A Boutique Immigration Law Firm Serving the Bay Area

EB-1A Criteria: Requirements for an EB-1A Green Card

The immigration service determines eligibility for an EB-1A green card through a rigorous evaluation of whether the applicant has "extraordinary ability" in their field.

Navigating the waters of EB-1A can be a daunting, complex process. That's why our attorneys at The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm are taking the time to answer some Frequently Asked Questions about EB-1A visas.

One of the most common questions our clients ask is whether they are eligible for the EB-1A green card category. In general, EB-1A applicants need to provide evidence in three major categories (laid out by USCIS) to be eligible for an EB-1A.

1. Evidence of Extraordinary Abilities in Specific Fields

The EB-1A green card is reserved for individuals with extraordinary success in the fields of education, athletics, the arts, business, or sciences. We have worked with dozens of successful EB-1A green card candidates who have exhibited tremendous success in various fields.

We have worked with scientists, doctors, software developers, artists, and entrepreneurs.

For example, we recently worked with a surgeon who won prestigious awards, a research scientist who played a leading and critical role in his organization, and an engineer who made unique contributions in his field.

We recently filed cases and received approvals within weeks. In one instance, we filed a case in U.S. Federal Court and received approval within weeks of submitting our response.

What is considered substantial evidence of extraordinary abilities?

USCIS requires that applicants must show evidence (documentation, letters, receipts, etc.) for at least 3 out of the following 10 pieces of criteria:

  • International or nationally recognized awards or prizes for excellence: Ex: Nobel Prize, Olympic Medal, Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar, etc.
  • Membership to associations or organizations in your field that require notable achievements or success in order to become a member.
  • Published material that discusses you and your vocational endeavors or achievements in professional journals, influential or reputable trade publications, or other major media formats.
  • Served as or currently serves as a judge for the work of others in your field: Either as an individual or on a panel.
  • Original business, athletic, scientific, scholarly, or artistic contributions of value or significance to the field.
  • Authorship: Published works, books, scholarly articles in professional journals, major trade publications, and/or major media formats.
  • Work that has been presented or is currently on display at art showcases or exhibitions.
  • Performs a leading or crucial role in distinguished or prominent organizations.
  • Commands a comparably high salary to other experts in the field: pay stubs, employment offer letter, etc.
  • Proof of commercial achievement in the performing arts: Entertainment sales, ticket sales, box office success metrics, etc.

Note: EB-1A green card applicants with evidence of a major, one-time achievement: Nobel Prize, Olympic Medal, Oscar, or Pulitzer Prize are not required to provide other forms of evidence.

2. Supporting Documentation for Your Extraordinary Abilities

As an EB-1A applicant, you need to illustrate you have achieved national or international recognition or acclaim in your field. This is usually done through such things as documentation of your awards, membership to esteemed organizations in your field, media coverage of your work, and/or endorsements from important figures in your field.

A critical part of your application is reference letters (also known as support letters, recommendation letters or testimonial letters). These letters describe your accomplishments and the impact your accomplishments have made in your field. According to USCIS, explaining the impact of a contribution shows that the contribution was significant, which is one of the EB-1A requirements. We usually recommend obtaining at least 7 letters. The letters ideally should be from individuals who themselves are renowned, who know your work and who are not all co-workers. However, at least 1 reference letter should be from your supervisor and describe the leading and/or critical role you play in your organization.

At our law firm, we help you select the individuals from whom to obtain the letters and we also help draft the letters.

Other additional evidence to provide with your application would be such things as photocopies of the awards you received along with the award selection criteria, the by-laws or similar documents showing the selection criteria for any prestigious memberships, and excerpts of your publications. We do not rely solely on Google Scholar for citation counts and a high number of citations may also not be necessary, depending on your field of expertise.

3. Show Intent to Continue work in The Field

USCIS regulations require that applicants for EB-1A green cards show intent to continue working in their field of expertise and recognition. This requires EB-1A applicants to demonstrate a history of having worked in their field. We at The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm can also help you determine what would be your field.

For more information on eligibility criteria, be sure to visit these helpful resources on USCIS.gov:

How Our EB-1A Immigration Law Firm Can Help

Our EB-1 immigration lawyers have a thorough understanding of U.S. immigration laws and are well-versed in the EB-1A requirements.

We have worked with some of the top percentages of high-performing individuals in these fields, from scientists to artists. The EB-1A category is highly advantageous for Indian citizens because of the high backlog in the other employment-based green card categories for India.

If you have additional questions about EB-1A green cards or need assistance with the application process, contact our EB-1A attorneys, The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm.

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