What exactly is an EB-1A Green Card?
Extraordinary Ability (EA) is a subset of the EB-1 Employment-Based Green Card (EB1 Green card) category. A “tiny number of those who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor” are eligible for EA. To be eligible for the EB-1A category, an individual must be a leader in at least one of the following fields:
The candidate must aim to stay in the same field and indicate how their expertise would benefit the United States. If you are unsure if you qualify for the outstanding ability group, it is preferable to consult an immigration attorney.
Under the first preference EB category you can find three subcategories designed for different applicants:
|EB-1 Visa (3 Categories)||People who can apply|
|EB1-A||Foreigners who are very good in the sciences, arts, education, business, or sports can get a green card.|
|EB1-B||Outstanding professors or researchers|
|EB1-C||Selected executives and/or managers of multinational companies|
The processing of EB1 green card applications is subjected to heavy scrutiny by USCIS.
To be eligible for the EB-1A, an applicant must be:
- Capable of demonstrating exceptional talent in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
- Reputable in your field, with verifiable proof of the applicant’s accomplishments.
- Continue working in your recognized field.
- Acquire national or worldwide recognition.
The chart below shows the EB1 Green Card procedure qualifying criterion as well as the EB-1A criteria:
EB-1A Documentation and Requirements:
- Demonstration of national or worldwide acclaim for EB1 Green card.
The EB-1A laureate has documented national or worldwide acclaim. The Noble Peace Prize or an Academy Award are two examples of international recognition for exceptional abilities. If the applicant does not have an internationally recognized award, they must show proof of at least three of the following:
- The applicant has obtained a national or worldwide recognition award or prize of significantly smaller value.
- Participated in important associations and organizations. They must be recognized as experts in their respective disciplines.
- Others’ work was evaluated.
- Original, very significant creative, scientific, or scholarly works in the field.
- Achievements were highlighted in major trade and media announcements.
- Works on display at an art show or exhibition.
- The performing arts have achieved media success. Box office receipts or entertainment sales can be used to evaluate a film.
- Earn a competitive paycheck.
As you can see, many of the EB-1a requirements are quite similar to the O-1 visa requirements. As a result, many foreign nationals who qualify for the O-1 also qualify for the EB-1A.
- I-140 Petition Form (USCIS)
The majority of other green card categories require you to have a work offer from a U.S. firm. Furthermore, that firm must go through a lengthy recruitment process in order to receive a PERM Labor Certification, which will dramatically lengthen your green card processing period.
One of the primary advantages of the EB-1A is that it does not necessitate a PERM Labor Certification or a work offer from a U.S. firm. Instead, the applicant might use the USCIS I-140 form to file a “self-petition.” This is one of the quickest ways to obtain a green card.
- Application for USCIS I-485
Once your I-140 is accepted and your priority date is current, you must file an I-485 Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status in order to alter your status to EB-1A. If the USCIS approves your application, you will be a legal permanent resident of the United States.
Timeline for the EB-1A Green Card Application
The faster processing time is another essential feature of the EB-1A. Other green card categories not only necessitate the PERM process, but they also have backlogs that can significantly lengthen the wait period.
That date becomes your priority date when you file your I-140 petition. Each month, the Department of State issues a visa bulletin outlining the “final action dates” for that month. If your priority date meets or exceeds your country’s final action date, a visa number will become available, and you can file your I-485 application.
While some other green card categories require applicants to wait several years, EB-1 priority dates are frequently current.
Dates, however, can be reversed. To be sure, consult the most recent bulletin.
Your I-140 processing time is mainly dependent on the workload of the service center that processes your petition. However, on average, it takes about six months. However, if this is too long for you, you can choose premium processing.
For an additional charge, the USCIS will shorten the processing period of your petition to 15 calendar days. If the USCIS fails to reach this deadline, your premium processing money will be refunded.
EB-1A Green Card Application Process
In order to self-petition for EB-1A green card, you must first file the USCIS Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.
If Applicant is in the U.S.
If priority date is current for EB-1A category for applicants from your country of birth, you and your dependents can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
You can check if the priority date is current here.
Scroll down to “Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Adjustment of Status Applications” table and find your country of birth.
EB-1A category is called “Employment-Based 1st”.
If priority date is current, you and your dependents can file Form I-485:
- Together with your Form I-140 (“concurrent filing”)
- After your Form I-140 is registered but before it’s approved
- After Form I-140 is approved.
Filing Form I-485 concurrently allows you to apply for Employment Authorization Document and travel document too.
