1. Q: What is the EB-1A category?
A: An EB-1A is an immigrant visa category that is reserved for foreign workers of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. There is only one criteria, which is to establish "sustained national or international acclaim." Neither job offer nor the Labor Certification is required.
2. Q: What are the advantages of EB-1A over the Labor Certification Process?
A: The EB-1A category for aliens of extraordinary ability has the following advantages in obtaining a green card:
• Does not require a permanent job offer in the United States.
• Does not require a labor certification.
• Faster than the labor certification process. You can file your petition and your application to become a permanent resident at the same time. (This is called "concurrent filing.") In this way, you can obtain your work authorization and advance parole document (allowing you to travel internationally) much sooner than you could if you try to obtain your green card through the labor certification process. You can also receive work and travel authorization for your spouse and children.
• More flexible than the labor certification process. Compared to the labor certification process, you may be able to change jobs much sooner and may be able to change to a much broader range of job opportunities.
• You can self-petition. That is, the petition does not require the signature of anyone at the university or company where you work. In fact, in some cases, you can even be self-employed.
3. Q: What are the disadvantages of EB-1A compared with the Labor Certification Process?
A: There are some disadvantages of this process over the usual labor certification process:
• You have to be extraordinary – not just good. Not everyone qualifies.
• Can be less predictable than cases filed through the labor certification process, although the labor certification process is itself not always very predictable.
4. Q: How can I establish “Extraordinary Ability”?
A: Extraordinary Ability may be demonstrated by presenting evidence including major achievement (such as Nobel Prize), or any three of the following:
• Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards;
• Membership in association in the field for which classification is sought, which requires outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
• Material published about the person in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
• Participation in a panel or as an individual performing as a judge of the work others in the same or an allied field of specialization;
• Evidence of original scientific, scholastic, artistic, athletic or business related contributions of major significance;
• Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals or other major media;
• Evidence of display of work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcase in more than one country;
• Performance in a leading or cultural role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
• Having a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the same field;
• Evidence of commercial success in the performing arts.
5. Q: I am a scientist/researcher. How many publications are sufficient to meet EB-1A requirements?
A: There is no specific minimum publication requirement; rather, it is determined by USCIS on a case-by-case basis. Having at least some publications meets one of the ten criteria needed for EB-1A. However, it is usually harder for researchers and scientists to have a successful EB-1A petition without a publication.
6. Q: If I do not have any published articles in journals in my field, may I still apply for an EB-1A?
A: Yes. There is no specific requirement that you need to have published articles in order to apply or obtain approval of an EB-1A petition. Having published meets one of the ten criteria for an EB-1A. However, for scientists, researchers, engineers and other professionals, the requirement of publications is fundamental and easy to satisfy. Conversely, one does not have any publications, one’s EB-1A case may be very challenging.
7. Q: If I am not a member of any professional association, organization, or society in my field, may I still apply for an EB-1A?
A: Yes. There is no specific requirement that you be a member of any professional association, organization, or society in order to apply or obtain approval for an EB-1 petition. Moreover, an ordinary membership in a professional organization will not help an EB-1A petition.
8. Q: What is a letter of recommendation?
A: A letter of recommendation is a letter written by an expert in the alien's field or some otherwise authoritative person in an allied or supporting field. The letter discusses the abilities and accomplishments of the alien seeking an EB-1A. Letters of recommendation are an important part of an EB-1A petition.
9. Q: Whom should I contact to obtain letters of recommendation?
A: Recommendation letters should be written by experts or scholars in your field. Usually, our clients ask their former professors, supervisors, co-workers and individuals that they have met at meetings/conferences. Asking one or two people who are less familiar with the alien is strongly recommended, since they are more objective and independent. Anyone that knows your work directly or indirectly and has expertise in the field may write a Letter of Recommendation for you.
10. Q: How many recommendation letters should I obtain?
A: There is no specific number set forth by the USCIS. We generally include five to six letters of recommendation in our EB-1A cases.
11. Q: What information should be included in the Recommendation Letters?
A: Recommendation Letters provide the primary supporting evidence for your petition. For instance, they should include the writers' qualifications for their opinion, and your achievements, awards, publishing record, society memberships, etc. Moreover, the letters should tie your situation to the EB-1A criteria.
12. Q: Obtaining Letters of Recommendation will be difficult for me. Are these letters important?
A: If you can provide clear evidence that you fulfill the criteria for an EB-1, you may not need any letters of recommendation. For most EB-1 applicants, however, letters of recommendation are necessary to show that you meet the EB-1 requirements for approval.
