The EB-1A processing time can be anything from 6 months to a few years, with the I-140 portion of the process taking between 3 months to 1 year. This timeframe could be reduced to 15 days using Premium Processing, available for I-140 under the EB1 category. The I-485 adjustment of status portion of the process, however, is more variable, depending on factors like the submission date and the petitioner’s country of birth.
The time estimates provided do not account for the preparation of the application package, which could extend the timeline by several months.
This article aims to break down the timeline to a successful EB-1A submission, allowing you to better understand the EB1A processing time.
Preparation Time for EB-1A Submission
The preparation time for EB-1A submission varies based on individual circumstances, but here is a rough guideline to help you understand what to expect. It’s important to remember that these timelines do not account for the time necessary to prepare your application.
Understanding the EB-1A process
Dedicate a few days to a couple of weeks to fully comprehend the USCIS criteria. Utilize resources such as this website and others to help shorten this timeframe.
Strengthening your profile
You might want to enhance your profile before submitting your application, so as to increase your chances of success. The time dedicated to this step depends entirely on the applicant and their specific situation.
Strategizing your case
Outlining your strategy is an essential step. The strategy you choose will depend on your profile and background. This could take 1 to 2 weeks depending on the individual.
I think it is a great idea to start by updating your resume and adding every little detail from your own professional experience. That will help you get a better picture of where you stand before you dive any deeper into the EB1A process.
Once you have an updated and comprehesive CV you can selected what aspects of your profile are more suitable to be highlighted in your EB-1 application to help you meet all the criteria to qualify as a person of Extraordinary Ability. This also helps you to understand what evidence you will need to gather as supporting evidence, for example what letters of recommendation you will need to request.
Contacting potential recommenders
Remember that these individuals are often busy professionals, and may need a couple of reminders before they respond. Budget 1 to 3 weeks for this step.
Drafting recommendation letters
This is generally a two-fold process – drafting the letters, and getting them signed by the recommenders. Allow 2-4 weeks for this step. If you want to read more about recommendation letters, you can check this specific post about it.
Preparing the petition cover letter and collecting the necessary evidence
The cover letter, which brings all the evidence together, is the central part of the I-140 submission. Dedicate 2 to 6 weeks to this task.
Reviewing your final petition draft
This important step should take 2 to 7 days. You need to proofread your text and make sure there are no typos or mistakes. It is helpful if you can share your petition with a friend or relative so they can give you a fresh perspective on it. After that is complete, print out the petition and assemble it for submission to USCIS.
In conclusion, preparing I-140 petitions can take anywhere from 1.5 months to 5 or 6 months. Working with attorneys might not necessarily speed up your timeline – in fact, it could potentially extend it. If you want to read more about the advantages and disadvantages of hiring lawyers for your petition preparation, check out this blog post.
Want to see a sample EB-1A petition?
Download the full EB-1A application, which includes the cover letter and all of the exhibits, so you can understand how to craft your own petition!
Processing Time for I-140
This is the time the USCIS will take to issue a decision on your case, which could be approval, denial or Request for more Evidence (RFE). There are two ways to estimate how long it will take the agency to take a decision on your petition.
Estimating processing time: Method #1
The USCIS website provides an estimate of how long the processing time for EB-1A I-140 might take. Simply select “I-140” in Form, “Extraordinary Ability (E11)” under Form Category, and the appropriate service center under Field Office or Service Center.
Remember this is a conservative estimate, since USCIS gives processing times as the time it takes to complete 80% of the cases in the last six-month period.
Estimating processing time: Method #2
A more realistic estimate is to use the Historical National Medican Processing Time data that USCIS also publishes in their website. This is updated for each Fiscal Year and provides a less conservative figure because a median is the value that is in the middle of a data set. This means that 50% of the cases will take longer and 50% will take a shorter time.
Once you submit your petition, you will be able to track its status using the official USCIS website and your receipt number.
Premium Processing for EB1A
With Premium Processing for EB-1A I-140 petitions, applicants have the opportunity to have their cases decided on sooner for a fee. Under this expedited option, USCIS will provide a decision within 15 calendar days.
Processing Time for I-485
Once your I-140 is approved, if you’re already in the US, you’ll want to submit an I-485 to perform your Adjustment of Status. The processing times for this can be checked on the USCIS website, just as with the I-140 processing times. Select “I-485” in Form, “Employment-based adjustment applications” under Form Category, and choose the nearest location under Field Office or Service Center. Then click “Get Processing Time” to obtain the estimated wait time.
There are many service centers scattered across the United States, and your case will be taken up by the closest to your state after you mail your petition to a centralized location. For example, in my case I lived near Boston so the adjustment of status case was assigned to the Boston Service Center.
Additional Wait Based on Country of Origin: The Priority Date
The priority date for a green card is the date when your green card application is first filed. If you’re from a country with a high number of green card applicants, like India or China, you may have to wait until your priority date becomes current before you can receive your green card.
To determine whether your priority date is current, you’ll need to refer to the Visa Bulletin published monthly by the Department of State and USCIS. If your priority date is before the date listed in the bulletin for your country of birth and green card category, then your priority date is current, and you can proceed with the I-485 application.
Keep in mind that the backlog for these countries can result in additional wait times.
Request for Evidence (RFE) and Its Impact on Processing Time
An RFE is a request issued by USCIS to petitioners for residency, citizenship, family visas, and employment visas who submitted applications that are lacking in certain information or documentation.
If you receive an RFE during the EB-1A process, it will likely delay the processing time. How long this delay will be is highly variable and depends on the nature of the evidence requested and how quickly you can provide it. We will cover RFEs in a separate blog post.
As you can see, the EB-1A processing time varies greatly based on many different factors. From the preparation of the application to the final approval, the total timeframe can range from several months to several years. The most crucial element to remember is to thoroughly prepare your application to ensure the best chance of approval.
Always keep in mind that every case is unique, and the timelines provided here are just guidelines. The process might take less time for some applicants and more for others, depending on the individual’s unique circumstances.
For personalized advice, consider consulting with an immigration attorney who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.