EB-1A Extraordinary Ability Green Card

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There are simply some applicants that have extraordinary abilities, even if they don’t know it yet! Although many applicants are initially humble and hesitant to pursue the EB-1A, we have a strong track record, and we do not accept EB-1A green card cases unless we believe based on our experience that they are viable. Cultures outside the U.S. tend to value humility, while U.S. culture can be intimidating because of its focus on self-promotion. Therefore, you never really know if you are qualified until you reach out to an experienced attorney for a comprehensive evaluation.

We recently represented an accomplished video game developer who was interested in obtaining an EB-1A Green Card to continue their work in the United States. Having enjoyed international commercial success over the course of their career, garnering a great deal of media attention from major publications, and winning a prestigious international award, this developer clearly possessed extraordinary ability. As such, they were well-positioned to self-petition for the EB-1A Green Card and travel to the United States with their immediate family.

What Is the EB-1A Green Card?

A subgroup of the first-preference employment-based visa category, the EB-1A permanent residence pathway is designed to bring individuals with extraordinary ability in art, education, science, or athletics to the United States. The broad spectrum of fields that make up the EB-1A category allows individuals from a variety of backgrounds to apply, but meeting the strict standards for qualification is undeniably difficult. Given the streamlined application process and variety of benefits, the EB-1A category is a great opportunity for qualifying individuals. 

Due to the difficulty in obtaining an EB-1A visa, we offer services specifically tailored to individuals seeking related ability and achievement visas. Alcorn Immigration Law has specifically developed the Alcorn Academy: Extraordinary Ability Prep Course and Legal Launch services to aid individuals seeking confirmation that they already qualify – and are motivated to strategize with an attorney on the best immigration option for you and the next steps for getting started.

How do I apply?

Uniquely qualified people have a special pathway to getting a green card, EB-1A Green Card for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability. To qualify, you must show that you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics by demonstrating sustained national or international acclaim. Another great aspect of the EB-1A green card petition is that you can sponsor yourself, and having an employer sponsor you is optional.

Am I eligible?

In order to qualify as a person of extraordinary ability, you must meet at least 3 of the 10 following criteria, or provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal) as well as evidence showing that you will be continuing to work in the area of your expertise. No offer of employment or labor certification is required.

What is the process?

EB-1A applicants have the ability to self-petition, meaning they do not need an employer to sponsor the process. In most cases, the EB-1A process is started by filing Form I-140 and submitting all necessary supporting documentation. Once you secure approval of your I-140 and your priority date becomes current, you may submit Form I-485 to adjust your status. 

In certain circumstances, it is possible to file Form I-140 and Form I-485 concurrently. This method allows for quicker processing times and is one of the fastest ways to obtain an EB-1A Green Card. To be eligible for concurrent filing, your Priority Date must be current. In other words, there is a visa available, and you qualify to apply for adjustment of status. Through this opportunity, you can reduce your waiting time significantly.

You apply by filing Form I-140 along with evidence of at least 3 of the following criteria:

  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  • Evidence of your membership in associations in the field that demand outstanding achievement of their members
  • Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  • Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
  • Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
  • Evidence of your performance in a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
  • Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  • Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts

If your I-140 is approved, you can file your I-485 Adjustment of Status (green card) Application, and some individuals might be able to concurrently file sooner. Any derivative applicants such as a spouse and children can be included in the I-485 application process. The EB-1A is a complex and thorough application and should be prepared by a qualified immigration attorney.

What is a Priority Date?

When an individual applies for a Green Card, they must wait for the USCIS or the State Department to process their application. A priority date can be thought of as a Green Card applicant’s place in line. The priority date depends on when you started the process.  Who is at the front of the line depends on the demand for and supply of visas, per-country limitations, and the number of visas allocated for your particular category. Most categories of Green Cards, except for Immediate Relatives, have priority dates. 

When your priority date becomes current, you become eligible to apply for your Green Card. You can review priority dates for your visa category and country on the Visa Bulletin. The U.S. government sets aside only 140,000 employment-based Green Cards for workers from around the world each year, and there are limits placed on the number of Green Cards that can be allocated to nationals of a certain country. These caps mean that individuals from countries with a high number of Green Card applicants, such as India and China, face larger backlogs.

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EB-1 Green Cards

EB-1 green cards are employment-based, first-preference immigrant visas available to foreign professionals and noncitizens of extraordinary ability. There are three categories of EB-1 visas:

  • Extraordinary ability. For individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, arts, business, or athletics.
  • Outstanding professors and researchers. For individuals who have achieved international recognition for outstanding achievements in a specific academic field.
  • Multinational managers or executives. For individuals who intend to be employed by an American company in a managerial or executive capacity.
  • Family privileges. The EB-1A Green Card allows holders to bring their spouses and unmarried children under the age of twenty-one to the United States.

What Are the Benefits of the EB-1 Visa?

There are several benefits of the EB-1 visa that make it an appealing option for many foreign professionals. The advantages of the EB-1 visa compared to other visa categories are threefold and include: 

  • No PERM certification requirement. A permanent labor certification is issued by the Department of Labor and allows companies to hire foreign employees to work in the United States on a permanent basis. The PERM certification is used to confirm that there is a lack of qualified and willing American workers for a given position. The ability to bypass this requirement is a major benefit of the EB-1 visa over other categories for many startups and companies. 
  • Self-petitions are allowed. Some visa categories require startups and companies to file a petition on behalf of a foreign professional. The EB-1 visa category allows for self-petitions, meaning the applicant can file independently, without the need for a sponsor. This is advantageous because many businesses have limitations on who and when they can sponsor foreign professionals for permanent residence. 
  • Fastest green card process. Compared to other visa categories, petitions for EB-1 green cards are relatively fast. This is particularly beneficial for applicants who are subject to lengthy backlogs, such as individuals from India and China. 

