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EB-1A: Alien of Extraordinary Ability

What is the EB-1A, Alien of Extraordinary Ability?

The EB-1A is an immigrant petition that puts you on the path to getting a green card. To be eligible for an EB-1A, you must demonstrate that you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

What are the benefits of the EB-1A?

The EB-1A allows you to skip the PERM, a lengthy process of testing the labor market for qualified U.S. workers.

Also, you do not need an employer to sponsor the EB-1A – you can self-petition!

How do I qualify for the EB-1A?

To qualify, you must either have received a major, internationally recognized prize or award, such as a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal OR

Meet at least three criteria below:

  • You received nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards in the field
  • You are a member of associations in the field that require outstanding achievement
  • There are published material about you in professional publications, major trade publications, or other major media
  • You have judged the work of others in the field, either individually or on a panel
  • You have made original contributions of major significance to the field
  • You have authored scholarly articles in professional publications, major trade publications, or other major media
  • You have served in a leading or critical role for distinguished organizations
  • You command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration
  • Your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
  • You have commercial successes in the performing arts
  •  You have comparable evidence of extraordinary ability

How will the U.S. government evaluate my EB-1A petition?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes a two-step approach in evaluating EB-1A petitions. First, you must establish that you either have a major, internationally recognized prize or award OR satisfy at least three of the eligibility criteria.

Then, USCIS performs a “totality test”. What this means is that USCIS reviews all the evidence together and makes a decision whether, taking everything into account, you have risen to the level of achievement where you should be classified as an EB-1A “Alien of Extraordinary Ability”.

Who typically qualifies for EB-1A?

Many different types of experts may qualify for the EB-1A! For example, a startup founder with a record of business achievements, who has served in critical roles at companies, has been featured in media articles, and has received a high salary, may qualify for the EB-1A.

I am on F-1, can I file an EB-1A?

Yes, you can file the EB-1A while in F-1 student status. The EB-1A approval will not impact your F-1.

I am on J-1, can I file an EB-1A?

Yes, you can file the EB-1A while in J-1 status. The EB-1A approval will not impact your J-1. However, if you are subject to the J 2-year home residency requirement, you will not be able to file the I-485 (the “green card” application) until you have either obtained a waiver or satisfy the 2-year home residency requirement.

I am already on O-1. Does this mean that my EB-1A will be approved?

Not necessary. The O-1 allows you to temporarily work in the U.S. The standard for the EB-1A is higher than the O-1, because the EB-1A puts you on the path to a green card. Having an O-1 approval does not guarantee that the EB-1A will be approved.

Legalpad can help you prepare a compelling EB-1A filing!

Do I have to be in the U.S. to file the EB-1A?

No. You do not need to be in the U.S. to file the EB-1A. The EB-1A can be filed while you are living abroad.

Can I file the EB-1A with premium processing?

Yes. EB-1A petitions are eligible for premium processing. Under premium processing, you can receive a final decision within 15 days after filing, unless a Request For Evidence is issued.

A Request For Evidence means that USCIS would like more information before making a final decision.

What is included in the EB-1A petition?

The EB-1A petition will include:

  • Filing fee
  • Form I-907, if filing with premium processing
  • Form G-28
  • Form I-140
  • The EB-1A support letter (detailed letter that provides a narrative of your accomplishments)
  •  5-6 recommendation letters from experts in the field
  •  Passport biographic page, and status documents if you are currently in the U.S.
  • Evidence of how you qualify for the EB-1A. For example, documentation of your memberships, awards, media coverage, etc.
  • Information about the company, if a U.S. employer is filing the EB-1A for you.

What happens after the EB-1A is filed?

If the EB-1A is filed with regular processing, it can take 6-8 months to receive a decision from USCIS.

If the EB-1A is filed with premium processing, you will receive a decision within 15 days unless a Request For Evidence is issued.

Can I file the EB-1A and I-485 together?

If your priority date is current, then you have the option to file the EB-1A by itself or file the EB-1A and the I-485 (the “green card” application) together.

If your priority date is not current, then you must file your EB-1A by itself. Once your priority date becomes current in the future, you can then file the I-485.

I already have an I-140 approval. If I file the EB-1A, can I keep my original priority date?

Yes! If you already have an I-140 approval, you will be able to keep your priority date in the EB-1A filing. You will not lose your place in line.

I am in the U.S. Can I travel after the EB-1A is filed, or after the EB-1A is approved?

Yes. If you have valid status, you can travel internationally and re-enter the U.S. after the EB-1A is filed, and even after the EB-1A is approved. Having the EB-1A approval will not impact your ability to travel internationally. For example, you can travel internationally and re-enter the U.S. in O-1 status after EB-1A approval.

However, unless you are in H or L status, there will be travel restrictions at the I-485 stage (the actual “green card” application).

Would my dependents need a separate EB-1A approval?

No. Your dependents will not have a separate EB-1A approval. If the priority date is current, your spouse and children under 21 years of age can apply for the I-485 using your EB-1A approval notice.