A Complete Guide to EB1A Green Card

Updated on 04/23/2023

Foreigners interested in the United States can realize a lifelong dream when they obtain a United States green card.  There are many different types of green cards, as green cards are issued for many different reasons, including based on family relationships, employment, and other circumstances. One type of green card is an EB1A green card.

This article provides a complete guide to the EB1A green card.

EB1A Green Card

What is an EB1A green card?

An EB1A green card can be distinguished from other green cards by the phrase, “EB1A”.

First, “EB” signifies that the EB1A green card is classified with various “employment-based” green cards. 

Second, “1” signifies that the EB1A green card is different from the other “EB” green cards – EB2 green card, EB3 green card, EB4 green card, and EB5 green card.

Third, “A” signifies that the EB1A green card is different from the other “EB1” green cards – EB1B green card and EB1C green card (as described below).

Is there any difference between an EB1A green card and an EB1A visa?

Literally, there is no material difference between an EB1A green card and an EB1A visa. Here, an EB1A visa refers to an EB1A immigrant visa. Foreigners who are granted an immigrant visa will be issued a green card. In practice, an immigrant visa is issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy to the passport of the immigrant visa applicant under the consular processing. Then a physical green card will be produced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”)  after the applicant enters the U.S. with such immigrant visa.

What is the difference between EB1A, EB1B, and EB1C?

In addition to the EB1A green card, there are two other types of “EB1” green cards, as follows:

  • The EB1B green card can be issued for certain outstanding professors and researchers. The immigrant must demonstrate international recognition for outstanding achievements in a particular academic field (and have at least three years of experience in teaching or research in such academic area); and
  • The EB1C green card can be issued for certain multinational managers or executives. The immigrant must have been employed outside the United States for at least one year in the three years preceding the green card petition or the most recent lawful nonimmigrant admission if the immigrant is already working for a United States petitioning employer (who must have been doing business for at least one year, have a qualifying relationship to the entity for whom the immigrant worked outside the United States, and intend to employ the immigrant in a managerial or executive capacity).

What are the advantages of an EB1A green card compared to other employment-based classification green cards?

There are several advantages of an EB1A green cardcompared to other employment-based classification green cards, as follows:

  • The immigrant does not need an employer or other sponsor in connection with the EB1A green card petition. Thus, the immigrant can in effect “self-petition” for an EB1A green card;
  • The immigrant is not subject to the PERM Labor Certification process to qualify for an EB1A green card. The PERM Labor Certification process (which applies to certain other employment-based classification green cards) can delay the processing of a green card application; and
  • Under certain circumstance, the immigrant is eligible for concurrent filing of two of the principal documents required by USCIS to approve an EB1A green card application –Form I-140, “Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers”(“Form I-140”) and Form I-485, “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status” (“Form I-485”) (as described below).Concurrent filing (which is not available for all employment-based classification green cards) can expedite the processing of a green card application.

Who qualifies for an EB1A green card?

To qualify for an EB1A green card:

  • The immigrant has “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. This “extraordinary ability” has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.  The achievements of the “extraordinary ability”immigrant have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation;
  • The immigrant seeks to enter the United States to continue work in the area of “extraordinary ability”;
  • The immigrant’s entry into the United States will substantially benefit prospectively the United States; and
  • The immigrant is admissible to the United States, which is required for all green card applicants. Common grounds of inadmissibility include malignant infectious disease, criminal history, terrorism, national security, visa fraud, violation of nonimmigrant status, unauthorized employment in the U.S., removal proceeding.

What are the key EB1A green card requirements?

The key requirement to obtain an EB1A green card is that the immigrant has “extraordinary ability”.

“Extraordinary ability”has been defined asa level of expertise indicating that anindividual is one of such small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

What are the EB1A green card eligibility criteria?

There generally are two sets of eligibility criteria for an immigrant to demonstrate “extraordinary ability” for purposes of an EB1A green card.To qualify for an EB1A green card, either:

  1. There is evidence of a one-time achievement. This achievement would be a major internationally-recognized award, such as a Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar, or an Olympic medal; or
  2. There is evidence of at least 3 of the following 10 criteria (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;
  • Evidence of the immigrant’s membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members;
  • Evidence of published material about the immigrant in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  • Evidence that the immigrant has been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel;
  • Evidence of the immigrant’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field;
  • Evidence of the immigrant’s authorship of scholarly articlesin professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  • Evidence that the immigrant’s work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  • Evidence of the immigrant’s performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations;
  • Evidence that the immigrant commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field; and
  • Evidence of the immigrant’s commercial successes in the performing arts.

In addition, the immigrant must provide evidence that the immigrant is coming to the United States to continue work in the area of expertise.  Such evidence generally may include letters from prospective employers, evidence of prearranged commitments, such as contracts, or a statement from the immigrant detailing plans on how the immigrant intends to continue work in the United States.

It is important to remember that the burden of proof in an EB1A green card case is with the immigrant.

