All About the EB-1A with your FAQs: Fastest Way to Get a Green Card without a Job Offer, Marriage, or Sponsor

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers your frequently asked questions regarding the Employment-Based First Preference immigrant visa category also known as EB-1A, reserved for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. In this video, we talk about some of the major advantages of the EB-1 visa category including the direct path to permanent residency it offers without the need for sponsorship by a U.S. employer or qualifying family petition.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


EB-1A Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Who Qualifies for the EB-1A visa category.


The EB-1 visa is an immigrant visa category, that allows foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics to obtain permanent residency in the United States. The foreign national’s extraordinary ability must be shown through documentation evidencing sustained national or international acclaim by recognition in his or her field. Applicants who are successful are those that are at the top of their field and are known as individuals of extraordinary ability in their industry.

The general criteria are as follows:

#1: The person has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.

#2: The person seeks to enter the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.

#3: The person’s entry into the United States will substantially benefit the United States in the future.


Q: How does USCIS define extraordinary ability?


USCIS defines a person of extraordinary as one of that small percentage of individuals who has risen to the very top of his or her field of endeavor, and that has sustained national or international acclaim. An individual’s extraordinary ability is demonstrated by providing documentation that supports the applicant’s claim of achievements and recognition in their field. Examples of documentation that is typically provided to support an EB-1A application includes evidence of a one-time achievement (major internationally recognized award) or at least 3 of the 10 listed criteria below (or comparable evidence if any of the criteria do not readily apply):

  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in your field of endeavor
  • Evidence of membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
  • Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  • Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
  • Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media (typically provided by scientists or researchers)
  • Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
  • Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
  • Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  • Letters of recommendation from recognized experts in the field
  • Evidence of major grants, patents, or intellectual property awarded to the applicant


Q: What are some of the rules when it comes to lesser awards?


Lesser awards are awards that are either nationally or internationally recognized in your field. Local awards may not work because they do not rise to the level of being nationally recognized.


Q: How can you prove that you were a judge on a panel?


There are numerous documents that can be provided to prove that you participated as a judge on a panel such as documentation showing that you were invited or selected to participate as a judge, this can include a letter signed by the appropriate authority involved, and other such evidence such as webpages or promotional materials that show your participation in the panel.


Q: How do you prove that you played a leading or critical role in a distinguished organization?


Most often applicants will obtain affidavits from past employers such as a supervisor or person in a high-level position that can attest to the applicant’s leading or critical role for the past employer and how that individual made an impact on the success of the organization. Applicants can also provide letters of recommendation from their colleagues in the industry that have personal knowledge of their leading or critical role working in past companies of distinguished reputation and the contributions and achievements they made while working for the company. Any future positions or job offers are not accepted as proof of leading or critical roles in distinguished organizations.


Q: Do I have to be inside the United States to qualify for EB-1A?


You can be, but you don’t have to. Applicants can file this petition with USCIS while residing overseas. Once your application is approved, then the application will be sent to your local U.S. Embassy for final processing. Additionally, F-1 international students in master’s degree or PhD programs in the United States can qualify for the EB-1A visa based on work that they have done before coming to study in the United States.


Q: Is premium processing service available for EB-1A applications?


Yes. Premium Processing Service is available for EB-1A applications. Premium Processing is a service that guarantees 15 calendar day processing of Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the submission of Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service and payment of a $2,500 filing fee. USCIS refunds the Premium Processing Service fee (but continue to process the case) if they do not take action on the related case within 15 calendar days of receiving a properly filed Form I-907. This is a major advantage because Premium Processing Service for other employment-based preference categories such as EB-2 National Interest Waiver is not currently available.


Q: Do I need a petitioner for my EB-1A case?


No. EB-1A is a self-petition. Applicants are allowed to be their own sponsor based on their extraordinary achievements.


Q: Once you receive an EB-1A green card, for how long does it last?


The EB-1A green card is a ten-year green card just like any other green card which you can renew every ten years or apply for citizenship after five years of being a permanent resident.


Q: Can my family members be added to my EB-1A process?


Yes. Once the EB-1A petition is approved, the applicant’s spouse and children under the age of 21 are eligible to apply for their green cards.


Q: What if I don’t qualify for the EB-1A?


The good news is that there is another immigrant visa option for individuals that are at the top of their field which is the EB-2 National Interest Waiver. Many applicants that are very close to becoming EB-1A qualified but are not quite there elect to file a National Interest Waiver instead under the EB-2 category. The National Interest Waiver is also a self-petition that once approved allows the applicant to apply for their green card. More information about the EB-2 National Interest Waiver can be found here.


Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.


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All About the EB-1A with your FAQs: Fastest Way to Get a Green Card without a Job Offer, Marriage, or Sponsor