EB-1A Extraordinary Ability Green Cards


EB 1A Immigrant Status allows the “best and brightest” immigrants to gain permanent residency in the United States based upon their “extraordinary abilities.” The EB 1A visa is the United States’ most advantageous immigration visa. It offers its recipients many immigration benefits, including the ability to self-petition (petition without a prospective employer), skip the labor certification process, premium process, and obtain permanent residency much faster than other immigrant workers. The EB-1A Green Card is for a person of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, athletics or business. The petition is filed by the individual or an employer of the individual, which can include an agent/manager in the case of an entertainer. An entrepreneur/ businessperson with documented success abroad or in the United States may qualify for an EB-1A with substantial documentation.


The EB-1A Immigrant status is available to individuals with professions in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. If you are not sure whether an immigrant’s profession is sufficient, more likely than not, it qualifies.


The qualifications for EB-1A immigrant status cannot be simplified into a simple, concise rule. The precise EB-1A standard has been debated for the last twenty years. However, the following is a general overview of the EB-1A standard. Generally speaking, an EB-1A applicant must demonstrate that he or she has extraordinary ability in the “sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.” Extraordinary ability is defined by USCIS regulations as a “level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of those few who have risen to the top of the field of endeavour.” To qualify for this Green Card, the individual must document that they have received a major award or meets at least three (preferably more) of the following:

  1. Receipt of national or internationally recognize prizes;
  2. Membership in associations that require outstanding achievement of members;
  3. Published material in professional, trade, or other media about the alien’s work;
  4. Participation on a panel judging the work of others in the field;
  5. Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions;
  6. Authorship and publication of scholarly articles in journals or other media;
  7. Previous employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations with a distinguished reputation;
  8. Has or will command a high salary in comparison to others in the field; and
  9. Any other comparable criteria that more readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation.

Satisfying three of the criteria, however, might not be sufficient. Most petitions will need to include several letters from experts or famous individuals in the field attesting to the qualifications of the applicant. Contact us to evaluate your case.


  1. Qualification Criteria: First step is to qualify for this Green Card, the individual must document that they have received a major award or meets at least three (preferably more) of the mentioned qualifications list.
  2. USCIS I-140 Petition Form: Most of the other employment-based green card categories require you to have a job offer from a U.S. employer. That employer has to go through an extensive recruitment process to obtain a PERM Labor Certification, which can greatly increase your green card processing time. One of the main benefits of the EB-1A is that it does not require a PERM Labor Certification or a job offer from a U.S. employer. The applicant is able to file a “self-petition” on the USCISI-140 form. This is one of the speediest methods of receiving a green card.
  3. USCIS I-485 Application: Once your I-140 is approved and your priority date is current, you will need to submit your I-485 Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status in order to change your status to EB-1A. If the USCIS approves this application, you will officially be a legal permanent resident in the U.S.

Processing Time

Another invaluable benefit of the EB-1A is the expedited processing time. Other green card categories not only require an employer to go through the PERM process, but they also have backlogs that can substantially increase the wait time. When you file your I-140 petition, that date becomes your priority date. Each month, the Department of State releases a visa bulletin that gives the “final action dates” for that particular month. If your priority date matches or passes the final action date in your country, then a visa number will become available and you can file your I-485 application. While applicants of some other green card categories must wait several years for their priority date to current, the EB-1 category tends to have all current dates, meaning that you can adjust your status as soon as your I-140 is approved. However, this is not always the case, and there have been instances where the dates have retrogressed for the EB-1 category. Be sure to check the most recent bulletin to be sure. As for your I-140 processing time, this heavily depends on the caseload of the service center that processes your petition. On average, however, it tends to be around 6 months. If this is too long for you, you can opt for premium processing. This service provided by the USCIS will shorten your petition’s processing time to 15 calendar days for an extra fee. If the USCIS does not meet this deadline, you will be refunded your premium processing fee.


The EB-1A Extraordinary Ability category has a number of advantages including:

  1. Not requiring a permanent job offer in the U.S. or a labor certification.
  2. Typically faster than the LCA process because you can file a petition and your application for permanent residency simultaneously (also known as concurrent filing).
  3. There is greater flexibility than the labor certification process and you are able to change jobs sooner.
  4. Self-petitioning is permitted which means it doesn’t require the signature of someone at the institution or company you are working.


You must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability, so being just average or good will not suffice. Sometimes, it can be less predictable than the labor certification process although this depends greatly from case to case. Because the USCIS itself defines extraordinary ability on a case-by-case basis, it is important to have an EB-1A lawyer work with you to make sure that your case is solid.

How We Can Help Obtain Your EB-1A Visa

For EB-1A visas, emphasis is placed on applicants’ personal achievements in their fields, which serve to demonstrate their stature at the top of their line of work. A careful approach that defines the alien’s field, situates the alien in said field, and then compiles evidence of the alien’s achievements is essential to a successful EB-1A petition. Following this approach under the guidance of an experienced attorney will boost your chances of success. At Rai & Associates, experienced attorneys will first evaluate your situation in order to select personalized options for a potential immigration petition. You can always start this process by sending us your resume either by e-mail to info@hsrai.com or by fax to +1 415-693-9135. After reviewing your resume, we’ll have a frank discussion with you regarding your ability to secure an EB-1A visa. If we find you would be better served by pursuing an alternative visa category, we will advise you as to which other classification types are best for you, including, for example, EB-1B, NIW, or labor certification.

Our EB-1A visa attorneys experience benefits you in several key areas. We:

  • Clarify options and potential scenarios surrounding your case.
  • Assist you in collecting the proper information and documentation.
  • Correctly classify the application and ensure requirements are met.
  • Prepare and submit all USCIS and Department of Labor (DOL) forms and documentation.
  • Communicate with the DOL and USCIS throughout the process.
  • Monitor the entire EB-1A visa immigration application process.

