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.
How an Immigration Attorney Can Help
Applying for an EB1A visa can be overwhelming because the application requirements and process is confusing, complicated, and sometimes frustrating. Finding the right immigration attorney to help you through the application process, and any issues along the way, can be the difference between Green Card approval or denial.
Eligibility and the Application Process
The eligibility requirements for the EB1A visa can leave some individuals unsure whether they qualify as having an extraordinary ability. Sometimes individuals believe they meet the extraordinary ability requirement when in fact they do not, and vice versa. Consulting an experienced immigration attorney can be key to determining whether the EB1A visa is best for you, or if some other visa is more suitable.
There are several different eligibility criteria that applicants can meet in order to qualify for the EB1A visa. However, it can be difficult for applicants to understand what type of evidence is most likely to prove their eligibility for the EB1A visa. Evidence of eligibility must also be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with specific forms and compiled according to USCIS requirements.
The EB1A application process can be especially confusing because applicants have to adhere to the United States Department of State’s Visa Bulletin by filing specific forms at certain times. Moreover, the Visa Bulletin can be confusing to understand for non-attorneys. Having an experienced immigration attorney help you analyze what evidence is best for you to qualify for the EB1A visa, and how that evidence should be presented in the application process, can go a long way to improving your chances of receiving approval.
Maintaining Green Card Status and Applying for Citizenship
Since the EB1A visa is a Green Card, which allows you to live in the United States permanently, having an EB1A visa attorney can help you adhere to all the requirements that come with permanent residency in the United States. Moreover, your EB1A attorney can help you petition for U.S. citizenship, which Green Card holders are eligible to do. Having an attorney who is familiar with your case and history can be extremely helpful when it comes time to petition for U.S. citizenship.
How to Choose the Best EB1A Visa Attorney
There are a variety of factors that applicants should consider when selecting the best attorney for their EB1A visa application. Below are some tips for choosing the best immigration attorney for you.
Find the Right Kind of Immigration Attorney
Immigration is a broad field of law in the United States. There are immigration attorneys who focus on adoption, business, employment, or other types of cases. Some immigration attorneys focus on deportation or refugees and asylum claims. When deciding on an immigration attorney who is right for you, make sure you narrow your choices to attorneys who have a heavy focus on visas and Green Cards, and who have plenty of experience helping clients apply for an EB1A visa.
Conducting thorough research can be hugely beneficial to finding an immigration attorney that is right for you and your case. Here are some tips on how and where to find the names of great immigration attorneys.
Ask Friends, Family, and Colleagues
A great starting point for finding a quality immigration attorney is by asking family or friends if they have any suggestions or have hired an immigration attorney themselves who they would recommend.
Because the EB1A visa is specifically for employment, it is especially wise to ask your colleagues or other professional connections about any immigration attorneys they have experience with, particularly if they’ve helped with EB1A visa applications.
Search the Internet for Attorneys with EB1A Visa Experience
Most, if not all, immigration attorneys and immigration law firms have websites that describe their law practice, experience, expertise, credentials, and accolades. Additionally, doing some research on the internet can provide you with reviews and impressions other clients have had from their experience with an immigration attorney.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) offers a free immigration lawyer search feature on their website, though not all attorneys who are members of AILA will appear in the search. If you find a few good candidates to hire as your immigration attorney, you can do some research about each individually to find out more about their career, reputation, and history of working with the EB1A visa.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do when deciding which immigration attorney to hire is to meet with the candidates you would most like to hire. Consultations can take place over the phone, Zoom or other video chat, or in person and are commonly free or low-cost.
A consultation allows the attorney and yourself to determine how knowledgeable the attorney is about EB1A visas, and if you think the attorney is someone you want to work with. Do not be afraid to ask tough and specific questions at consultations. And, make sure you think critically about what you like and don’t like about the attorneys you meet with. Even if you or the attorney determine your case is not a good fit for their practice after the consultation, the attorney may have a suggestion or referral to another attorney you hadn’t considered yet.
