EB1A Visa Guide: Everything You Need to Know About the EB1A Visa

EB1A VISA GUIDE - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE EB1A VISA

 

The EB1A visa is a great option for people with extraordinary abilities in the arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics.

 

With an EB1A visa, you can get your green card without a job offer from a US company.  And, because the EB1A visa is eligible for premium processing, your application can be reviewed in just 15 days.

 

In this guide, I’m going to explain what you need to know about the EB1A visa.

 

If you have any questions about the EB1A visa, email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. My team of US immigration lawyers and I would be happy to help you get your EB1A visa.

 

Overview:

 

1. What is the EB1A Visa?

 

2. What are the Benefits of an EB1A Visa?

 

3. What are the EB1A Visa Requirements? (How to Get an EB1A Visa)

 

4. How Does USCIS Decide Whether to Approve or Deny an EB1A Visa Petition?

 

5. What Documents are Needed to Apply for an EB1A Visa?

 

6. Conclusion

 

1. What is the EB1A Visa?

 

The EB1A visa is an immigrant visa for people that are highly gifted in certain industries. Specifically, the EB1A visa is for foreign nationals that have an extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics.

 

In order to get an EB1A visa, you must prove that you have an extraordinary ability, and that you will continue to work in your field of extraordinary ability upon coming to the United States.

 

Extraordinary ability means that you are one of the select few people who have risen to the very top of your field. There are multiple ways of proving extraordinary ability, such as receiving major awards in your industry, receiving a very high salary compared to others in your field, and other such factors (these will be discussed in detail below).

 

The EB1A classification is an immigrant classification so it qualifies for a green card for the applicant, their spouse, and children. Also, the EB1A classification is eligible for self-petition, so an applicant can file the application on their own behalf without a foreign company applying for them.

 

Summary:

 

  • The EB1A visa is an immigrant visa for people with an extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, athletics, or education.

 

  • The EB1A is reserved for people who have risen to the very top of their field.

 

  • In order to get an EB1A visa, you must show that you have an extraordinary ability and that you will continue to work in your field of extraordinary ability upon coming to the United States.

2. What are the Benefits of an EB1A Visa?

 

The EB1A visa does not require a US company sponsor:

 

  • Most employment-based immigrant visas require you to get a job offer from a US company.

 

  • The US company is also usually required to get an approved Labor Certification. A Labor Certification is a document showing that the US employer made attempts and was unable to get a qualified US worker to fill the position they are hiring you for.

 

  • With the EB1A visa, you do not need a US job offer or a Labor Certification.

 

  • Instead, you can apply for an EB1A visa by self-petition (meaning that you can apply yourself without a company sponsoring you).

 

The EB1A visa is an immigrant visa:

 

  • There are 2 types of visas: immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas.

 

  • Immigrant visas result in a green card and lawful permanent residency.

 

  • Non-immigrant visas are temporary and do not result in a green card.

 

  • Because the EB1A visa is an immigrant visa, if you are successful in your EB1A visa application, you qualify for a US green card.

 

  • Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age can also obtain their green cards through your EB1A visa approval.

 

The EB1A visa is eligible for premium processing:

 

  • Premium processing is a service offered by USCIS for certain visa categories.

 

  • If you elect to have premium processing for your visa petition, USCIS will review your petition and issue a response within 15 days.

 

  • The fee for premium processing is $1,440

 

  • Because the EB1A visa is eligible for premium processing, you can have your petition reviewed and answered within 15 days. This is much faster than most other visas.

 

3. What are the EB1A Visa Requirements? (How to Get an EB1A Visa)

 

 

To get an EB1A visa, you need to prove 3 things:

 

  • That you have an extraordinary ability in either the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

 

  • That you are coming to the United States to continue working in your field of extraordinary ability.

 

  • That your entry to the United States will substantially benefit the United States.

 

How to Prove That You Have Extraordinary Ability

 

  • Proving that you have extraordinary ability is the most important part of the EB1A visa application.

 

  • This section is so important that I’m going to go through it step-by-step.

 

1. What is Extraordinary Ability?

 

  • Extraordinary ability is “a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.” [8CFR Section 204.5(h)(2)]

 

2. How do You Prove that You Have Extraordinary Ability?

 

  • To prove that you have extraordinary ability you must provide evidence that you have “sustained national or international acclaim” and that your “achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise.” [8CFR Section 204.5(h)(3)]

 

3. How do You Prove that You Have Sustained National or International Acclaim and That Your Achievements have Been Recognized in Your Field of Expertise?

