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Draft the Labor Certification Carefully to Avoid Problems at the Form I-140 Step

Hi William:

My employer will file
labor certification for me soon, and will also sponsor my Green Card application later. How to draft the labor certification carefully to avoid problems at the Form I-140 application step?


The chances of the Form I-140 application success for an immigrant visa are mainly determined at the Labor Certification step. Therefore, the labor certification needs to be drafted carefully to avoid problems at the Form I-140 application step, such as the employer's "ability to pay" issue. An alien beneficiary may get Form I-140 application success if the employer is sponsoring the Green Card application from the time the labor certification is filed.

Ability to pay means a company’s ability to pay the wage listed on the labor certification to the foreign worker. Many green card applicants are under the mistaken impression that the ability to pay calculation begins only at the time of filing the Form I-140 petition. But actually, a company must demonstrate ability to pay from the time of filing the labor certification until the alien beneficiary has adjusted his or her status and become a U.S. permanent resident.

The easiest and most preferred method to demonstrate that a company has the ability to pay, and obtain an Form I-140 approval, is for the alien beneficiary to work for the company, and be paid the wage listed on the labor application from the time of the labor certification filing.

USCIS accepts only 2 forms of evidence to show the ability to pay: 1) an audited financial statement, which are time intensive and costly to prepare, especially for smaller companies, or 2) the company’s tax returns.  Either way, the net income of the company must be greater than the wage payment.

Sometimes, USCIS may send a 
Request For Evidence (RFE)  letter sending to the Form I-140 petitioner to ask for evidence of “ability to pay all”. This means the company must demonstrate its ability to pay not just the alien beneficiary, but also the wages of all other employees they have filed I-140 petitions for. For some companies, reporting a high net income on the tax return is not usually in their best interest. This can lead to Form I-140 being denied if the company does not report a net income high enough to cover the total of all pay gaps for all Form I-140s ever filed.

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