Compare EB1A Visa Attorneys
After you have conducted research on various immigration attorneys or attended a few consultations, make sure you compare the attorneys you’ve researched or met with. You can compare their rates, their demeanor and temperament, their academic and experiential history, whether they’ve won awards, what each of them promises or recommends, and more. Comparing attorneys can help you recognize when an attorney is over-promising or is not as expert as you were hoping for because something they said or suggested does not match up with what other attorneys have said.
Avoid Unethical or Unrealistic Attorneys
Like any profession, there are some immigration attorneys who focus more on making money or procuring clients than successfully processing their clients’ cases. . Keep an eye out for attorneys who overstate their ability to successfully process your case by promising astonishingly fast processing times or guarantees that you’ll be approved or selected in a lottery, to name a couple examples.
If an attorney makes promises to you that you think are unrealistic, you may be correct. Before selecting an attorney to hire, you can cross-check the promises made by one attorney by asking another attorney if they could make the same promise, or what their opinion is about the promises made by the other attorney.
What Makes a Good EB1A Visa Attorney?
There are many different types of immigration attorneys with different strengths and areas of expertise. Below are some things you should look for when selecting an EB1A visa attorney.
Necessary Qualifications for EB1A Visa Attorneys
Here are some must-have qualifications you should keep in mind when selecting an immigration attorney for yourself or your family.
Friendly, Reliable, Sympathetic, an Communicative
It might seem simple, but it can be very important to have an EB1A visa attorney who is kind, caring, and can help you manage the stress and frustration of the immigration system. Because the EB1A application process can seem confusing, overwhelming, and involves several steps, it is especially important to have an attorney who can explain each step of the process in a way that makes sense to you. Make sure your immigration attorney is someone you feel you can trust and rely on, and is also someone who takes your concerns and your situation seriously.
Having the assistance of a trained and licensed immigration attorney is a fundamental qualification you should insist upon when selecting who to hire. Make sure you hire a licensed attorney, not a self-proclaimed “visa consultant,” “application preparer,” or even a notary. These individuals may claim to be experts in immigration law, and may even offer to help you with your immigration case at affordable rates, but they do not have the expertise of a licensed attorney. Licensed attorneys are more effective at handling emergencies, navigating complex and changing requirements, and are able to appear in court on your behalf, if necessary.
Specializes in Immigration Law
Some attorneys do not focus on a particular field of law, but instead work on a range of legal issues. Other attorneys pick a particular field of law to focus on, and in doing so, become quite expert at it. Because immigration law is so complex and unique, you should limit your choices to those who are focused solely or chiefly on immigration law when selecting an immigration attorney. Immigration attorneys are usually members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), so membership to AILA is a good sign that an attorney focuses primarily on immigration law.
Experience with the EB1A Visa
Besides specializing in immigration law, you should make sure your attorney has specific experience working with clients on EB1A visa applications. Attorneys with EB1A visa experience are more likely to be Green Card experts. The more experience an attorney has, the more expert they are, so you should narrow down your choices to attorneys who have dealt with numerous EB1A visa cases, not just a few.
Awards and Recognition
Excellent attorneys are often recognized with awards and other accolades by organizations, associations, publications, and other attorneys. After finding attorneys who specialize in immigration law and are experts at the EB1A visa process, you can identify a great attorney by narrowing down your choices to those who have been recognized by awards or other accolades related to their work in immigration law.
Access to Your Attorney
The ability to contact your attorney and have them answer your questions is invaluable when navigating the complicated immigration system. Sometimes attorneys take on too many clients while offering cheaper services. Other attorneys may take on fewer clients but charge more money for their services. It may be worth it to spend more for an attorney who will give you a greater portion of their time. At the very least, when deciding which immigration attorney to hire, ask about the number of clients they have and the amount of time they are able to spend on your case. Attorneys who can spend more time on your case are probably more prepared and able to handle emergencies or quickly respond to issues involving your EB1A case.
Speaking Your Language
There are many bi-lingual immigration attorneys out there who typically work with clients that speak their language. Whether you speak some English, or none at all, it can make a big difference to have an immigration attorney that can communicate with you in the language with which you are most comfortable.