You can check the average processing time of Form I-140 and Form I-485 on the USCIS website.
Keep in mind that the processing times are approximate.
Each case has a unique processing time that depends on many factors.
What if I’m not in the United States?
If you are currently outside the U.S. then, you will need to get Form I-140 approved first.
Once Form I-140 is approved, you and your dependents can apply for immigrant visas at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country of residence.
This process is also called “consular processing”.
After Form I-140 is approved you will receive an email and a notice from the National Visa Center (NVC).
In that NVC notice you will find the link and instructions to accessing your DS 260 online immigrant visa application.
Changing your status is only available to those who are already in the United States on a different visa (such as the O-1). If this is not the case and you are currently outside the United States, you will need to go through consular procedures.
This means you’ll need to make an appointment with the US consulate or embassy in your native country to meet with a consular officer one-on-one. You must also complete the online DS-260 immigrant visa application and bring the confirmation document to your meeting.
The timeline for consular processing is determined on the consulate or embassy you visit. Some applicants have to wait several months, while others only have to wait a few weeks. When you attend for your interview, you will be asked questions about your experience, education, career, and job in the United States in order to determine whether your application is valid and you are qualified.
Keep in mind that each EB-1A case is unique and may require a varied processing time. Consult with your EB-1A attorney to discover how long you will have to wait for your green card.
You will need to pay the government fees in order to continue filling out Form DS-260.
Save the DS-260 confirmation page. You will need it for your interview at a U.S. Embassy.
The following are the fees associated with petitioning and applying for a green card:
Within the United States (Change of status)
- The baseline I-140 filing fee is $460.
- I-485 fee: $750-1,140. This cost varies according to your age. Check out this chart to see where you stand.
- Fee for biometrics (if applicable): $85
- Optional premium processing fee: $1,440
- Outside of the United States (Consular Processing)
- The baseline I-140 filing fee is $460.
- DS-260 fee: $230
- Fee for Affidavit of Support: $88
- Fee for biometrics (if applicable): $85
- Premium processing cost (optional): $1,440 EB-1A Green Card Advantages of Extraordinary Ability
Among the benefits of the EB-1A Extraordinary Ability category are:
There is no requirement for a permanent employment offer or labor certification in the United States.
Because you can file a petition and an application for permanent residency at the same time, the LCA process is typically faster (also known as concurrent filing).
There is more freedom than with the labor certification process, and you can change occupations more quickly.
Self-petitioning is permitted, which implies that you do not need the signature of someone from the institution or firm for which you work.
There are several drawbacks to be aware of. To begin, you must display exceptional talent; merely average or decent will not suffice. It can be less predictable than the labor certification process at times. However, this varies greatly from instance to situation.
Because the USCIS defines extraordinary ability on a case-by-case basis, it is critical that you deal with an EB-1A lawyer to ensure that your case is strong.
Example of an EB1 Green Card Case with Extraordinary Ability
One approved case under the Green Card Extraordinary Ability category is shown below:
Dr. James received his Ph.D. in Russia. His work generally deals with mechanical engineering in a way that can benefit the US economy. He has a diverse set of accomplishments in the sector and has gained national attention for his efforts.
Dr. James is also a prolific contributor to scholarly journals, having authored numerous that are still in print. He qualifies for Extraordinary Ability since he is a world-renowned expert in his specialty. Dr. James does not need the sponsorship of his employer if he can continue his employment in the country.
Frequently Asked EB-1A Green Card Questions
What exactly is an EB-1A?
The EB-1A classification is a subset of the employment-based immigration first preference category reserved for those with exceptional aptitude in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. A green card will be issued if an application meets all of the criteria and is approved.
In EB-1A, how do you demonstrate outstanding ability?
You can demonstrate outstanding ability by meeting at least three of the ten criteria listed in the EB-1A Documentation section above. Proof of a one-time achievement (e.g., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal) and evidence establishing that the sort of work will continue in the United States is adequate for other types of visas (e.g., O-1B petitions) needing demonstration of extraordinary performance.
What is the distinction between EB-1A and EB-1B visas?
