Immigration Options for High-Achieving Aliens with Advanced Degrees: EB1-A

The United States provides special visa categories to attract immigrants with special abilities or skills, such as extraordinary knowledge or capabilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. In addition there are also options available for outstanding researchers or professors, artists, and entertainers. The following is a discussion of EB-1A green card, one of the several of these visa categories.

 EB-1A Green Card for Alien of Extraordinary Ability

The EB-1A petition is an I-140 petition that can be used to later apply for a green card.  Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A) is a provision for immigrants of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. You may apply without employer sponsorship (“self-petition”), but you must be able to show that your work will be of substantial prospective benefit to the national interest of the United States. As a result of the 2010 precedent case, Kazarian v USCIS, there is a two-part test before approving an EB-1A petition. The first part is an examination of evidence to prove that the alien had achieved 3 of the 10 criteria listed below, and the second is a final determination of merits in which the evidence is analyzed overall to show that the alien is internationally recognized and has extraordinary ability.

 EB-1A: Examination of Evidence

Qualified applicants are those who have achieved high levels of prestige in his or her respective field, and those who are able to show sustained national or international acclaim through extensive documentation. Applicants should be the recipient of an internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize, or alternatively, must show themselves to be of extraordinary ability by meeting three (3) of the following ten (10) criteria:

  • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards
  • Membership in associations that require outstanding achievement of their members
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications
  • Participation on a panel, or as a judge, evaluating the work of others in the same or similar field
  • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field
  • Display or artistic exhibition of alien’s work
  • Evidence of performance in a leading role within and organization or establishment with a distinguished reputation
  • High salary or compensation for services in comparison to others
  • Commercial success in the performing arts such as box office receipt figures, or other comparable sales figures

 Merits Determination

 The second level of examination in an EB-1A case involves analysis by the USCIS offer to subjectively determine whether the alien is internationally recognized as having extraordinary ability.  This usually involves the alien demonstrating influence on the field as a whole. This second level of analysis is usually trickier because it is subjective, and the argument should be carefully crafted to emphasize the alien’s influence on his or her field of endeavor.

Once approved, the you can use your EB-1A petition to separately apply for a green card.  With your green card, you will be expected to continue work in your respective field. EB-1A does not require a Labor Certification or employer sponsorship, but because it is conditioned on prospective benefit to the U.S., even after issuance of the green card, the alien should prove good faith by working in his or her field, as promised in the EB-1A petition.