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EB1A Green Card

What is the EB1A Visa? 

The EB1A visa is an immigrant visa that allows individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics to permanently come to the United States for employment within their field of expertise. 

Is the EB1A Visa a Green Card? 

Yes. Sometimes referred to as a permanent work visa or immigrant visa, the employment-based (EB) visas are also called “green cards” because they allow recipients to live and work permanently in the United States as a lawful permanent resident (LPR). Any immigrant visa is also referred to as a green card because of its permanent status. 

There are some visas that allow visa holders to live and work in the United States, but do not allow them to do so permanently. These are referred to as non-immigrant visas, and are not considered “green cards” because they only allow visa holders to live and work in the United States temporarily.

Why is a Green Card Better than a Temporary Visa? 

There are several benefits to receiving an EB1A green card instead of a temporary visa.

EB1A is Permanent 

For starters, the EB1A visa (also referred to as a green card) is permanent, which means EB1A visa holders can live permanently in the United States as a lawful permanent resident (LPR). The EB1A visa has no time limit to its validity, except that EB1A visa holders must apply to renew their EB1A visa every 10 years.

Self-Petition for EB1A Green Card

Additionally, when compared to similar non-immigrant employment visas, the EB1A visa is preferable because EB1A visa applicants do not need a U.S. employer to file a petition on their behalf. Instead, an applicant can file a petition for the EB1A on their own without first proving they have an employer or a permanent job offer from an employer in the United States. The applicant must only demonstrate that they will continue working in the field in which they have extraordinary abilities, even if they are self-employed.

No Labor Certification for the EB1A Green Card

The EB1A application process is made easier than comparable non-immigrant visa applications because EB1A visa applicants are not required to receive a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. This saves EB1A applicants time and expedites the application process. 

The application process is also generally quicker for EB1A visa applicants because visa numbers are usually current for the EB1 category. This means that EB1A visa applicants do not have to wait to obtain an EB1A visa because they are more readily available than other types of visas. This reduces the wait time for applicants before they can apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (green card status) by filing Form I-485. 

Benefits of Lawful Permanent Resident Status

As lawful permanent residents (LPRs), EB1A green card holders enjoy benefits that non-immigrant visa holders do not. This includes the ability to accept an offer of employment without special restrictions. Additionally, LPRs are permitted to own property in the United States and can receive financial assistance at public universities and colleges. Moreover, LPRs can enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Perhaps most importantly, EB1A green card holders are permitted to apply to be naturalized United States citizens if they have been living in the United States on lawful permanent residence status for at least five years. 

Can Temporary Visa Holders Apply for an EB1A Green Card? 

Yes. Generally, individuals who are already in the United States under a temporary visa may apply for a EB1A Green Card without first leaving the United States. This process is known as adjustment of status. However, some temporary visas do not allow “dual intent,” which means the temporary visa holder must only intend to stay in the United States for the temporary duration of their non-immigrant visa.

Non-immigrant visa holders who are eligible to apply for a Green Card without first leaving the United States can do so through a process known as Adjustment of Status.  These applicants must file both Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status according to each form’s instructions. Both forms are submitted to the USCIS.

How to Qualify for an EB1A Green Card? 

Applicants for the EB1A visa must meet certain criteria in order to qualify as having an “extraordinary ability” in their field of expertise.

In order to prove an applicant has an extraordinary ability in the fields of science, arts, education, business, or athletics, he or she must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in their field of expertise.

They must do so by providing evidence of:

  • Receipt of a one-time major, internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize; or
  • At least three of the following forms of documentation:
    • Documentation of the applicant’s receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
    • Documentation of the applicant’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
    • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the applicant, relating to the applicant’s work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation;
    • Evidence of the applicant’s participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization to that for which classification is sought;
    • Evidence of the applicant’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
    • Evidence of the applicant’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;
    • Evidence that the applicant’s work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases; 
    • Evidence that the applicant has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
    • Evidence that the applicant has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence;
    • Evidence of the applicant’s commercial success in the performing arts;
  • If the above criteria do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish the beneficiary’s eligibility. 8 CFR 214.2(o)(3)(iii)(A)(B) 

After an applicant submits evidence to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the USCIS will evaluate the documentation to determine whether it proves that the applicant has risen to the top of his or her field of expertise.

The strength of the evidence will be determined by the USCIS by comparing the applicant’s evidence of extraordinary ability with others in the field who have demonstrated extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability is not determined by comparing the applicant to the general population. Instead, the USCIS will compare it to the applicant’s peers in his or her field of expertise. 

How Long Does it Take to Receive an EB1A Green Card? 

EB1A green card petitions generally take around 8 months or longer for the USCIS to process and approve the green card. 

Applicants for the EB1A visa may select to have premium processing for their petition, which expedites the processing time to be 15 days maximum. However, premium processing costs the applicant $2,500 and must be submitted with Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.

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Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.

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