EB-1A Visa is one of the most lucrative and exclusive pathways for obtaining the coveted U.S. Green Card. It is specifically designed to attract the best and brightest international talent to live and work in the United States. If you have achieved significant success and acclaim in your field of work, this visa may be your key to unlocking the benefits of permanent residence in the USA.
Below, we have tried to address some common queries and concerns regarding this unique visa category. For further guidance, we encourage you to contact one of our trained consultants.
What is the EB-1A Visa for USA?
The Employment-Based (EB) immigrant visa categories/preferences allow foreign workers to permanently live and work in the USA, based on their potential to be employed in the country, which depends on their skills, education, work experience, and other qualifications. The first preference (EB-1) visa allows people of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors or researchers, and executives or managers of multinational companies to permanently relocate to the United States. The employment-based first preference visa for persons with extraordinary ability is specifically known as the EB-1A visa.
What does extraordinary ability mean?
Extraordinary ability is defined through sustained national or international acclaim in the field of arts, athletics, business, education, or sciences. Achievements in the recognized field must have been recognized through extensive documentation.
What are the benefits of having an EB-1A Visa?
The EB-1A Visa is one of the most streamlined pathways for immigration to the USA. Some of the most appealing benefits of this visa include:
Applicants enjoy unrestricted access to the job market to make continued contributions to their field of work.
No requirement of job offer or Labor Certification.
Applicants can submit their petition for the EB-1A visa by themselves. A U.S. employer does not have to endorse the EB-1A visa petition/application.
The typical processing time for this visa is merely six months – which is faster than most other visa classifications, owing to concurrent filing, lack of labor certification, and no backlog of applications. There is also the option of premium processing. By paying an extra charge, applications can be processed on a priority basis – within 15 days.
This visa is a direct route to permanent residence in USA. Successful applicants receive a Green Card, allowing them and their accompanying family members to permanently live in the USA.
What are the benefits of being a Green Card of the USA?
Permanent residents/Green Card holders can:
Pay lower tuition costs in schools and colleges
Receive financial aid for healthcare and education
Travel for justifiable time periods without restrictions
Access social security benefits after working in the USA for at least 10 years
Apply for certain U.S. government jobs
Sponsor eligible relatives to join them in the United States
What is a US Labor Certification?
To sponsor overseas workers under certain immigrant and non-immigrant visa classifications, U.S. employers need to extend a valid job offer to the prospective immigrant, and submit an immigration petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Before doing so, they must obtain a Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. The Certification verifies that there are insufficient qualified U.S. workers who are available and willing to occupy the job that the foreign national has been offered, at the prevailing wage; and that employing a foreign worker will not negatively impact the working conditions and wages of existing U.S. workers employed in similar positions. Obtaining this document is a time-consuming and complicated process, which can be totally avoided when applying for an EB-1A Visa.
What is concurrent filing under EB-1A?
In the context of the EB-1A Visa, concurrent filing implies that the immigrant petition and the application for an immigrant visa can be submitted and mailed together to the same location, with required fees and supporting documents attached. Thus, the petition and the application can be processed at the same time.
This option is only available to immigrants who are adjusting to permanent resident status while already living in the United States on a valid visa. Those living outside the USA must submit their application for the immigrant visa to the Department of State. The possibility of concurrent filing is usually accessible only under very specific circumstances. However, most employment-based visa applicants and their family members, if eligible, can file both forms concurrently.
Applying for the EB-1A visa requires the applicant to submit two forms to the USCIS – the I-140 Form (Petition for Alien Worker) and the I-485 Form (Application to Register Permanent residence or Adjust Status). Typically, there is a significant gap between filing the petition and being allotted a visa number. However, filing both forms simultaneously – i.e. concurrent filing – significantly reduces the waiting period between application and outcome.
Concurrent filing is only possible when a visa number is immediately available i.e. if the priority date (date of filing the I-140 Form) matches or passes the ‘final action date’ for that month, which is determined by the Department of State. Green Card applicants under other visa categories sometimes have to wait several years for the priority date to match or pass the final action date, and become ‘current’. For the EB-1A Visa, priority dates usually remain current.
Who is eligible for the EB-1A Visa?
In order to demonstrate eligibility for the EB-1A category, candidates must either be recipients of an internationally acclaimed, major award – which qualified as a one-time achievement; or provide evidence of fulfilling any three out of the following 10 criteria:
That applicant has received lesser internationally/nationally recognized awards of excellence or prizes.
The applicant is a member of associations in their field, which require members to be outstanding achievers.
The applicant has made original contributions that have major significance in their relevant field.
There is published material about the applicant in major trade or professional publications, or other major media.
The applicant has authored scholarly articles in major trade or professional publications, or other major media.
The applicant has been invited to judge the work of others – individually or as part of a panel.
The applicant’s work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions/showcases.
The applicant has performed a critical or leading role in distinguished organizations.
The applicant commands a high salary or other form of significantly high remuneration, in comparison to other people in the field.
The applicant has had commercial success in the field of performing arts.
What is the application process for the EB-1A Visa?
Aspirants must submit the Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker) to the nearest U.S. consulate in their home country – along with required evidence to demonstrate eligibility. If a visa number is immediately available, petitioners residing in USA can simultaneously submit the Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). However, people living outside the USA must submit the Form I-485 and supporting documents at the nearest U.S. consulate in their country of residence. They may also be required to appear for an interview at the consulate. If this application is approved, USCIS grants the immigrant visa, and sends a Green Card via mail.
