EB-1A Visa (Alien of Extraordinary Ability)
The Alien of Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A) visa stands out among various immigration options. It showcases the nation’s dedication to attracting top talents globally. This visa is part of the Employment-Based Immigration: First Preference (EB-1) category. It is for individuals who have proven to be outstanding in their various fields, thereby, able to contribute significantly to American society and its economy.
The employment visa serves as a pathway for exceptionally talented individuals in areas like science, arts, education, business, and athletics. What sets the EB-1A visa apart is that, unlike many other immigration routes, it does not require sponsorship from an employer. This presents a remarkable chance for individuals to pursue their professional goals in the United States independently.
Why Choose an EB-1A Visa?
There are several reasons to choose the EB-1A visa. The foremost reason is stated below:
- The EB-1A visa stands out because it does not need sponsorship from a US company, unlike most employment-based visas. Typically, these visas require a job offer and an approved Labor Certification, which proves the employer’s effort to hire a qualified US worker. The EB-1A, however, allows you to apply independently without needing a US job offer or Labor Certification. It is a self-petition visa that allows you to apply without company sponsorship.
If you are still not sure if the alien of extraordinary ability visa is the best route for you, consulting with an immigration attorney is recommended to provide expert guidance on the best route for you.
What are the Requirements for an EB-1A Visa?
To secure an EB-1A visa, you must demonstrate three key characteristics:
- Extraordinary Ability: You must show exceptional expertise in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. You must also prove that your achievements are nationally or internationally recognized.
- Intent to Work in the US: Provide evidence that you plan to continue working in your extraordinary field in the United States. This can be demonstrated through letters from potential employers, contracts with US companies, or a detailed personal statement.
- Substantial Benefit to the US: You must clarify how your entry will significantly benefit the United States. Generally, working in your field of extraordinary ability is considered beneficial, and a written statement can suffice for this requirement.
The term “extraordinary ability,” outlined in the regulations of USCIS under 8 CFR Section 204.5(h)(2), signifies an exceptional level of expertise placing an individual among a select few who have reached the pinnacle of their respective fields. This standard is designed for individuals with remarkable achievements and widespread recognition in their specific domains. It is described as reaching the pinnacle of one’s field.
To establish extraordinary ability, USCIS mandates that applicants present substantial evidence indicating that their accomplishments have gained long-lasting recognition, nationally or internationally. This evidence should highlight the individual’s prominence and acknowledgement within their field. The following are key categories of evidence commonly considered:
- Major Awards or Recognitions: You can show this by acknowledgement through internationally or nationally recognized awards in the specific field.
- Membership in Elite Associations: This can be demonstrated by inclusion in associations that demand outstanding achievements evaluated by recognized national or international experts in the field.
- Published Material Featuring the Individual: Articles, reviews, or publications spotlighting your work in professional or major trade publications or other significant media.
- Participation as a Judge: Contribution as a judge for others’ work in the same or a related field of specialization.
- Original Contributions of Significance: Contributions of major significance in the field, spanning scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related domains.
- Authoring Scholarly Articles: Authoring scholarly articles published in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
- Display of Work at Exhibitions or Showcases: Presentation of work at artistic exhibitions or showcases related to the field.
- Leading or Critical Role in Organizations: Holding a leading or critical role in organizations or establishments with a distinguished reputation.
- Considerably High Income or Substantial Compensation: Earning a noteworthy salary or significant remuneration in comparison to peers within the field.
- Success in the Performing Arts Industry: Attaining commercial success in the performing arts, with box office receipts or sales of records, cassettes, compact disks, or videos as evidence.
It’s essential to emphasize that meeting at least three of these criteria is generally necessary to establish extraordinary ability. Additionally, if certain criteria do not apply to a specific field, applicants may submit comparable evidence to demonstrate eligibility for the EB-1A visa.
What Documents Do You Need for an EB-1A Visa Application?
The evidence you submit with your EB-1A application is crucial for approval. While the specific documents vary based on your accomplishments, publications, and accolades, here is a general list you can expect to provide to your immigration lawyer:
- Your resume or CV.
- Copies of your passport for you and your family.
- Proof of your extraordinary ability, like publications, awards, pay stubs demonstrating a high salary compared to peers, citations, and other relevant evidence.
- Letters of recommendation and endorsement from professionals in your field.
- Evidence of the work you’ll be doing in the USA, including a job offer, work contract, or a signed statement outlining your responsibilities.