13. Q: If I do not have a permanent offer of employment, can I still apply for an EB-1A petition?
A: Yes, EB-1A does not require a job offer or an employer’s sponsorship.
14. Q: What if I change jobs while my EB-1A petition is pending?
A: It will have no effect upon the status of your case. EB-1A petitions are self-petitions and do not require a job offer and an employer’s sponsorship. Therefore, you may change your employment and it will have no effect on your case as long as you stay within your field of expertise.
15. Q: What other options might I have if I am eligible for EB-1A?
A: A person who is eligible for EB-1A may be eligible for other immigrant categories that provide sufficient options to the applicant. Outstanding Researchers and Professors can try for the EB-1B category. Additionally, individuals who are doing work that can be viewed as being “in the national interest” may be eligible to obtain a national interest waiver (NIW).
16. Q: Is it possible to file two petitions, such as an EB-1A and NIW, at the same time?
A: Yes. Some of our clients file two I-140 petitions simultaneously. Some clients file three I-140 petitions at the same time. There is nothing stated in the law that prohibits multiple filings. Multiple filings increase your chances of approval.
17. Q: Can Letters of Recommendation included in an NIW petition be used for an EB-1A petition?
A: Since EB-1A and NIW have different standards, the recommendation letters for NIW may not be effective for an EB-1A application. We usually suggest one set of recommendation letters used for NIW and another set of recommendation letters be used for EB-1A. Nevertheless, they may come from the same group of experts.
18. Q: What are the differences between EB-1A and EB-1B?
A: The differences are: 1) EB-1A does not require an employer’s sponsorship and a permanent job offer while EB-1B requires them; 2) EB-1A requires a higher standard of achievement than EB-1B; 3) EB-1A does not require work experience, while EB-1B requires three years of work experience.
19. Q: If I have a Labor Certification pending, may I also apply for an EB-1A?
A: Yes. They may be filed independently since they are not related. The Labor Certification process is done by the U.S. Department of Labor, whereas the USCIS handles EB-1 petitions. If your Labor Certification is ultimately denied, then you still have a chance of getting an EB-1 approved.
20. Q: If I have been denied a Labor Certification, may I still petition for an EB-1A?
A: Yes, assuming you would otherwise qualify for an EB-1A. The standards for an EB-1A petition and a Labor Certification are very different. A Labor Certification is based on a lack of available U.S. workers with minimum qualifications for the particular job. By contrast, an EB-1A is based on proving that the alien possesses "Extraordinary Ability".
21. Q: If my EB-1 petition is approved, when may I file a petition for Adjustment of Status or an immigrant visa?
A: You may file for Adjustment of Status as soon as a visa number becomes available to you. The EB-1 category currently has immigrant visa numbers immediately available, so you may apply as soon as your petition is approved. You may apply for adjustment of status after your EB-1A approval, or apply for EB-1A and Adjustment of Status concurrently.
22. Q: Do I need to live within the U.S. to apply for an EB-1A?
A: No. Any alien, living either within the U.S. or in a foreign country, may apply for an EB-1 petition, provided, or course, that he or she meets the relevant requirements.
23. Q: Can an artist or musician qualify for an EB-1A?
A: Yes. Artists and musicians may apply for an EB-1.
24. Q: Does USCIS offer premium processing service for an EB-1A petition?
25. Q: If I have filed an EB-1A, when is my priority date?
A: Your priority date is the date that USCIS receives your EB-1A petition. Nevertheless, the priority date for EB-1A is not important since visa numbers are available for EB-1 categories for aliens from any country.
26. Q: I am in J-1 status and subject to the two-year home country residency requirement. May I apply for an EB-1A?
A: Yes. However, you need to either obtain a J-1 waiver or satisfy the two-year home residency requirement before you may adjust your status to permanent resident.
27. Q: I am currently in J-1 status and subject to the two-year home country residence requirement. If I apply for an EB-1A and get it approved, is my J-1 home country requirement waived?
A: No, a J-1 waiver and an EB-1A are two different things. A J-1 waiver is an application to waive the two-year home country residency requirement. An EB-1A is an immigration petition. Even if your EB-1A is approved, you are still subject to the two-year requirement. You need to either obtain a J-1 waiver or satisfy it before you may adjust your status to a permanent resident.
28. Q: After my EB-1A is approved, do I need to remain working in the same field as indicated in my petition?
A: Yes, you need to continue working in the field specified in the filed EB-1A. If you venture into another area, the USCIS may deny your Adjustment of Status (I-485) or even revoke permanent residency after an Adjustment of Status (I-485) is granted.