EB-1A Visa Attorney Experience & Responsiveness that Makes a Difference. Our EB-1A Attorney Pledge:

  • 100% commitment to processing your EB-1A Visa quickly & successfully.
  • Strong EB-1A Visa attorney experience & knowledge.
  • Open EB-1A Attorney communication & responsiveness is among our top priority.
  • Highest level of EB-1A Visa Attorney service at an affordable FLAT rate.
  • Some EB-1A Visa applications can be submitted in as little as 1-2 weeks.
  • To discuss your case call: (415)-693-9131 or Mail Us.
Something very important you may want to know

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. 1
    What are the minimum documentary requirements for EB-1A petitions?

    An EB-1A petition consists of Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, and supporting documents that show that the beneficiary meets EB-1A criteria. The specific documents required depend on which criteria a specific petition is attempting to satisfy.

  2. 2
    Who has the burden of proof in an EB-1A petition?

    The burden of proof in EB-1A cases rests solely with the petitioner and his or her attorney.

  3. 3
    If I have the choice between filing an EB-1A or EB-1B petition, which petition should I choose?

    It depends. If you meet the criteria for both petitions, we generally recommend that you choose the EB-1A route, since you’re able to file on your own behalf and you won’t be bound to any one employer. An EB-1B petition, however, requires a job offer and sponsorship of an employer. In addition, a change of employers while your petition is pending may affect your pending EB-1B case. Of course, your particular situation may differ depending on individual facts and circumstances. Please consult with one of our experienced immigration attorneys for more information.

  4. 4
    Can I file both an EB-1A and an EB-1B at the same time?

    Yes. In fact, many of our clients opt to file both petitions simultaneously. Oftentimes, one petition will be approved before the other. And if one petition is denied for some reason, then obviously there is still a chance that the other pending petition will be approved.

  5. 5
    I’m a Ph.D. student. Can I still apply for an EB-1A?

    Yes. We have had multiple successful outcomes in cases involving Ph.D. students applying for EB-1 visas. That said, it may be more challenging for a Ph.D. student to get an EB-1A petition approved since, generally speaking, it’s more difficult for a student to convince USCIS that he or she has risen to top of his or her field (i.e. compared to an established professional).

  6. 6
    Could an artist or musician qualify for an EB-1A?

    Yes. Our firm has successfully represented many musicians, painters, singers, dancers, and other performing artists.

  7. 7
    What will happen if I change jobs while my EB-1A petition is pending?

    In a word, nothing. EB-1A applicants can self-petition because neither a job offer nor an employer’s sponsorship is required. However, as long as you remain in the same field, your profession can change.

  8. 8
    I’d like to file an EB-1A petition, but I’m planning to move to a different state. What will happen to my petition after I move?

    In a word, nothing. Your petition will remain active, and your move will have no effect. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will contact your attorney with its decision on your case. Note, however, that within 10 days of your move, you’ll still need to file an AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card, which serves to notify USCIS of your new address.

  9. 9
    Do I need to live in the U.S. to apply for an EB-1A?

    No. Any alien, regardless of where he or she resides, can apply for an EB-1A visa, provided, or course, that he or she meets the EB-1A requirements.

  10. 10
    In the context of an EB-1A petition, what is a letter of recommendation?

    It’s a letter written by an expert in the alien’s field or by some otherwise authoritative person in an allied or supporting field. The letter discusses the abilities and accomplishments of the alien seeking an EB-1A. In terms of the documentary evidence needed in an EB-1A petition, letters of recommendation play a critical role.

  11. 11
    From whom should I obtain my letters of recommendation?

    Recommendation letters should be written by experts or scholars in your field. Usually, our clients ask their former professors, supervisors, coworkers, or peers they’ve met at meetings or conferences. We recommend asking people who are not too personally familiar with you since such individuals are more objective in their testimony about you. Ultimately, though, anyone who knows and can speak to your work whether directly or indirectly and who has expertise in your field is the sort of person you would want to write a letter of recommendation for your application.

  12. 12
    Once filed, how long does it take USCIS to render a decision on a case?

    It depends. The quickest turnaround for approval we’ve experienced was 24 hours. Generally, however, EB-1A processing takes between six months and a year. Since November 13, 2006, premium processing, which guarantees processing within 15 days, has been available to EB-1A visa applicants, and so if you’re looking to speed up the process and don’t mind spending an extra $1,225, then this service might be for you.

  13. 13
    After my EB-1A is approved, do I have to continue working in the same field as indicated in my petition?

    Yes, you must continue working in the field specified in your EB-1A petition. If you venture into another area, USCIS may deny your application for adjustment of status or even revoke your permanent residency after your Form I-485 is approved.

  14. 14
    What is a Request for Additional Evidence?

    Sometimes, the adjudicating USCIS officer is unconvinced that an EB-1A applicant has adequately satisfied the extensive criteria required for a successful petition. Rather than outright deny the application, in such cases, USCIS will typically ask the petitioner for more information in what is called a Request for Additional Evidence, or RFE. Our attorneys strive to ensure that the original EB-1A petitions we submit on behalf of our clients are so strong that an RFE is not issued. But since there’s ultimately no way to predict whether or not a particular USCIS officer will request more evidence, we’ll always be prepared to respond promptly. When this happens, our firm still enjoys a near-perfect approval rate.


Please provide your quick information.

EB-1A Visa Attorney Consultation

      This website is meant solely for the purpose of information and not for the purposes of providing legal advice. The website owners do not claim copy right on any article, document or judgement posted in this site.


      San Francisco: 415-693-9131