 

There are 2 ways to prove this:

 

  • Evidence of a one-time achievement

 

  • OR evidence that you meet 3 of the 10 evidentiary criteria for an EB1A visa (discussed below)

 

One-Time Achievement

 

  • A one-time achievement must be a major, internationally recognized award.

 

  • Examples of a one-time achievement are: the Nobel Peace Prize, an Academy Award, a Grammy, etc.

 

  • If you have one of these major, internationally recognized awards, this will likely be sufficient to prove that you have sustained national or international acclaim and that your achievements have been recognized in your field of expertise.

 

  • If you do not have one of these awards, you will have to meet at least 3 of the 10 criteria discussed below.

 

Evidentiary Criteria for EB1A Visa

 

As stated above, if you do not have a major national or international award or recognition, you must satisfy at least 3 of the following requirements:

 

  • Receipt of  lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in your field of endeavor

 

  • Membership in associations in your field of endeavor, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields

 

  • Published material about you, in professional or major trade publications or other major media, relating to your work in your field of endeavor

 

  • Participation, either as an individual or as part of a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization for which classification is sought

 

  • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in your field of endeavor

 

  • Authorship of scholarly articles in your field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media

 

  • The display of your work in your field at artistic exhibitions or showcases

 

  • You have performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation

 

  • You have commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, in relation to others in your field

 

  • You have achieved commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.

 

Keep in mind:

 

  • If one of these categories does not apply to your field of extraordinary ability, you may submit comparable evidence to demonstrate your eligibility for an EB1A visa.

 

  • For example, if you are a world renowned chef, you may not have evidence of commercial success in the performing arts. Instead, you might have evidence of very high commercial success for a cook-book that you authored.

 

  • In these situations, it is important to show why the criteria doesn't apply to your case and to explain why the evidence you are submitted should be accepted as a substitute.

 

How to Prove That you are Coming to the United States to Continue Working in Your Field of Extraordinary Ability.

 

In addition to proving that you have extraordinary ability, you must also show with clear evidence that you are coming to the USA to continue to work in your field of extraordinary ability.

 

You can meet this requirement by submitting any of the following evidence:

 

  • Letters from potential employers in your field of extraordinary ability

 

  • Contracts between you and US companies showing that you are committed to working in your field of extraordinary ability

 

  • A written statement by you with details of your plans to come to the United States and continue to work in your field of extraordinary ability

 

  • You are not required to have a job offer

 

How to Prove That Your Entry to the United States will Substantially Benefit the United States.

 

  • The final requirement to get an EB1A visa is that you must show that your entry to the United States will substantially benefit the United States.

 

  • It is generally assumed that if you will be working in the United States in your area of extraordinary ability, then you will be substantially benefitting the United States in some fashion.

 

  • Therefore, to meet this requirement, you generally don't need to submit evidence other than a written statement that your entry to the United States will substantially benefit the United States based on the fact that you will be working in your area of extraordinary ability.

 

4. How Does USCIS Decide Whether to Approve or Deny an EB1A Visa Petition?

 

USCIS has a 2-step process when determining whether to approve of deny an EB1A petition:

 

  • Step-1: Evidentiary Threshold

 

  • Step-2: Final Merits Determination

 

Step-1 Evidentiary Threshold

 

  • At this stage, USCIS checks to make sure that you have submitted evidence to satisfy at least 3 of the 10 categories listed above.

 

  • The quality and the caliber of the evidence you submit is measured during this stage.

 

  • If you do not meet at least 3 of the 10 criteria, then you application is denied at this stage.

 

  • At this stage, USCIS is not determining whether you are one of the select few that have risen to the top of your field.

 

Step-2 Final Merits Determination

 

  • At this stage, USCIS evaluates the totality of the evidence you have submitted to determine if you are individual of extraordinary ability.

 

  • It is at this stage where USCIS determines whether you are one of the select few who has risen to the top of your field.

 

  • Here, USCIS is also evaluating whether you have "sustained national or international acclaim" and whether your achievements have been recognized in your field of expertise.

 

Quick Summary of the Evaluation Process

 

  • Many people think that because they can check-off 3 of the evidentiary criteria listed above, that they are qualified for an EB1A visa.

