EB1-A: Individuals of Extraordinary Ability


The EB1-A immigrant visa is a subcategory of the EB-1 employment-based green card, allocated to individuals who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor. Individuals who have a leading role in science, art, education, business, or athletics and possess extraordinary ability in their field of endeavor may be eligible to gain U.S. permanent residency under the EB1-A category. Individuals qualifying under this visa category need not secure a job position, putting them at advantage over EB-2 (the case is different with regard to EB-2 NIW visa applicants) applicants.



There are certain requirements that individuals should meet in order to obtain U.S. permanent residency under the EB1-A category. The eligibility criteria for EB1-A are as follows:

  • The foreign national should sustain national or international acclaim for his or her achievements in the field of endeavor, whether it be science, art, education, business, or athletics.
  • The foreign national should intend to continue working in the same field.
  • The foreign national should be able to prove how his/her expertise would benefit the U.S. 
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EB1-A Documentation

In order to demonstrate that a foreign national has received national or international acclaim, he or should have either received a one-time achievement (a major internationally recognized prize such as a Nobel Prize) or satisfy at least three of the following criteria:


Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor:

  • The criteria for receiving the award as well as how many people competed for it should be cited.
  • The award should be national or international in scope and student awards do not meet the threshold.


Membership in an association that requires outstanding achievement as a condition of membership in the field for which the classification is sought:

  • Membership in associations which only require the payment of nominal fee for membership does not suffice.


Published material about the foreign national or his/her work in professional, trade journals, or major media publications:

  • The foreign national should be the primary focus of the published material and the mere fact that the published material quotes the foreign national’s work does not suffice.
  • The foreign national should provide information on the title, date, and author of the published material.


The foreign national’s participation, on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or a related field:

  • Foreign nationals may serve as a reviewer for journals and conferences with national or international reputation.
  • Foreign nationals demonstrating that they have judged a high number of articles and conference papers published in reputable journals have a higher chance of obtaining U.S. permanent residency under the EB1-A category.
  • Serving on dissertation graduate committees may also be acceptable under this prong.


Evidence of original contributions, usually through publication, of major significance in the foreign national’s fields of science, scholastic, artistic, or athletic:

  • Recommendation letters from independent experts highlighting the foreign national’s significant contribution to his/her field of endeavor may be presented.
  • Patents which have significantly impacted the relevant field may also satisfy this criterion.
  • Evidence that a foreign national’s work has been widely used, adopted, built on, or cited by independent peers is also looked upon favorably.


Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media:

  • USCIS gives substantial weight to the quality of the published articles, the number of citations, and the reputation of the journal the article has been published in.


Display of the foreign national’s work at significant exhibitions (this criterion is useful for an artist who has publicly displayed his or her work)


Performance in a significant role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation:

  • Documentary evidence may include letters verifying the foreign national’s leading or critical role as well as the organization’s reputation.


Receipt of a higher salary or remuneration than is usual in the field:

  • The foreign national must submit evidence of earnings in comparison with those performing similar work, having similar levels of experience, and working in the same geographical location. 


Commercial success in the performing arts such as cassette or video sales (this criterion is used by artists)


Other comparable evidence if the above types of evidence do not readily apply to the foreign national’s occupations.

Final Merits Determination

If the applicant establishes that he/she has received a one-time achievement or fulfills three of the foregoing requirements, then USCIS will evaluate all of the evidence in the record to determine whether the applicant has sustained national or international acclaim for his/her achievements and that he/she is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.


Many advantages can be enumerated for the EB1-A visa category including but not limited to:

  • Individuals can self-petition and a job offer is not required in this visa category.
  • There is no need to go through the lengthy labor certification process.
  • The EB1-A immigrant visa is current which means that it is faster to obtain a U.S. green card in this category as compared to EB-2 and EB-3 categories.
  • Premium processing is available to EB1-A applicants.
  • The foreign applicant’s spouse and unmarried children may also receive a U.S. immigrant visa under the EB1-A category.

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