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The EB-1 Immigration Process


If you are a highly distinguished professional in your field and can demonstrate a skill that has sustained national or international acclaim, you might be able to apply for a U.S. green card through the first preference employment-based immigration category. Known more commonly as the EB-1 visa, this employment-based green card pathway grants the first-preference visa to those who have achieved extraordinary or outstanding accomplishments in their respective field.

However, as useful as this system is for becoming a U.S. permanent resident, the steps for completing the EB-1 immigration process can be difficult to understand. Here is everything to know about the EB-1 immigration process, including who can apply for it and what evidence they need to verify their eligibility.

Fulfill the EB-1 Immigrant Visa Requirements

One of the very first steps for completing the EB-1 immigrant visa process is to fulfill the requirements for obtaining the visa, which can take years to accomplish. Professionals at the very top of virtually any field can pursue the EB-1 visa, including the arts, athletics, business, education, science, and other many industries.

The individuals who wish to apply for the EB-1 immigrant visa must also continue their work in their respective field, regardless of whether they have a job offer awaiting them in the United States, and demonstrate that their excellence will contribute to American society.

Submit the Necessary Documentation and Evidence

The next steps for completing the EB-1 immigration process involve providing proof of their expertise. Those who have achieved a single, internationally renowned award, such as a Nobel or Pulitzer Prize, can highlight this achievement to fulfill the EB-1 criteria. However, those that have not achieved such an international award can prove their qualifications in other ways.

Individuals who wish to obtain the EB-1 immigrant visa but do not have an international award to utilize must fulfill three of the following criteria:

  • Appearance in the media or publication for your achievements.
  • An invitation to assess and judge the work of others on a professional level.
  • Artwork displayed at a show or exhibition.
  • Demonstration that one plays a vital or leading role in their respective organization.
  • Evidence that a lesser award, nationally or internationally recognized, was earned.
  • Financial success in the arts, as shown by high box office sales or similar means.
  • Original written work published in a major publication.
  • Membership in an organization or association which requires their members to fulfill exemplary achievements.
  • Evidence of original contributions that are of major significance to your field.
  • Significantly high compensation as related to others in your field.

After meeting the needed criteria, an individual must fill out a USCIS I-140 petition form and then submit it along with other forms of identification such as a birth certificate or a passport. For Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A), you may self-petition, but for Outstanding Professor or Researcher (EB-1B), an employer needs to submit an I-140 on your behalf. Upon the approval of the I-140 form, you can then submit an I-485 application to adjust your status to permanent resident.

Wait for the EB-1 Immigrant Visa to Process

While the EB-1 visa is usually the fastest employment-based route to obtain a U.S. green, there can still be a long waiting period. The processing time for the EB-1 petition can vary greatly, involving many factors outside the foreign national’s control, including USCIS’ published processing times. Historically, processing the petition is around one year, and the permanent residence (green card) can also take a year or more to process after the approval of the I-140 form. The exact processing times can depend on USCIS processing times and case-specific facts.

While waiting can take more than a year, there is a way to expedite the process. With premium processing, you or your employer can pay a fee to have USCIS review your I-140 petition within 15 calendar days of receiving it. However, this does not influence the likelihood that the petition will be approved; it only reduces the time it takes for the form to be processed. Premium processing also does not affect your place in a quota backlog if there is one for your country of birth.

If the EB-1 visa isn’t a fit for you, sometimes the National Interest Waiver is a better option. For help learning about other immigration programs, such as the EB-2 National Interest Waiver, consult Klasko Immigration Law Partners for custom immigration solutions.

  • EB-1 Immigration

    The EB-1 team includes attorneys and technical writers who are dedicated to assisting doctors, scientists, artists, entertainers, entrepreneurs, and other highly skilled professionals.

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