Are There Any Visa Requirements for the EB1A / NIW Self-Petition Application?
For self-petition application in NIW or EB1A categories, green card application involves two main steps I-140 application (permanent residency application) and I-485 application (adjustment of status).
In addition, anyone with virtually any visa (H1, F1, J1, etc) can self-petition (NIW or EB1A) for a permanent residency petition (I-140). In fact, you do not need to have a visa to petition an I-140. It is not even necessary to be residing in the US to apply for an I-140 petition.
If you reside outside the US, the I-485 application is filed with a consular processing option.
Special Note for F1 and J1 Holders
You should be aware of certain limitations if you are a student on an F1 visa or an exchange visitor on a J1 visa. J1 applicants need a waiver to apply for I-485. Both J1 and F1 are granted to applicants with nonimmigrant intent.
Since the I-140 application implies immigration intent, they may not be able to extend their visas or EAD (Employment Authorization Document) after the application of the I-140. That is, if an F1 or J1 holder applies for an extension of their visa or an EAD USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) can deny it.
It is safer to apply on F1 or J1 if you expect both I-140 and I-485 to be approved before needing any visa extensions or EAD on F1/J1. This means priority dates for the category (EB1A/NIW) and nationality should be current at the time of your application.
The priority date limitation typically applies to Indian and Chinese nationals applying in the EB2-NIW category.
Disclaimer: The contents in this web site are only for your information and are not intended to be legal advice. While many of our applicants successfully obtain their I-140 approvals, the information here should not be considered as a guarantee of your green card application outcome.