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Questions and Answers: EB-1A Green Cards

The EB-1A green card is an employment-based visa reserved for individuals with proven, extraordinary abilities in specific fields. It is just one type of several different categories of employment-based green cards.

Navigating employment-based green cards and the EB-1A application process can be complex and challenging. To better assist you and our clients, our experienced immigration attorneys put together this FAQ guide for those who have questions about EB-1A green cards.

First and Foremost: What is an EB-1A Green Card?

The EB-1A visa is an employment-based, first-preference category visa. It is reserved for aliens of extraordinary ability ––– people that represent the top percentile of high-performing individuals in their respective field.

The employment-based, first-preference visa category has three sub-categories:

  • EB-1A: Aliens of extraordinary ability
  • EB-1B: Outstanding professors and researchers
  • EB-1C: Certain multinational managers or executives

The first two classifications apply to experts who have achieved a certain degree of national or international recognition and acknowledgment for the work they've contributed to their profession, field, or industry. Many have received awards and accolades for their outstanding contributions, innovations, and successes.

Note: Visit the USCIS website for additional information.

What is an EB-1A Green Card?

The EB-1A green card is reserved explicitly for aliens of extraordinary ability. The EB-1A is designated for individuals in the fields of:

  • Athletics
  • The arts
  • Sciences
  • Education
  • And Business

These individuals have either received national or international acclaim in their field of expertise. If you meet the EB-1A criteria that would qualify you for this visa, our experienced EB-1(A) Green Card Attorneys can help assess your case and assist you through the EB-1(A) Green Card application process.

Am I Eligible for an EB-1A Visa?

Individuals applying for an EB-1A visa must meet certain criteria to demonstrate and verify their extraordinary ability.

If you can showcase your measurable success and provide evidence you are one of the leading experts or top performers in your area, you may meet the eligibility criteria to apply for an EB-1A green card.

Read our recent article "EB-1A Criteria: Am I Eligible for an EB1A Visa?" to learn more.

Can I Self-Petition my EB-1A Green Card?

EB-1A green card applicants do not need to have a job offer to apply for EB-1A status. Applicants have the ability to self-petition. The EB-1A is the only employment-based green card category that allows applicants to self-petition (i.e., without the endorsement of a sponsor or employer).

In contrast, the O-1 nonimmigrant visa requires an employer sponsor. The O-1 eligibility criteria is similar to the EB-1A eligibility criteria, however, the O-1 visa is a work visa while the EB-1A is a green card visa.

Contact our EB-1A visa attorneys today if you have questions about self-petitioning, or need assistance applying.

How is the EB-1A Green Card Different From Other Employment-Based Green Cards?

As mentioned above, the EB-1A is reserved for aliens of extraordinary ability in education, athletics, the arts, business, and sciences.

EB-1B green cards are dedicated for outstanding professors and researchers, while the EB-1C classification is designated for multinational managers or executives.

Note: Also, see our O-1 visas page for other forms of non-immigrant visa classifications.

Primary Differences: EB-1A vs. EB-1B Green Cards?

The principal differences between EB-1A vs. EB-1B green cards are:

  • Fields, roles, and careers they apply to (refer back to the fields listed above)
  • Criteria and eligibility requirements

The EB-1B is for outstanding professors and researchers. Applicants must have at least three years of experience in teaching or research. They must also demonstrate “international recognition” in their academic field. The goal of the EB-1B visa is to continue teaching or researching in your academic field.

What are the Benefits EB-1A vs. Other Employment-Based Green Cards?

The primary benefit of the EB-1A over other employment-based green cards is that EB-1A applicants are able to self-petition. It is the only employment based green card category that allows individuals to self-petition. As a result, this employment-based visa category is extremely popular, assuming you meet the stringent eligibility requirements.

The EB-1A visa category requires the filing of the Form I-140 with USCIS.

Can I apply for an EB-1A if USCIS has previously denied me?

Yes, EB-1A applicants can re-apply if they were denied previously. It is beneficial, though, to review the reasons for the denial and address those in any subsequent filing. However, EB-1A applicants should not file for an EB-1A petition before speaking with an EB-1A immigration attorney.

What is the EB-1A Processing Time?

Currently, the processing time for USCIS to adjudicate the Form I-140 for EB-1A petitions is approximately 10-30 months, depending on where you live. However, the timeline can be shorter or longer depending on USCIS's current caseload at the time of your filing.

If you want or need a faster decision on your case, you can get premium processing by paying an additional fee. Premium processing will shorten your I-140 processing time to just 15 calendar days. If for some reason USCIS does not complete the processing within that time frame, it will refund your premium processing.

For more information on EB-1A processing times and premium processing, be sure to visit the EB-1A page on our website.

How Our Immigration Firm Can Help

Our immigration lawyers at The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm have helped many individuals and families with the EB-1A application process. More recently, we have worked with renowned award-winning physicians, research scientists, designers, and engineers who have made notable and unique contributions to their fields.

If you need assistance with your EB-1A case, call us today at 650-383-4306 or fill out our contact form at l so our attorneys can assist you through the application process.