media (newspapers, TV, websites…)
- Recommendation letters from experts in your field
Examples of documents to substantiate national importance
- Government press releases discussing the topic
- Copies of laws, bills, or acts focusing on the problem you can help solving
- Copies of scientific literature discussing the issues you work on
- Copies of news highlighting the importance of the topic of your work
Examples of documents concerning your employment status
- Offer letter from your company
- Promotion letters
- W-2 forms
- Recent 3 paychecks
Examples of documents regarding your nonimmigrant status (and of your dependents)
- Copy of passport(s)
- Copy of any present and past visa pages
- Copy of any present and past documents related to visas (such as I-797 for H-1B visas or I-20 for F-1 visa)
- Copy of any present or past EAD cards (for example a student on OPT)
- Copy of current and previous I-94 – get it in the official source
- US Travel History – get it in the official source
Translations and Credential Evaluations
Some documents that you may want to include as Exhibits may be in languages other than English. You need to provide a copy of the document along with a certified translation.
In addition, if your university degrees are from abroad, you will need to obtain a credential evaluation report. This report informs the USCIS officer of what is the US equivalent degree, and sometimes has information about the university, department, requirements for the degree, etc.
Use of cover pages to organize the document
The I-140 petition can be very lengthy when we add all the sections together. Mine, for example, was over 200 pages! My recommendation is that you introduce each section with a cover page. Each cover page may contain:
- Petitioner/Beneficiary name
- “Petition I-140, EB-2 National Interest Waiver – INA §203(b)(2)(B)
- Contents placed below the cover page, for example: “Forms and Fee”, or “Exhibit 1: Letters of Recommendation”.
Remember that the purpose of everything we do is to have a strong case but also a case that is easy to go over and understand. The cover pages can help the USCIS officer to navigate the document easily.
You can decide how many cover pages you need. In my case I even used cover pages to organize sub-sections. For example, in the Letters of Recommendation section I had one overall cover page and then one more for each of the six reference letters I included. However, I did not have a separate cover page for the letter and the CV from the recommender. It is up to you to determine what makes sense.
In addition, you can have a footer on each cover page with your name and the green card category (EB-2 NIW).
You can see all this in detail if you decide to download my I-140 petition available in this website or join my online EB2 NIW course, which also includes my petition and detailed lectures on how to build yours. In the meantime, to give you an example here, I reproduced one of my cover pages from the I-140 petition I submitted to USCIS:
Assemble the physical copy of the I-140 petition
Once you are done proofreading everything, it is time to print all the documents. Lay all the sections on the floor and start organizing the petition by placing the documents of each section beneath the appropriate cover page.
Scan the final hard copy for your records
Once you have double checked that everything is in order, it is important that you scan the whole petition as is. This will be your electronic copy for your records. Remember that USCIS will not return the petition to you. It is a good idea to retain an exact replica of what you mailed them so you can have it handy in case there is an RFE (Request for Evidence) or to take with you to the interview once you obtain your approval.
Use a 2-prong fastener to secure the petition
The I-140 petition is long and may be difficult to handle unless properly secured. You cannot just use paper clips or the like, because you can’t risk the petition falling apart during shipment or during review by the officer.
A simple solution is to use a 2-hole punch on the top portion of the pages, and the secure them all using a prong fastener. These can be found on Amazon or in your local office supply store.
When deciding what hole punch to buy consider how many pages at a time they can handle, so you do not have to do too many rounds of punching. Similarly, when deciding on fasteners, take a look at how many inches of document thickness they can hold.
Use sticky notes to mark the beginning of each section
At the bottom of the document, mark each section using sticky tabs. This is to facilitate the work of the USCIS officer. Of course, you have a List of Documents and Table of Contents at the beginning of the petition, but this is just extra help, so they do not have a hard time moving back and forth through the document.
The picture below shows my application with the sticky tabs at the bottom, and an AAA battery for reference to show how thick the petition was.
Protect the petition from damage during shipping
Before you mail the petition, be sure to add a couple of layers of protection.
If you want, you could add a plastic sheet on top of the main cover page, to add some more protection. I did not do this, but it is an option to consider.
I did put the whole petition inside a filing folder (as shown in the picture above).
Then, when I put the petition inside a mailing box, I made sure it could not bounce around. Be sure to use the right size for your box, and if needed, add some packing peanuts or some other type of material that fills the space. This may be a bit annoying for the USCIS staff when they open the box, so it is better to just make sure the size of the shipping box is right.
Mailing and proof of delivery
Mail the petition to the appropriate USCIS address (the address will vary depending on a few factors; as usual make sure to check the official USCIS instructions).
When I mail an important document such as this one, I make sure I request tracking information to get proof of delivery. That way I am absolutely sure the petition made it to the right address and was received.
A few days later you should receive a letter from USCIS confirming receipt and providing a case number. This will be useful to track the status of your petition in the USCIS website.
After submitting the petition and receiving the case number, all you have to do is wait.
USCIS could send you a Request for Evidence (RFE) if they feel they need more information about a certain aspect of your petition. Make sure your address is always up to date and you inform USCIS if you move, to avoid missing any important notification such as an RFE. In a separate blog post I discussed how to respond to an RFE, in case you want to be proactive and have a general understanding of what it would take.
If you applied from the US the next step after approval will be an Adjustment of Status. This is out of the scope of this post, but there will be separate materials covering this portion of the process.
If you applied from abroad, you will not use an Adjustment of Status, but Consular Processing. You would have specified that option in your I-140 form and selected the appropriate consulate in your country of residence (as of July 2022 this is Part 4 of the form I-140). You will be notified when it is your turn to attend an interview in the US Consulate.