 

  • This is not accurate!

 

  • In addition to showing that you have commanded a high salary, have awards, and published articles, or whatever other assortment of the criteria listed above, you still must meet the definition of extraordinary ability.

 

  • Just to repeat the definition: extraordinary ability is “a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.” [8CFR Section 204.5(h)(2)]

 

  • This is a very high standard to meet, but it is achievable for the right candidate.

 

5. What Documents are Needed to Apply for an EB1A Visa?

 

The evidence that you submit in support of your EB1A application is extremely important to get approved.

 

The exact documents that you need to provide your immigration lawyer will depend based on your accomplishments, publications, accolades, etc.

 

With that disclaimer, here is is a list of general documents that you should expect to provide to your immigration lawyer:

 

  • Your resume or CV

 

  • Copies of your passport for you and your family

 

  • Evidence of your extraordinary ability such as copies of your publications, evidence of your awards, pay-stubs showing a high salary compared to your colleagues, citations, and other such evidence

 

  • Letters of recommendation and endorsement from experts and professionals in your field.

 

  • Evidence of the type of work you will be doing in the USA, including a job offer, a contract for work, or a signed statement regarding the work you will be doing in the USA.

 

Important Note Regarding Letters of Endorsement:

 

  • Letters of endorsement from experts in your industry are highly important to your EB1A visa application.

 

  • These letters should not be the primary evidence used to show that you have extraordinary ability.

 

  • Letters of endorsement from experts in the field are very helpful to explain the importance of your accomplishments and contributions to the field.

 

  • You should begin to think about who you can reach out to for letters of endorsement very early on in the planning of your EB1A visa application.

 

6. Conclusion

 

  • The EB1A visa is a great option for the right candidate.

 

  • If you are someone who has extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, athletics, business, or education, the EB1A visa is an option that you should consider.

 

  • The definition of extraordinary ability is a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

 

  • You prove extraordinary ability by showing “sustained national or international acclaim” and that your “achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise.” [8CFR Section 204.5(h)(3)]

 

  • You prove sustained national or international acclaim and that your achievements have been recognized in your field of expertise by submitting evidence of a one-time achievement or by meeting 3 of the 10 evidentiary criteria listed above.

 

You are now in a much better place to assess the EB1A visa and whether or not it is a good option for you to consider.

 

If you have any questions over anything discussed on this page, feel free to contact me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m very responsive via email and would be happy to answer your questions.

 

I’m Michael Ashoori, Esq. and I’m the founder of Ashoori Law, a Los Angeles based immigration law firm focused on helping professionals and entrepreneurs get visas to the United States.

 

Resources:

 

1. Business Immigration: Law & Practice, 2nd Ed. - Vol. 2: Chapter 3

 

2. 8CFR Section 204.5(h)(2)

 

3. 8CFR Section 204.5(h)(3)