The primary difference is that the EB-1B standards are only applicable to scientific and academic subjects. The EB-1A category, on the other hand, applies to the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
Difference Between EB-1A and EB-1B
|It is designed for foreign individuals with extraordinary ability.||It is designed for foreign individuals who are outstanding professors or researchers.|
|Individuals applying for this employment-based visa category can self-petition, without having a job offer in the U.S. Form I-140 is filed by the applicant.||Having a U.S. job offer is mandatory to apply for this visa category. Also, the I-140 petition for the foreign applicant can only be filed by his/her U.S. employer.|
|Applicant will need to pay all government & legal fees||U.S. employer will pay all government & legal fees|
|Applicant is independent||Applicant will depend on their U.S. employer in the application process|
See File My Application Online for more information on filing fees.
How long does an EB-1A application take?
While backlogs may cause additional EB-1A processing time, an EB-1 petition has traditionally taken roughly eight months to process. However, after an I-140 is approved, the USCIS will provide a permanent residence card within six months.
How much time does it take to obtain an EB-2 visa?
The EB-2 visa processing time is normally longer than the EB-1A green card processing period, and it is influenced by your place of origin as well as the service center that processes your I-140. The EB-2 process takes around 18 months. If you want a PERM Labor Certification, the time frame might range from eight months to two years, depending on whether your firm is audited following the recruitment process.
The Advantages of an EB-1A Green Card:
The EB-1A visa is regarded as a particularly desirable green card because: EB-1 visa priority dates are “current,” implying that the wait time is much shorter than for other green cards.
Going through the PERM process is also unnecessary (where the Department of Labor would need to establish that existing U.S.-based workers could fill the same position).
The green card holder’s spouse and any minor children may also be eligible for admission to the United States under E-14 or E-15 immigrant status.
For these reasons, EB-1A visa applications are scrutinized closely, and they are among the most difficult to obtain.
The Complete Manual: How to Master the EB-1 Green Card Application Process.
USCIS Eligibility for an EB-1A Visa:
The evidence must meet at least three of the ten criteria established by USCIS or provide proof of a truly exceptional single achievement.
Through sustained national or international acclaim, you can demonstrate extraordinary ability in your field (sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics).
- Membership in one or more associations in the field that require exceptional achievement as a prerequisite for membership.
- Proof of publication of information about the beneficiary in professional or major trade publications, as well as other major media.
- Evidence of being asked to judge the work of others, either as an individual or as a member of an expert panel.
- Evidence of significant original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions to the field.
- Evidence of authorship of scholarly books or articles (in international scholarly journals) in the field.
- Evidence of success in a leadership or critical role in a reputable organization.
- Also, evidence of commanding a high salary (or other significantly higher remuneration) in comparison to others in the field.
- Published material about the beneficiary’s academic work in professional publications written by others.
- Contributions to original scientific or scholarly research in the field.
We typically advise obtaining references from ten or more independent experts who can validate the evidence, demonstrating that any publications or citations are relevant and meet the minimum requirements. OnlineVisas has extensive experience locating credible and reliable expert references for EB-1b petitions.
If Applicant is in the U.S.:
- Form I-140 filing fee: $700
- Premium processing fee (optional): $2,500
- Form I-485 filing fee: Varies for different age groups. For ages between 14-78, the filing fee is $1,225 per applicant. You can check the current fees here (scroll down to “Filing Fee”).
- Medical Examination Fee
If Applicant is Abroad:
- Form I-140 filing fee: $700
- Premium processing fee (optional): $2,500
- DS 260 visa application fee: $325
- Affidavit of support fee: $120
- Immigrant visa fee: $220
- Medical examination fee: varies.
EB-1A Checklist of Supporting Documents
|Lesser nationally or internationally recognized awards||All kinds of awards, except:Academic scholarships or grants,Local prizes or awards,An award received in a team.|
Please note that individually received awards hold more weight than those won in a team.Make sure to add the total number of individuals nominated for the award you received.
|Proof of membership in distinguished associations/organization||Documents proving membership in the organization or association,Documentation enlisting the membership criteria. |
Outstanding achievement must be an essential criteria for joining the organization, If the individual(s) responsible for choosing the organization members is/are internationally acclaimed in their domains, it will strengthen your caseDo not enlist being a member of trade unions or local organizations.
