Do you Qualify for an EB1-A Green Card?

Are you interested in learning all about the EB-1A visa for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics? Then this video is right for you. Here we break down the EB-1A eligibility criteria and what types of individuals qualify for this visa type.

Did you know? Individuals can self-petition for the EB-1A visa category. No employment sponsorship or labor certification is needed. If your EB-1A visa petition is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you are eligible to apply for a green card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence (if legally residing in the United States) or through Consular processing (if you are residing abroad). You may include your dependent family members on your I-485 application.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


The EB-1A is an employment-based visa type for individuals who can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international recognition in their field. To qualify, individuals must meet at least 3 of the following 10 criteria or provide evidence of a one-time achievement such as a Pulitzer Prize, Oscar, or Olympic Medal. EB-1A applicants must also be prepared to provide evidence that they will continue to work in their area of expertise in the United States once approved.

The main benefit of the EB-1A is that you can self-petition. You do not need sponsorship from a U.S. employer or labor certification to apply. As you might recall, earlier this year, USCIS issued a news alert encouraging employment-based applicants to consider transferring the underlying basis of their adjustment of status application to EB-1A or EB-2 if eligible, because of the exceptionally high number of employment-based immigrant visas available in those categories.

The EB-1A Criteria

So, how do you qualify for the EB-1A? To be eligible, you must demonstrate that you have sustained national or international acclaim and that your achievements have been recognized in your field of expertise. You must either provide 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 below does not apply to your field):

  1. Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  2. Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
  3. Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  4. Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  5. Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
  6. Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  7. Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
  8. Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
  9. Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  10. Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts (if applicable)

Defining Your Field of Expertise

One of the key elements required for a successful EB-1A is to define your field of extraordinary ability. Whether you are working in the field of science, business, or the arts, we must narrow down your specific area of expertise to make it easier to show how extraordinary you are in that space. This often requires several conversations with clients to pinpoint their exact area of expertise. This way, using the above criteria, we can argue and demonstrate that the applicant is at the top of his or her field.

What types of applicants may qualify for the EB-1A?

Our office has had great success filing EB-1A visa applications for individuals in the following occupations: athletes (tennis players, Olympic swimmers, runners, soccer players, baseball players, rugby players), fashion designers, interior designers, architects, physicians, researchers, startup founders (software, biotech), successful business executives, music producers, music composers, actors, singers, and many others.

What if I do not meet any of the above criteria? How do I qualify?

If you do not already meet at least 3 of the above 10 criteria for the EB-1A, your attorney can review your background to determine whether you can show extraordinary ability through any other means, based on your field of expertise. For instance, one of our client’s – an interior designer – was able to show comparable evidence of his extraordinary ability such as strong recommendation letters from experts in his field discussing his leading and critical role, as well as original contributions of major significance to the industry. Due to the international projects, he was involved in, we were also able to demonstrate his international acclaim in his industry.

In other cases, applicants have researched prestigious membership associations in their area of expertise and have applied to receive consideration. Applicants may also apply to judge national or international competitions individually or on a panel in their field of expertise, or negotiate a higher salary to meet the criteria, or seek additional publications in the major media highlighting their achievements.

It is important not to get discouraged if your accomplishments do not fit neatly into the above criteria. It may be possible to provide comparable evidence to demonstrate your extraordinary ability.

Can I still qualify for the first criteria, if my prizes or awards are not first-place awards?

Yes. Even if you did not receive a first-place award, you may still qualify depending on the prestigious and competitive nature of your award. We have been successful even where applicants have received a 2nd or 3rd place award in a competition. In this case, we carefully review the criteria, application process, and pool of candidates competing for the award to determine whether it can be used as evidence of sustained national or international acclaim.

How long does it take for USCIS to adjudicate the EB-1A application?

The normal processing time for USCIS to adjudicate the I-140 petition filed under the EB-1A visa category is 20 months. However, EB-1A applicants are eligible to use premium processing service by filing Form I-907 and paying the $2,500 processing fee to receive a decision within 15 calendar days (2 weeks) of filing.

Prior to filing your case, it normally takes several months to collect the documentation necessary to meet the criteria, including your letters of recommendation. Most of our clients take advantage of premium processing service to receive a decision within the 15-calendar day window.

The Takeaway

If you think you may qualify for the EB-1A visa, we invite you to contact us for a consultation, where we can evaluate your background and achievements in more detail.

Want to know if you’re eligible? If you would like to schedule a consultation to see if you are eligible for the EB-1A, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.

Helpful Links


Need more immigration updates? We have created a new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments related to COVID-19. Follow us there.

For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.