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Rijo Joy Kattukaran
16:51 10 Oct 21
My experience so far with Ashoori Law has been awesome. I was in a hurry as it was years of waiting, and then the turn came up quickly, I had to act fast, am very glad I made the decision to choose Ashoori Law. Right from the initial request for a... consultation, the entire team was very responsive, attentive, prompt, detailed oriented. They were very transparent, with their fees (which is very reasonable) and clear. Especially during this pandemic made it as much as they could easier for me through virtual online submissions as much as possible. Ashoori Law exhibited had prepared documentation which was very easy to fill in and complete. Special mention to Lahaina Araneta, who helped me with all my queries and I hardly had to wait more than a day for all those to be answered. Though my journey is still not yet complete, would use Ashoori Law for any of my future needs and also would recommend them for all who is looking for immigration needs. Again a big note of thanks for all your help.read more
ALI ALNASAR
21:26 08 Oct 21
They are quick to respond and answer any questions I have. The staff was friendly, helpful, and easy to understand. This is the most professional office I had dealt with!
Seann Farrell
01:36 08 Oct 21
Citizenship acquired from beginning to end in under 10 months. Professionally prepared paperwork, documentation easy to submit online, very pleased with the outcome. Without the professional services of Ashoori Law there's a good chance delays and... issues could have occurred. I recommend Ashoori if peace of mind is your goal.read more
Juliana Chen
21:30 04 Oct 21
My experience with Ashoori Law was excellent. The teams were very attentive, always there to help with any of my questions. Always quick to respond and deal with any of my concerns. They are very knowledgeable and professional. I couldn’t be more... pleased with the services that they provided to me. I would highly recommend Ashoori Law to anyone with legal needs.read more
amit singh
16:04 04 Oct 21
I had a consultation with Rohit today. He patiently listened to my case and questions and provided satisfactory responses to all. I am happy with the discussion. I may end up taking a paid consultation for more details. I would recommend them to... others as well. Thanks Rohit!read more
Ashish sinha
00:27 02 Oct 21
I reached Michel to get help on i765(L2 EAD) expedite request. He explained me the chances are slim yet filed the request on my behalf.They are just a message away and revert phone calls anytime. They try to explain every bit of your... case.Despite of my expedite request having a low chance of approval, I am glad that my case was picked it's all because Michel and his team prepared my case so well that I got the expedited request approved.I am so happy, kudos to Michel, venshkha, jaser.Ashish Sinharead more
Dina Ibrahem
22:56 01 Oct 21
I've been dealing with them for a year now, they helped me a lot, very professional and friendly! I am always comfortable taking their advices and consult them through my case and they never let me down. and most importantly is that they are very... humble and available literally any time i needed an advice or if I have any concerns.I also LOVE that they email me before any important appointment I would have, making sure that I receive the mails and always sending me soft copies just in case which is GREAT and they constantly keep reminding all the way till my appointment comes. I am still a client with them and very happy, Thanks to Vaneskha Wilson, Jeser Romero, Lahaina Araneta, Milena Manukyan, Elaine Leduna , Karla Samayoa and of course Michael Ashoori.read more
Sach Gill
19:39 30 Sep 21
Had a chat with Rohit Srinivasa. He is informative and possess good knowledge about the immigration related matters. Highly recommended.
Aniruddha Ghosh
16:53 30 Sep 21
Talked to Rohit Srinivasa from Ashoori Law. He is incredibly knowledgable about US immigration laws and is quite freindly. Highly recommended if you are a student on F-1 (OPT, STEM) or are looking to file H-1B.
Kristina Karalic
18:56 29 Sep 21
We accidentally found Ashoori Law online, but we're so happy we did because they have been nothing but outstanding! Ashoori Team has been helping us with multiple cases, including B, L visas and green cards. Their portal is very user friendly, and... their staff is always responsive, caring and detailed. I'd like to give a special shout-out to their Director of Legal Operations, Lahaina Araneta, who has been an absolute delight to work with. I am highly recommending Ashoori Law to anyone seeking immigration services!read more
Zulfa Sultana
18:18 29 Sep 21
I am glad I chose them. Above everything, they are friendly and work closely with you. Owner of the law firm himself is available to talk if needed. Highly recommending them.
Joao Castro
00:31 29 Sep 21
Michael and his team deserve more than a five star rating. I hired Mike already based on a recommendation from a friend of mine, who also requested his services. My friend gave him five star as well, and this could simply not be different.Since my... first contact with Michael, I've perceived his solid ethical principles, responsive professionalism and personal attention to all details in US immigration complex process. In my case, he was key for me to obtain I-131 permits for three Green Cards - and the documents were shipped after just six weeks after the process initiation. In another process, he has been immediately responsive to replace Green Cards. And all my contacts were online - which is a testimony of his great online reputation.If you are looking for US Immigration lawyer assistance for true delivery, great value and avoid risks and potential problems, the answer is Michael Ashoori Law, with his fantastic team, that really and personally takes care of your immigration needs.JCread more
Ahmad Jawid
01:45 28 Sep 21