|Publications||Applicant’s national work covered extensively by their home country’s national broadcast networks and/or major media publications.Clippings of the applicant’s work must contain the date and title of their publication.Lesser weight will be given to clips containing applicant’s projects where their role is not reflected significantly.|
|Judging the work of others||Proof of your presence on the panel of judgesProof that you have led a workshop, or Judged a discussion of groups at national level.Your written statement and explanation of your involvement and role in judging the works of others|
|Significant contributions||The contributions must be original as well as of a scholarly, artistic, business-related, or scientific nature.Proof that the individual is ‘successful’ in their field of work,Documentation of the applicant’s work being of significant importance to other members of his/her field of work.|
|Scholarly articles||Evidence of the article(s) authorshipProof of your scholarly articles published in nationally or internationally acclaimed journals in your field|
|Proof of critical role in distinguished organizations||Proof of the organization/association having a distinguished national or international reputation.Evidence showing the foreign national’s leadig/critical role in the organization.Proof showing that the individual’s leading role in the organization’s project led to a success.|
|Evidence of a high salary||Financial records and statements of your salary (or salary slips).Your salary package will be compared to that of individuals in similar roles or expertise in your field.|
|Evidence of commercial success in performing arts||Media coverage of the foreign artist’s work (press releases, coverage of movie premier, newspaper articles, and critics overview, among others).|
Documentation of articles written about the artist’s work.Proof of conducting/participation in a solo stage performance/play.Proof of artist’s success in their field.Examples of work done by the artists (for example, movie DVDs or posters).Evidence of box office sales.
|In addition to the list of documents provided above, there are some general documents which must be submitted along with the foreign applicant’s proof for extraordinary ability||Your resume or CV.Copy of your passport.Letters of recommendation and endorsement from the experts of your field, to highlight your contributions.Job contract with a U.S. employer (if any), or a signed statement of your work plan after entering the U.S.|
EB-1A for Dependents
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of EB-1A applicants are eligible for permanent residency if the principal applicant’s petition is approved.
If dependents are physically present with the principal applicant in the U.S., they can submit Form I-485.
For dependents abroad, the immigration application process will start after Form I-140 is approved.
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 will be eligible for application of admission into the U.S. under E-14 or E-15 immigrant status, respectively.
See File My Application Online for more information on filing fees.
EB-1A Green Card Process and Documentation
According to USCIS, as the named Form I-140 beneficiary, you should submit the following documentation and evidence to apply as for an employment-based green card as an immigrant currently in the U.S.:
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
- Form I-797, Approval or Receipt Notice, for Form I-140, filed on your behalf (unless you are filing your Form I-485 together with the Form I-140);
- Form I-485 Supplement J (unless filing Form I-485 with Form I-140 or adjusting status based on a National Interest Waiver or as an alien of extraordinary ability), to confirm that the job offered to you in Form I-140 remains a bona fide job offer that you intend to accept once your Form I-485 is approved;
- Signed statement of intention to work in the occupational field specified in Form I-140 if you are a self-petitioner;
- Two passport-style photographs;
- Government-issued identity document with photograph;
- Birth certificate;
- Passport page with nonimmigrant visa;
- Passport page with admission/parole stamp;
- Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admission or parole stamp on the travel document.
Note: You can print the paper version of Form I-94 from the CBP website if CBP provides you with an electronic version.
- Since arriving in the U.S., show proof of continuously maintaining lawful status (or an exemption under INA 245(k)).
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA (if your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative filed Form I-140. Or by a relative who is a U.S. citizen who holds 5% or more of ownership interest in a for-profit entity.) For more information, see Instructions for Form I-864.
Note: A “relative” is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is your husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, or sister;
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (may be submitted with Form I-485 or by mail upon request or at your in-person interview);
- Certified police/court records that include a complete criminal background report;
- Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility;
- Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal;
- J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrant status documents (proof of compliance or a 2-year foreign residence waiver under INA 212(e). See Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement);
- Form I-508, Request for Waiver of Rights, Privileges, Exemptions, and Immunities (if for A, G, or E nonimmigrant status.)
- Form I-566, Interagency Record of Request – A, G or NATO Dependent Employment Authorization or Change/Adjustment to/from A, G or NATO Status (only for A, G, or NATO nonimmigrant status); and
- Form I-485 Supplement A “Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i).”
Note: Each form requires you to submit the correct filing fee unless you are exempt or eligible for a fee waiver. Consult USCIS’ Filing Fees and Fee Schedule for more information.
See the Instructions for Form I-485 for more information on applying for adjustment of status.
How We Can Assist You – EB1 Green Card Process
Tahmidur Rahman Remura Immigration Lawyers Law Group’s EB-1A Extraordinary Ability attorneys have extensive experience determining if you qualify for one of the Extraordinary Ability categories. Furthermore, if you are doubtful whether your evidence of achievement fits EB-1 requirements, they can advise you.
Don’t meet the aforementioned requirements? Then, return to the main EB-1 Category for other green card choices.