What Is the Processing Time for EB-1 Visas?

The processing time for an EB-1 visa application depends largely on the unique circumstances of the case. On average, the processing times for both the Nebraska Service Center and the Texas Service Center are similar, but delays are relatively common. Typically, the USCIS will process the I-140 petition between 4 months and one year. Then, it can take several more months to process the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status and issue permanent residence in the United States. If the applicant incurs any delays during the application process or misfiles their application, the processing time can be prolonged. This emphasizes the importance of navigating this process carefully with the assistance of an experienced EB-1 green card attorney.

Adjustment of Status Vs. Consular Processing

There are two processes used to secure EB-1 green cards for employees. The first of which is an adjustment of status, which is utilized by applicants who are already located within the United States. The adjustment of status process involves submitting Form I-485 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to obtain permanent residency. Consular processing, on the other hand, is used for applicants who are located outside of the United States. This process is completed at the United States consulate in their country of residence or their country of citizenship.

What Are the Fees to Apply for an EB-1 Green Card?

There are fees associated with applying for EB-1 green cards. The fees that you can expect to pay to file depend on the process that is used to apply for permanent residency as well as the types of forms that must be filed. There is a fee of $700 to file the I-140 Petition and an additional $1,140 to file the I-485 Application to Adjust Status. 

For consular processing, there is a $700 fee to submit the I-140 petition. Then, it is necessary to file the DS-260 Online Immigrant Visa Application, which has a fee of $325, as well as any relevant Affidavits of Support, which carry a fee of $120 per case. The $220 USCIS immigrant fee is also necessary to have the immigrant visa packet processed and a green card produced.

What Is the Difference Between Rejection and Denial?

While the two terms may seem interchangeable, there is a major difference between a rejection and a denial of an EB-1 green card application. A rejection occurs when the USCIS determines that the application is missing key components or was filed incorrectly. In these situations, the application and fees are returned to the applicant for review. Receiving a rejection is akin to never having filed at all. Typically, the USCIS will send a Request for Evidence (RFE) to allow the applicant to provide the necessary documentation. A denial, on the other hand, occurs when the application has been fully reviewed and the USCIS determines that the applicant does not qualify for a visa. 

How to Choose the Best EB-1 Attorney for Your Needs

The EB-1 attorney that you choose to represent your case will have a major impact on the success of the application, the timeline of the process, and your employee’s ability to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. For this reason, it is critical that you make this decision carefully and weigh all relevant factors before hiring an attorney. Some of the most important factors to consider when choosing an EB-1 attorney for your needs includes: 

  • The attorney’s approval rating for cases similar to yours
  • Their ability to effectively mitigate risk during the process to avoid delays due to RFEs and rejection
  • How quickly the attorney can submit the visa application package 
  • The communicativeness and friendliness of the attorney
  • Their fee structure

How to Select the Best EB-1A Green Card Lawyer for Your Needs

Your choice of legal representation will greatly influence the ease of the application process, as well as the likelihood of approval for your case. The right attorney will work with you to craft the strongest application possible, offering recommendations based on U.S. immigration law and precedents as well as ensuring that you have a full understanding of the potential challenges that may arise. When speaking with prospective EB-1A Green Card lawyers, it can be helpful to consider the following:

  • Industry expertise. Your attorney should be familiar with the business and/or scientific background for the case. This expertise will help the attorney advise on building your portfolio of accomplishments in the field. 
  • Solution-oriented. Ensure that your goals and expectations are heard and that your attorney will walk you through the right strategy to meet your needs.
  • Competence. Allow your attorney to project manage your case so that you do not have to. 
  • Responsiveness. Choose an attorney who responds to your questions in a timely manner. 

Immigration Law for Tech Startups

The best and brightest talent in the world needs to secure the ability to chart their own destiny, and that includes immigration freedom.  Innovative startups and companies are concerned with hiring the best and brightest talent in the world. Consequently, their immigration challenges and concerns differ greatly from other businesses and entities. Recognizing the opportunity to help invigorate the growth of companies and provide resources to improve recruitment capacity, we created Immigration Law for Tech Startups, an interview-based podcast that sheds light on the most progressive immigration law strategies for rapidly scaling tech startups. With over one hundred episodes (and new episodes every two weeks) listen to Immigration Law for Tech Startups on your streaming platform of choice.

The Alcorn Method

At Alcorn Immigration Law, we pride ourselves on our proven record of success and our ability to navigate even the most nuanced immigration cases for our startup and corporate clients. When you hire an Alcorn attorney, you can expect the following process: 

  • Strategize. Ensuring that you are able to meet your goals is our foremost priority. We will listen to your story to gain a full understanding of your background and expectations, then offer personalized solutions to help meet your short- and long-term goals. 
  • Prepare. Careful and thorough preparation is the foundation of your success. We will review all key documents and make amendments as necessary to ensure that your application is strong and error-free.
  • File. Mistakes during the filing process can be costly and time-consuming. Our team will help you successfully file your petition and all supporting evidence, and keep you aware of developments in your case throughout the entire process.
  • Win. The most satisfying step of all: winning. Although we can’t make any guarantees, our track record of consistently securing approvals for our clients speaks for itself. 

Accomplish, Together with Alcorn Immigration Law

At Alcorn Immigration Law, we prioritize empathy, efficiency, and effective legal strategy in all aspects of our legal services. With offices in Mountain View, CA, and New York, NY we have the skill and experience necessary to support startups and companies who wish to acquire talent from across the globe. To connect with one of our knowledgeable EB-1 green card attorneys today, consider contacting us at +1(855) 546-0015 today.