What documents do I need to apply for the EB-1A Visa?
The basic documentation required for the EB-1A Visa includes:
Evidence that the petitioner has received sustained international or national acclaim, and their achievements are recognized in the relevant field of expertise – showcased through a one-time achievement, or by fulfilling any three of the 10 afore-mentioned eligibility factors.
Evidence that the petitioner is entering USA to continue working in their field of expertise.
Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker), and required supporting documents.
Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), and required supporting documents.
How long does it take to get an US EB-1A Visa?
The processing time for both forms depends on the applicant’s ability to accurately complete the forms and required documents, as well as the volume of applications being processed by the service Centre at any given time. The I-140 Form may be processed within five to eight months. Candidates can opt for premium processing by paying an extra fee, which will reduce the processing time to 15 days. The I-148 Form does not have a predetermined processing time. However, the required time span – especially in case of concurrent filing – is significantly lower than that of most other immigrant visa categories. Some estimates suggest that it could take six months to obtain the Green Card, if the application is submitted concurrently.
What is the cost of an EB-1A visa?
The following fees must be paid by the primary applicant as part of the EB-1A process:
Form I-140 Filing Fee: $700
Form I-485 Filing Fee: $1,140
The Biometric fee, if applicable, is $85. If the applicant wishes to avail the premium processing service, they must submit a Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) by paying a filing fee of $1,440. Additional charges apply for family members accompanying the applicant to USA. Charges for foreign workers who are applying from outside the USA can also vary.
Can I apply from outside the USA?
Yes. If you are living outside the USA, you can file an immigrant petition (Form I-140) to the USCIS. Once a visa number is available, you can apply for this immigrant visa to the Department of State, by submitting a completed Form I-485 (and supporting documents) to the nearest U.S. consulate in the country where you are currently residing. You will have to undergo an interview and answer uestions related to education, work experience, and your work in the USA. If the application is legitimate, and the applicant is qualified, the immigrant visa will be attached to their passport – allowing them to enter the USA.
How will my application be evaluated?
While assessing the petition or visa application, USCIS will check if the petitioner meets the relevant eligibility criteria, and verify the legitimacy of supporting documents, which validate the petitioner’s claims of ‘extraordinary ability’. Those who apply through consular processing will have to appear for an interview, which is an integral part of the selection process. The final outcome will also be affected by the volume of applications being processed by USCIS, and the maximum limit on the number of visas that can be granted under the EB-1A category during a particular year.
Will I have to appear for an interview?
Only those who submit an application from outside the USA are obligated to appear for an interview at the U.S. consulate in their country of residence. They will be asked questions related to their academic background, work experience, and their plan to work in their field in the USA.
What is the validity period of the EB-1A Visa?
The EB-1A Visa is valid for an indefinite period i.e. the visa holder is authorized to permanently live and work in the USA, upon receiving the Green Card.
What work can I do in the USA as an EB-1A visa holder?
You are obligated to continue working lawfully in the field within which you have displayed ‘extraordinary ability’. This could be any of the following fields:
It is important to note than Green Card holders are not authorized to run for office or apply for certain government jobs. These privileges can only be accessed after becoming a citizen.
Where can I live in the USA as an EB-1A visa holder?
The EB-1A visa holder can live and work in any U.S. state across the country.
When can I apply for citizenship?
After five years of being a Green Card holder, the EB-1A visa holder can apply for citizenship by naturalization – subject to eligibility criteria related to age, moral character, English language skills, and the place, duration, and frequency of residence in the United States.
What happens if my visa petition is rejected?
EB-1A visa applications are typically rejected or denied due to human errors in the petition, applicant’s criminal history or past visa violations, fee payment issues, or if the applicant’s evidence of their qualifications does not meet the requirements.
A ‘rejection’ implies that the petition was not eligible to be reviewed by a visa officer, while a ‘denial’ implies that the petition was evaluated by an officer, who deemed that the petitioner is not qualified for the EB-1A visa.
If a visa application is rejected due to mistakes made in the application, it can be re-filed by making certain adjustments, omitting errors and building a stronger case – unless otherwise mentioned on the rejection or denial letter.
If an application is denied or rejected based on the criminal record or lack of qualifications, the applicant will have to prove that their circumstances have changed, by requesting the officer to reconsider or reopen the case. The applicant can also appeal the decision, if the option is available.
Can I apply for the EB-1A Visa without an immigration consultant/lawyer? How can an immigration consultant/lawyer help me in the EB-1A Visa process?
It is not necessary to have an immigration consultant or lawyer in order to file a petition or visa application. Aspirants can undertake the entire process independently, provided they have the adequate knowledge of visa requirements, forms, documentation, procedures and deadlines. However, there are several benefits of hiring a consultant or lawyer:
A consultant or lawyer can evaluate the aspirant’s eligibility, and present a solid case to prove that the applicant has the required achievements to qualify for an EB-1A visa. This is important because USCIS determines ‘extraordinary ability’ on a case-by-case basis. The consultant can also suggest alternatives, if the candidate is ineligible.
A legitimate consultant with considerable experience will ensure that the visa process is completed seamlessly, by minimizing the scope of human error and thus avoiding processing delays.
The consultant or lawyer can represent the prospective immigrant’s interests – especially if the application has been rejected or declined, and needs to be re-filed.