Letters of endorsement are often used in EB1A green card petitions.  However, USCIS has stated that letters of endorsement, while not without weight, should not form the cornerstone of a successful claim to obtain an EB1A green card.  Rather, the statements made by witnesses should be corroborated by documentary evidence in the record.  Letters of endorsement should explain in specific terms why the witnesses believed the immigrant to be of “extraordinary ability” and not merely reiterate USCIS’ definitions. 

The relationship or affiliation between the immigrant and the witness is also a factor to be considered when evaluating witnesses’ statements.  It is generally expected that an immigrant whose accomplishments have garnered sustained national or international acclaim would have received recognition for the immigrant’s accomplishments well beyond the circle of the immigrant’s personal and professional acquaintances.

While it may seem difficult to prove “extraordinary ability”, it is certainly not an impossible task. Statistics from UCSIS show that 54,596 immigrants were approved for EB1A green cards from 2009 through 2019. You may refer to our article “EB1A Visa Eligibility Criteria: A Complete Guide” to learn more about 10 eligibility criteria.

How long does it take to obtain an EB1A green card?

The first step to obtain an EB1A green card is to file Form I-140 with USCIS.  Form I-140 is nine pages and requests various information, including concerning the immigrant applying for an EB1A green card (name, address, Social Security Number, if any, USCIS Online Account Number, if any,date, state, city, and country of birth, country of citizenship or nationality, Alien Registration Number, if any, occupation, and annual income), the “Petition Type” (Box 1.a. should be checked for an EB1A green card application), such immigrant’s last arrival in the United States (if the immigrant is in the United States), whether such immigrant will apply for an EB1A green card in the United States through adjustment of status or abroad through consular processing (as described below), the proposed employment of such immigrant, and any spouse and children of such immigrant (the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of an EB1A green card applicant also may be able to obtain green cards based on the principal application).

If Form I-140 is approved by USCIS, the specific second step to obtain an EB1A green carddepends on whether the immigrant is then in the United States.  If the immigrant is in the United States and keeping a legal status, the immigrant can file Form I-485 to obtain the EB1A green card through adjustment of status if the visa number is current; as described above, it is possible to file Form I-485 together with Form I-140 under concurrent filing.  If the immigrant is abroad, the immigrant will file Form DS-260, “Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application” (“Form DS-260”) to obtain the EB1A green card through consular processing.  Based on consular processing, you do not need to be in the United States to file for an EB1A green card.

While there is no precise amount of time involved in every EB1A green card application, as every case is different, it can be estimated that on average it will take approximately 6 to 24 months to obtain an EB1A green card.

It should be noted that an immigrant may want to take advantage of premium processing to expedite the approval of an EB1A green card.  By filing FormI-907, “Request for Premium Processing Service”, and paying an additional fee (as described below), the immigrant can receive a decision on an I-140 petition within 15 days.

How much does it cost to obtain an EB1A green card?

In obtaining an EB1A green card, two of the principal costs are form filing fees and lawyer fees.

For the various EB1A green card-related forms described above, the current filing fees are:

  • Form I-140 – $700;
  • Form I-485(if adjustment of status applies) – $1,140, plus an $85 biometrics services fee for persons between 14 and 78 years of age;
  • Form DS-260 and Immigrant Visa Fee (if consular processing applies) – $345 and $220; and
  • Form I-907 (if premium processing is sought) – $2,500.

As qualifying for an EB1A green card can involve complex issues, it is not recommended that immigrants attempt to obtain an EB1A green card by themselves.  Instead, it is recommended that immigrants hire a lawyer to assist with the EB1A green card process.  The lawyer should have knowledge, expertise, and experience concerning the EB1A green card process.

Can I apply for an EB1A green card again if my first EB1A application is denied?

There is no guarantee that an EB1A green card application will be approved.It is not easy to prove “extraordinary ability”. 

An immigrant can apply for an EB1A green card again if the immigrant’s initial EB1A green card application was denied.

If additional evidence is now available or if the case was not properly filed initially (including if it was filed by the immigrant without the assistance of a lawyer with knowledge, expertise, and experience concerning the EB1A green card process), “re-filing” an initially denied EB1A green card application can be prudent for the immigrant.

Can I apply for an EB1A green card while other immigrant petition is pending with USCIS?

Yes, you can. Before you obtain a green card, you can apply for as more types of immigrant petitions as you can as long as you are qualified for such immigrant category.

Conclusion

A green card undoubtedly can be beneficial for a foreigner interested in the United States.  EB1A green cards can offer an additional benefit – the benefit to the United States from having a person with “extraordinary ability” enter the country. As described above, it is a requirement to qualify for an EB1A green card that the immigrant’s entry into the United States will substantially benefit prospectively the United States.  By following the guidelines described in this article and obtaining an EB1A green card, the immigrant can enhance not only the lives of the immigrant and the immigrant’s family, but also the lives of others in the United States.

If you have any further questions about your EB1A green card, the eligibility criteria, or any other immigration concerns, please contact DYgreencard.com at 888-919-8555 or [email protected] or schedule an appointment online today. We offer a one-time free evaluation for EB1A cases.  We are here to help!