Important info for those who work in the U.S. in big-tech companies in senior or higher positions — you are likely eligible for an EB-1A green card

Our client Ketan Vijayvargiya shares his EB1A experience in his blog


The EB-2/EB-3 waiting times to get a green card here in the US are crazy long for Indians. (And have been for a few years now.) I also know a fair number of people in those lines that either don’t know about EB-1A or underestimate their chances of getting one.

I recently went through the EB-1A filing process myself and was fortunate enough to succeed on my first attempt. So, I’d like to share my experience in the following post.

I’ll structure it in 3 parts:

  1. Advice for those that are early on in their journey.
  2. Details about my own experience.
  3. FAQs.

Steps I advise you to follow

Step 1

Read each article here at least twice, maybe more. I don’t know the author personally but I found his articles highly informative when I started my journey.

Step 2: Hire an attorney

Next, get an attorney. That is a multi-step process.

  • Reach out to multiple attorneys throughout the country.
    • There is no need to stick to ones in your own area as you’ll anyway communicate with them over emails or video calls.
    • How do you reach out? You might have to fill out a form on their website or just email them.
  • They’ll usually send you a questionnaire. They’ll then tell you if they want to take up your case, probably over a phone call.
    • My advice: don’t take that questionnaire lightly. With a couple of attorneys, I didn’t document enough details thinking I’ll give those out in the phone conversation. However, I later realized they had decided to reject my case based on the questionnaire itself.
    • One attorney charged me 200 USD for the first phone call.
  • Talk to at least 5 attorneys, even if you are tempted to think, “let me just go with Ketan’s attorney” – I can’t stress the importance of this enough. That’s because you’ll get diverse perspective that will help you learn more about your own case.
  • You are looking at 5-15k USD in attorney fees, for preparing your initial petition, plus government fees. (My hypothesis is that these vary proportionally with cost-of-living of the area the attorney belongs to – so, an attorney from New York or Seattle will be more expensive than one from a smaller town.)
  • Probe them to find a good fit. Example questions:
    • How do they charge?
      • Some charge a flat fee, irrespective of how many attempts it will take you.
      • Some charge a flat fee for the first petition and then hourly to respond to RFEs (i.e. request for evidence). Personally, I wasn’t comfortable hiring someone who did this because there is no upside to how much it could cost in case of RFEs.
    • If, like me, a lot of your projects at work aren’t publicly available, you’ll have to submit recommendation letters from folks in and/or outside your company to support your case. How will they help in drafting those?
    • At some point in the process, you may want to wait and collect more evidence to create a stronger case for yourself. What happens then?
      • Will they push you to file?
      • Or will they be okay waiting for 6-18 months?
    • Can they put you in touch with some of their prior clients whose profile was similar to yours?

Step 3

Now start collecting evidence and working with your attorneys to prepare your petition. Work closely with them, give/receive feedback and thoroughly review all documents they prepare for you.

You might decide to collect some evidence first before hiring an attorney and that’s okay. But I do think you shouldn’t wait too long.

My experience

Here are the criteria I petitioned for. Note that I don’t know the winning ones because USCIS didn’t say which ones they considered while approving my case.

Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members

  • Senior Member in IEEE: I had to submit recommendation letters from 3 existing Senior Members and some documentation to get this membership level.
  • Fellow in BCS: One recommendation letter from an existing BCS Fellow and another from a peer in Amazon.

Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel

I got judging opportunities at:

Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field

  • I claimed that the technology I helped build – as part of Lookout for Metrics and SageMaker – are significant in my field.
    • Includes an open-source project I helped build from SageMaker: SageMaker Distribution.
    • I was fortunate enough that my work at AWS in the last few years, though mostly proprietary, was publicly available.
  • 2 patents approved by USPTO and a few approved by Amazon but pending review at USPTO.

Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations

I presented a case that I am important for AWS and SageMaker. Specifically, the attorneys structured it in 2 parts:

  1. AWS is an important/distinguished organization for USA.
  2. I play an important role in AWS.

I had to present a few recommendation letters from people both within and outside Amazon. Those letters too were structured in 2 parts:

  1. “I, as the recommendation provider, am knowledgeable/important in the same field as Ketan.”
  2. “I endorse Ketan’s work for such-and-such reasons.”

Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field

The attorneys compared my compensation with that of other senior/principal software engineers in the country. They used publicly available data on Glassdoor etc. for the latter.


How long did it take for me?

Roughly 10 months.

How many recommendation letters do you need?

Well, it’s hard to say.

Think of it this way: let’s say your attorneys want to make some case (such as, “X is critical to organization Y”) and they need evidence to support that case. If they don’t have publicly available evidence (if, for example, you worked on company-internal projects), they need to fallback to recommendation letters. So, the number of recommendation letters they may ask you to produce is as many as they need to build a strong case.

What happens after you file your petition?

USCIS should respond with one of the following:

  1. Approval.
  2. RFE: They’ll ask you to provide more evidence by some date.
  3. Reject your case, possibly after you respond to the RFE. You can then decide to re-file either immediately or after a few months with more evidence.


I had looked at EB-1A a few years back and decided I couldn’t crack it. I feel many people, especially those in senior or higher positions in big-tech companies, are in same boat today as I was back then – they don’t fully understand how eligible they are for EB-1A. If anything, I’d request you to take a closer look.

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