Note that the required documents are not restricted to what is listed, as they are subject to change. To stay updated, you can consult one of our immigration attorneys to guide you on the latest and most relevant document requirements for your situation.
How Does USCIS Decide on EB-1A Visa Petitions?
The USCIS follows a two-step process to determine the approval or denial of an EB-1A petition:
Step 1: First Visa Assessment Phase
During this stage, USCIS ensures that you’ve provided evidence meeting at least three of the required criteria. The quality of the evidence is assessed here. If you don’t fulfil at least three criteria, your application is denied at this point. The focus at this stage is not on whether you’ve reached the top of your field.
Step 2: Final Merits Determination
In this phase, USCIS assesses all the evidence to determine if you possess extraordinary ability. This is where they decide if you’re among the select few at the pinnacle of your field. USCIS also checks if you have “sustained national or international acclaim” and if your achievements are recognized in your field.
It is also important for you to note that meeting three criteria doesn’t automatically qualify you for an EB-1A visa. Alongside having a high salary, awards, or published articles, you must still meet the definition of extraordinary ability. In simpler terms, you must show your extraordinary ability by proving that you are exceptionally skilled and recognized as one of the best in your field. It’s a demanding standard, but achievable for the right candidate.
The Role of Letters of Endorsement
It is pertinent to note that letters from industry experts are very important for your EB-1A application. While they shouldn’t be the primary evidence of your extraordinary ability, it is important to note that they help explain the significance of your contributions.
As we have rightly stated, the EB-1A visa is a compelling option for those with extraordinary ability in arts, sciences, athletics, business, or education and your extraordinary ability is the expertise indicating you’re among the top in your field. You can also prove this by the letters of endorsements which would help showcase the recognition of your achievements in your field.
How to Apply for an EB-1A Visa
To apply for an Alien of Extraordinary Ability visa, follow these steps:
- Collect all required evidence for the I-140 form, as detailed in the eligibility criteria.
- Complete and sign Form I-140 and any additional necessary documents.
- Include an original certified Form ETA 750 if applying for a professional athlete with exceptional ability.
- The processing time for the EB-1 green card is typically around 6 months but can vary based on your country and the number of applicants.
- For a faster process (15 days), you can file Form I-907.
- If eligible, consider filing Form I-485 for permanent residence or status adjustment.
- Send the completed form to the designated filing address and ensure it is signed.
- After filing, USCIS processes your application, providing a priority date and issuing notices for biometrics or interviews if needed.
- You will be notified when your I-140 form is approved or denied.
- Upon I-140 approval, await the final action date, which changes monthly based on your country and the number of visa applicants.
- EB-1 applicants are prioritized. When your priority date is the same as or exceeds the final action date, you can then proceed to adjust your status. Stay updated by referring to the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin for the final action date of your country.
You may be recognized as an expert even if you haven’t received an international award for your work. To demonstrate your expertise three or more of the following have to be true:
- Your work has been acknowledged by fellow experts, with articles featured in reputable publications such as professional journals.
- You have been asked to judge the work of others in your area of expertise.
- You are a member of an association that only accepts people with outstanding achievements.
- Articles authored by you on topics within your expertise have been published in professional journals, renowned magazines, or newspapers.
- You have introduced new things to your field of expertise, impacting the work of others.
- Your work has been exhibited at artistic showcases and exhibitions.
- You have performed an important or leading role at organizations that only hire experts in your area of expertise.
- Your compensation or pay for your work exceeds that of others in your field of expertise.
- You have achieved success in the performing arts, with tangible evidence.
- You have received internationally or nationally renowned prizes or awards in recognition of your accomplishments.
Opportunities for Family Members of EB-1A Visa Holders
Close relatives, such as spouses and unmarried children below the age of 21, may apply for permanent residency. Typically, they are authorized to work, reside, and study in the United States. After five years of being legal permanent residents, the visa holder and their family members can often apply for citizenship.
Contact CFUIS – EB-1A Visa Lawyer
Getting an Alien of Extraordinary Ability Visa is very difficult because the standards are so high. Only a few thousand of this type of visa were approved in the past few years.
We, as immigration lawyers, can tell you the best way to prove you are an expert. We can also help you put together the documents that you’ll need. Call us today at 813-298-7222, chat on WhatsApp, email us, fill out our contact form, or schedule an appointment.