Ashoori Law, Michael and his team are very professional , helpful and great people for their clients . i am very glad that i had Ashoori Law team for my paperworks . I recommend everyone Ashoori Law especially for Immigration purposes ask for... Michael .read more
Ariel 0054 Realty
01:43 28 Sep 21
Extremely professional teamWithout any doubt, they can handle with knowledge and expertise any caseYou are in good hands with them
Mittal Patel
20:29 27 Sep 21
Have worked with many immigration Lawyers. Ashoori law was very affordable and got back to me in timely manner. Made sure I was on time with my fillings and that we responded to our RFE with adequate info. Lahaina is one of their E2 lawyers and was... expert with these kinds of cases. Will hire them again for renewals.read more
Pragalath Mohandas
20:30 25 Sep 21
Amazing experience. Ashoori Law firm gave me hope and prepared a strong case & I got my E2 case approved in one week. I spoke to other immigration lawyers & i was not satisfied. its easy to communicate with everyone! I highly recommend them to... anyone looking to get immigration help!read more
bhakti savai
12:26 21 Sep 21
I had great experience with Ashoori Law. Professional, knowledgeable, responsive, client-centric, and timely! Highly recommended!
William & Heather Oon
01:17 20 Sep 21
We are grateful and thankful to Ashoori Law and its team. They are very understanding, patient, responsive with all our enquiries and prompt in providing updates to our status. We highly recommended their service.
Kaushik Kuila
19:43 17 Sep 21
I have used Michael Ashoori's Law Firm for my mother's Green Card processing. I have found them very professional and responsive along the way, answering all my queries in a timely manner. I'll readily use them for any immigrations needs in future.
Hyunwook Shin
07:45 10 Sep 21
Michael Ashoori and his firm helped us navigate the complex filing process, answer any questions we have with care, and eventually attain successful approvals. Highly recommended!
Sharon Shanaya
21:53 05 Sep 21
My case was a bit complicated due to my ex-husband and his family but this firm dealt with my I-485 case so nicely and professionally. I was given only 2 weeks to lodge my application due to my messy divorce. This firm made sure my case was filed... before my conditional green card expires. Got my green card in 5 months even during this Covid time when everything takes ages to process. I Will recommend them to anyone who is having difficulty with immigration. Absolutely the best. Don't waste ur time with other attorneys.read more
H. George
02:10 01 Sep 21
Very professional, they have a very good system to prepare your case and make proper follow ups.My case was a little bit complicated and other places they were taking advantage trying to charge me a lots of money but Michael never did... that.Recommending 100% best lawyer ever.read more
Linda Bradley
06:06 25 Aug 21
Very happy with your services 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
jarka sakacova
01:08 24 Jul 21
I have a very pleasant experience with Rohit from Ashoori Law , he was very patient, professional and had a strong knowledge and answered all my questions in detail. I would recommend highly to use Ashoori Law service.
samah elwakkad
15:36 23 Jul 21
I would like to thank Ahoori law office and all the team who was helping us to obtain our L1A approvalThis office Law is truly dedicated to clients, very responsive and professional, they helped me get through so many obstacles.Can't thank them... enough for their effortsIt's really amazing how they guide their clients until they achieve their goals.Thank you Michael for the amazing dedicated team and a special thanks for Lahaina who is really an amazing person and very knowledgeable and really helpful and supportive, also Christina who has helped me a lot through this.You're the best guysKeep it upread more
raechel schofield
22:07 22 Jul 21
Highly recommend Ashoori Law. My adjustment of status was a smooth and easy process. They are always happy to answer any questions you may have along the way.
Kishore Kumar
21:13 22 Jul 21
I highly recommend Michael and his legal team for being thorough professionals. I worked with Lahaina Araneta and Kelly Raposa. Both are so helpful. They made my adjustment of status to register permanent residence a smooth and seamless process. I... definitely recommend their service !read more
Manoj Gunawardena
13:46 22 Jul 21
My experience with Ashoori Law is very good, all of my questions were quickly answered and clearly. The staff was qualified, friendly. Specially I worked with Mr. Rohit Srinivasa . I can highly recommend them.
Mohammad Ahraz Hussain
19:55 20 Jul 21
The whole process of evaluating the case, submission of RFE and then correspondence was extremely well done!
Zed Karkar
15:06 20 Jul 21
A Very helpful and professional law firm. helped us out with our application.
Inger Nicolaisen
14:57 15 Jul 21
Michael Ashoori’s professionalism and expertise is unmatched in the industry! My experience with Ashoori Law is very positive, all of my questions were quickly answered making my adjustment of status a very smooth process. The staff was... unbelievably friendly and ensured the best amount of care was taken with my case! I can’t recommend them enough!!read more
Sadaf Nadeem
00:42 09 Jul 21
I highly recommend Micheal and his legal team for being thorough professionals. Their knowledge and expertise are second to none and their work ethic is unmatched.
kvshirazi
18:28 08 Jul 21
I had a great experience with Ashoori Law. Lahaina, Michael and Ehsan helped me to get my TN visa approved in no time.Lahaina is very responsive. Being able to reach out and talk to your lawyer/attorney is exactly what you need when you apply for... your visa...I definitely recommend them for any immigration services.read more
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Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.