EB1 Visa: The Complete Guide

Updated on April 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • EB1 visas, or Employment-Based Extraordinary Ability Green Cards, offer permanent residency for individuals with extraordinary abilities in arts, sciences, and business.
  • Applicants must provide evidence of sustained national or international acclaim to qualify.
  • Benefits include exemption from the PERM process and shorter waiting times.
  • The visa has three categories: extraordinary ability, outstanding professor or researcher, and multinational executive or manager.

When you are looking to get your visa, you may be looking towards the EB1 Visa for specific reasons. But before you start your path towards residency, it is essential to make sure you know enough about this visa to see if it fits you. So, what is an EB1 visa, what are the benefits it comes with, and what are the requirements you need to meet to obtain this visa? Learn all about it in this article.

What Are EB1 Visas?

EB1 visas, or the Employment-Based Extraordinary Ability Green Cards, First Preference, represent a type of permanent residency visa available for immigrants looking to settle in the U.S. The green card obtained under this category is an employment-based one. For this reason, it is one of the visas that most immigrants are looking towards thanks to its benefits. However, it is a visa available to immigrants who were able to prove their extraordinary ability in their particular field, whether it’s arts, sciences, business, or another one.

In general, in order to prove the abilities, one has to bring evidence of “sustained national or international acclaim”.

EB1 Visa Criteria

There are certain criteria one has to meet in order to be eligible for EB1 visas. As mentioned earlier, the immigrant will have to prove extraordinary ability to obtain the visa. This may be done by winning certain international or national awards, and doing so as a team, company, or individually. It is even possible to get evidence by coaching someone else, who then managed to win great recognition.

Then, another criterion is being a member of a group or association that has a high achievement threshold in order to qualify. This should be judged by professionals. Therefore, this would not work through a paid membership.

Next, being featured in high-profile publications is another important criterion. Large media or trade magazines are included, while local media is excluded.

Lastly, you can also bring different types of evidence when applying for an EB1 visa if you want to have as many chances of success as possible. Some valid proof you can bring is some notable achievement you had in your particular field or any contribution you made to it. Some of these might include a high salary, a patent or invention, or being the runner of an enterprise that generates a lot of profit.

In any case, even if you think that you meet all these criteria, the best thing to do is talk to an attorney specializing in this. It will make it easier for you to ensure you meet all the relevant criteria, and that you can indeed apply for an EB1-1 visa and have higher chances of obtaining it.

Benefits of EB1 Green Card

The EB1 visa comes with multiple benefits, which is why so many immigrants want to obtain it. Here are a few things that make this green card so sought after by people:

When applying for it, going through the PERM process is not necessary (the PERM process consists of the Department of Labor trying to establish that an already-existing worker based in the U.S. would be able to fill the same position as the immigrant)

The dates for the visa priority are current, meaning that there isn’t any enforced waiting time; compared to other green cards, the waiting time for an EB1 visa might be significantly shorter

Therefore, the EB1 visas are some of the most desired ones, but they are also some of the hardest to obtain. Not everyone will be successful when applying for such a visa.

EB1 Visa Requirements

In order to qualify for an EB1 visa, you have to meet certain requirements, as stated below:

Extraordinary Ability

Extraordinary ability can be proven by getting international or national acclaim. The extraordinary ability needs to be proven in your particular fields, such as arts, business, education, athletics, or sciences.

In order to have chances to prove extraordinary ability, you must meet at least 3 out of 10 criteria that the USCIS set. Otherwise, you should bring proof of an achievement you made that was exceptional.

Outstanding Professor or Researcher

For this criterion, you must prove that you got some international recognition for your outstanding performance in a particular academic field. But that isn’t all – you also need at least 3 years of experience as a teacher or researcher in that same particular academic field.

Lastly, you must want to enter the U.S. to pursue tenure-back or tenure teaching, or at least in order to occupy a position of a researcher in a university or any equivalent educational institution. The evidence provided should be able to meet at least 2 of the 6 criteria that the USCIS set.

Multinational Executive or Manager

This criterion is meant for people who want to come into the U.S. to continue working for a business or organization that has employed the applicant in either an executive or managerial capacity in a different country. This must have happened for one of the previous three years to be eligible for the application.

Also, the employer petitioning must be a U.S. employer, and he/she must have done business for at least one year before submitting the application.

EB1 Visa Fees

If you want to apply for an EB1 visa soon, you need to know that there are also some fees that apply. So, you need to prepare your budget for this. Here are the fees associated with applying for an EB1 visa:

  • $700 for the I-140 basic filing fee – this will be the responsibility of the employer
  • The filing fee for I-485 – this fee will be different depending on what type of refugee you are and how old you are:
    • If you’re below 14 and filing without a parent, the price is $1,140
    • If you’re below 14 and filing with a parent, the price is $750
    • If you’re older than 78, the price is $1,140, with no biometrics fee being mandatory
    • If you’re between 14 and 78, the fee is $1,225 including the biometrics fee, which is mandatory
  • Refugees will have a free I-485
  • If applicable, the biometrics fee will be $85

EB1 Visa Processing Time

Usually, you have to wait around 8 months for an EB1 visa to be processed by the government. Then, after the approval of the I-140, it may take around 6 months until the government gives you the green card you were longing for.

With premium processing, though, you may get a processing decision in as little as up to 15 calendar days. The downside is that you will have to pay more money for the faster processing.

>> Read More: Green Card Process Steps & Processing Times

Read More

The Bottom Line

An EB1 visa is something many people desire, but not every immigrant will have the chance to obtain it. In order to qualify, you have to meet the eligibility criteria, and you also have to pay a lot in fees, particularly if you also want premium processing. That being said, if you want to apply for this visa, you should first make sure you meet all the criteria and prepare all the paperwork for the application.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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