What is an EB-1A Visa?

Known as the “Alien of Extraordinary Ability” visa, the EB-1A is an immigrant visa for foreign nationals who have extraordinary abilities in the arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics. This category of visa is available for individuals who have achieved recognition as being at the top of their field.

Who is Eligible for an EB-1A Visa?

To be eligible for an EB-1A visa, applicants must meet the three following criteria, which will then be discussed in greater detail below:

  • The applicant must possess extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
  • The applicant must be coming to the United States with the intent to continue working in the field of extraordinary ability.
  • The applicant’s entry into the United States will substantially benefit the country.

“Extraordinary Ability” Criteria

Demonstrating extraordinary ability in a particular field requires proof that the applicant has sustained national or international acclaim and that the achievement has been recognized in the field of expertise. Extraordinary ability may be demonstrated through a one-time achievement such as the Nobel Prize, Oscar, or other similarly recognized international award. Otherwise, extraordinary ability must be established by a minimum of three of the following ten criteria:

  • Other nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards
  • Membership in an association requiring outstanding achievement, as judged by respected experts
  • Significant published material that is written by others about the applicant or their work
  • Service as a judge of the work of others in the same field
  • Major contributions to the field
  • Scholarly articles or publications
  • Artistic exhibitions or showcases
  • Leading or critical role for distinguished organizations
  • High salary or remuneration when compared to others in the same field
  • Commercial success in performing arts

Proof of Intent to Continue Work in the United States

In addition to establishing extraordinary ability, an applicant must also demonstrate with clear evidence that he or she is coming to the United States to continue work in the field of extraordinary ability. This requirement can be satisfied through any of the following evidence:

  • A letter from a potential employer in the field of extraordinary ability
  • A contract between the applicant and U.S.-based companies that show a commitment to working in the field of extraordinary ability
  • A written statement by the applicant with detailed plans to come to the United States to continue to work in the field of extraordinary ability

The applicant is not required to have a job offer at the time of filing.

Proof of Benefit to the United States

The final requirement for approval for an EB-1A visa is proof that admittance to the United States will substantially benefit the country. There is a general assumption that if the applicant is working within the United States in the field of extraordinary ability, then he or she will be substantially benefiting the nation in some aspect. As a result, to fulfill this requirement, the applicant typically does not need to submit evidence beyond a written statement explaining that admittance will substantially benefit the United States based solely on the fact that the applicant will be working in the field of extraordinary ability.

What are the Advantages of the EB-1A Visa?

The EB-1A visa for aliens of extraordinary ability has the following advantages:

  • A permanent job offer within the United States is not required
  • Labor certification is not required
  • Faster than the labor certification process: This process allows the applicant to file the petition and the application to become a permanent resident at the same time; this is called concurrent filing. This allows the applicant to obtain work authorization and an advance parole document, which allows international travel, sooner than filing for a green card through the labor certification process. The applicant may also receive work and travel authorization for a spouse and children.
  • More flexible than the labor certification process: The applicant may be able to change jobs sooner or to a much broader range of job opportunities more quickly than through the labor certification process.
  • Ability to self-petition: The visa application does not require a signature from anyone at a university or company employing the applicant.

The EB-1A visa is an immigrant visa. A successful application qualifies the applicant for a United States green card. The applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age will also be eligible to obtain green cards through the initial EB-1A visa holder.

How Can I Apply for an EB-1A Visa?

The application process for the EB-1A visa involves several steps, as follows:

  • Filing Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, along with supporting documents establishing the applicant’s eligibility for an EB-1A visa. This form has a filing fee of $715 paid by the sponsoring employer and a $235 immigrant fee.
  • Upon I-40 approval, the applicant may continue to adjust their status if they are already within the United States, or they may apply at a U.S. Embassy or consulate.
  • The applicant may need a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photographs, and signatures. The biometrics exam costs $85 and is required for applicants aged 14 to 79. The applicant will also need to attend the immigration medical exam.
  • Attend the visa interview.
  • Upon approval, the applicant will receive an EB-1A visa that allows them to work and live within the United States.

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you have questions about the immigration process and believe you qualify for an EB-1A visa, call Stelmakh & Associates at 206-605-0550 or schedule your consultation today.

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