EB-1A Green Cards: Requirements, Petitions, and Process

EB-1A Green Cards: Requirements, Petitions, and Process

An EB-1A visa is meant for those with extraordinary abilities. In order to qualify for an EB-1A, you must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. This is proven in a variety of ways, but each needs to be through a sustained national or international acclaim. To petition for this visa, you need to meet 3 of 10 criteria stated below, or you need to present a one-time achievement. EB-1A extraordinary ability examples for a one-time achievement include receiving an Oscar, a Nobel Prize, an Olympic medal, or an award of equivalent nature.

Criteria for Eligibility

To demonstrate your status as a person with extraordinary abilities, you need to be able to provide evidence for 3 of the 10 following qualifications if you do not have an internationally recognized award or achievement. These criteria should show a sustained national or international recognition:

  1. Lesser recognized award for excellence
  2. Proof of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions in your field of expertise
  3. Published material about your excellence in either professional or trade publication or other major media
  4. Authorship in scholarly, professional, or trade media
  5. Commercial success in the performing arts
  6. Being asked to judge others individually or on a panel for their work
  7. Have had work displayed at artistic exhibitions and/or showcases
  8. Membership in a distinguished association or organization whose membership relies on having an extraordinary ability
  9. Performing a leading role in a distinguished organization
  10. Proof you command a high salary or significant payment in relation to others in your field

Though you do not need an employment offer for the EB-1A green card, you do need to show that you will be working in your field of expertise in the U.S. If you do not have the EB-1A requirements listed above but do have evidence of equal comparison, then you can submit your equivalent evidence when you file for your EB-1A visa.

What’s the Difference: EB-1A vs. EB-1B

There are two main differences between the EB-1A and EB-1B visas: requirements of eligibility and the role of petitioner.

Criteria Per Green Card

There is more variety in the EB-1A visa requirements, but they are only accomplished by a small percentage of people. The EB-1B has more of a focused path for its recipients.

EB-1B visas fall under the category of outstanding professor or researcher. You must exhibit international recognition and outstanding achievement in a particular academic field. The purpose of the visa needs to be for a tenure, tenure-track, or comparable research position.

The criteria between EB-1A and EB-1B differ greatly. However, there are people who can qualify for both. If this is your case, we recommend speaking with an attorney about which visa option is best for you.

Role of Petitioner

As an EB-1A applicant, you can self-petition. EB-1B applicants are not allowed to do so — your U.S. employer needs to petition for you, the beneficiary. Your employer must be able to continuously pay you the offered wage starting at the priority date. To prove their ability to pay, the petitioner may send in an annual report, federal income tax return, or audited financial statement.


The EB-1 visa process requires a Form I-140, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, also known as an I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. Each sub-category requires this form, the difference between the categories is who fills out the form.

Before filling out Form I-140, third preference employment-based visas need to get go through the labor certification process. Second preference visas also need a Department of Labor (DOL) labor certificate unless they have a national interest waiver. Similarly to the EB-1B and EB-1C, a labor certificate is filed by the employer. A DOL labor certificate makes sure that the foreign worker’s U.S. employment will not adversely affect job opportunities, wages, or working conditions of U.S. workers. EB-1 petitions do not require a labor certification because they are first preference workers.

Even though EB-1A applicants do not need to have an offer of employment, they need to show that you are attaining the employment-based visa in order to work in your field of expertise while in the United States. This evidence needs to be submitted at the same time you submit your evidence for demonstrating the needed requirements.

Self-petitioning has its advantages including having more freedom over employment options; you do not need to have a job offer to petition. This allows for a greater variety of opportunities in the United States.

Though self-petitioning is allowed, we recommend consulting an immigration attorney during your process of petitioning for an EB-1A visa. Filing for a visa is a complicated process — working with an immigrant lawyer could help you with all legal and regulatory factors.

EB-1 Green Card Process and Timeline

In order to petition for an EB-1A visa, you must complete the following:

  • Gather all evidence for your I-140 form (found above in ‘Criteria for Eligibility’).
  • Fill out and sign Form I-140 and any other documents you may need to send in as evidence.
  • An original certified Form ETA 750, Application for Alien Employment Certification, if you are seeking to classify the beneficiary as a professional athlete with exceptional ability.
  • Pay the filing fee of $700.
    • EB-1 green card processing time varies depending on your country and how many people applied, but usually takes around 6 months to be processed.
    • EB-1 processing time can be unpredictable and lengthy. For a faster process time of a guaranteed 15 days, you may file an I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a fee of $2,500.
  • Since you are filing for an EB-1 extraordinary ability green form, you may be eligible for a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
  • When you have completed filling out the form, you then send it to the direct filing address for your particular form. Do not forget to sign the form.
  • Once you’ve filed, the USCIS processes your application and you will receive your priority date along with a biometrics service notice and/or a notice to appear for an interview if required.
  • You will receive a notice if your I-140 form was accepted or not.
  • Once an I-140 is approved, you will need to wait for the final action date. The final action date changes monthly depending on your country and the amount of people who applied for visas. Since you are EB-1, you will be first priority. Once your priority date matches or surpasses the final action date, you will be able to adjust your status. View the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin to be up to date on your country’s final action date.

Two-Step Application Process: Presenting Evidence

The two-step approach, also known as the Kazarian case, is specifically for the EB-1A, EB-1B, and EB-2 visas.

The first step is the USCIS adjudicator’s determination of evidence. They review whether the evidence submitted satisfies qualifications for the visa. They will search for whether three out of 10 criteria are present or if the petitioner sent in the one-time achievement. Once it is determined that all evidence is there, the adjudicator moves onto the second step.

The second step is the totality test where the USCIS adjudicator judges all material. The adjudicator reviews the evidence in totality and determines if the evidence present meets the criteria for exceptional ability for EB-1A as filed in the Form I-140.

Presenting evidence is the way to establish proof of your extraordinary abilities, qualifying you as an eligible recipient of the EB-1A visa. We recommend working with an experienced attorney to make sure your evidence is presented in the best way.

Working with an Attorney

Petitioning for an EB-1A, employment-based visa is a complicated process. You will want to make sure that all forms and evidence presentation is done correctly in order to get the best results. Working with an experienced immigration attorney will help ensure the most thorough petition and outcome. The lawyers at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. have had over 30 years of experience in immigration law. Contact us today at (312) 444-1940 for legal assistance.

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