Next Steps After Approval
Once an I-140 petition is approved, the beneficiary and their employer must decide on the best course of action to proceed towards lawful permanent residency. This typically involves either adjusting status within the United States or applying for a visa through consular processing abroad.
Adjustment of Status Filings
Individuals who are currently in the United States can file for an Adjustment of Status (AOS) through Form I-485 to become a lawful permanent resident. This step is contingent on the availability of a visa number. The applicant must ensure they have a valid nonimmigrant status until their AOS application is filed. Once the I-485 is filed, the applicant can remain in the country legally, even after the expiration of their nonimmigrant status, while their application is processed.
For those outside the United States or who opt not to adjust their status within the U.S., consular processing is available. This requires the approved I-140 beneficiary to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country. Upon approval, the beneficiary can then enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
Visa Bulletin and Priority Dates
The U.S. Department of State issues a monthly Visa Bulletin that provides the latest priority dates for visa availability. Beneficiaries must compare their priority date—the date when their employer filed the I-140—with the dates listed in the Visa Bulletin. If their priority date is before the date listed for their visa category and country, they can proceed with the AOS filing or consular processing.