Jul 02, 2024 Immigration Law

How to Qualify for an EB-1A Extraordinary Ability Green Card

An EB-1A green card is a great option for those who qualify because of its many benefits. However, it is a limited category available only to certain applicants with extraordinary abilities. The requirements are stringent, and individuals who believe they may be eligible must provide extensive documentation. Before applying for an EB-1A, it is important to understand the criteria used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

What Are the Requirements for an EB-1A Visa?

The EB-1A is an employment-based green card category for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. These are individuals recognized as being at the top of their field. 

There are two ways to qualify for the visa. The first way is to demonstrate a one-time achievement, such as receipt of a major internationally recognized award (e.g., Oscar, Pulitzer, Nobel Prize, Olympic medal, etc.). 

The second is to provide evidence of three of the ten listed criteria below (or comparable evidence if any of the criteria do not readily apply):

  1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence;
  2. Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members;
  3. Published material about the applicant in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  4. Requests for the applicant to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel;
  5. Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field;
  6. Authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  7. Work displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  8. Performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations;
  9. Receipt of a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field;
  10. Commercial successes in the performing arts.

Why Is an EB-1A Visa Beneficial?

Unlike other employment-based green card categories, an applicant can self-sponsor. No U.S. employer or job offer is required, but the applicant must show they are seeking a green card to obtain work in their field of expertise. Self-sponsorship makes the application process faster. Some other green card categories require employers to first file with the Department of Labor and test the job market to show that there are no qualified U.S. job applicants available before they hire a noncitizen. This is time-consuming and lengthens the application process. 

An EB-1A green card can also be faster to obtain because there are fewer qualifying applicants; therefore, the annual green card quota is less frequently met than other green card categories.

How Is Evidence of Extraordinary Ability Presented?

The USCIS exercises a high level of scrutiny in this category. Applicants must thoroughly document their achievements and demonstrate that their accomplishments are extraordinary as compared to their peers. To accomplish this, it is important to consult an attorney who understands what information to gather and present and can assist with developing a strong case for approval of the visa.

Our attorneys have extensive experience with helping clients submit successful EB-1A applications. If you have questions about the EB-1A green card category or need assistance with filing, please feel free to contact any of our attorneys to discuss your situation.

NOTICE: Material provided on this website has been prepared by Kauff McGuire & Margolis LLP solely for general informational purposes, and it is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice. Material provided on the website is not privileged and does not create an attorney-client relationship with the Firm or any of its lawyers.