The EB-1A Extraordinary Ability visa is a visa that permits individuals who have risen to the very top of their respective fields to directly apply for a permanent residence in the US.    It is a visa designed to allow the very best individuals in their respective field a direct path to permanent residence.

The evidentiary requirements for this visa are extremely high and the vast majority of individuals will not qualify.  However, those who do will have a direct and timely (by US immigration standards), method of obtaining a green card, that will not require a job offer, family sponsored petition or large investment in a US business or project.

Our immigration attorneys can analyze your profile and will give you an honest and realistic assessment of your chances of success.  The requirements for this visa are outlined below.

For an EB-1A to be approved, one must meet the requirements of sections I or II:

I – Major International Award

Receipt of a major International Award can, standing alone, be sufficient for a case to be approved if the award is significant enough in the applicant’s field.  Some examples include:

  • Pulitzer Prize
  • Emmy Award
  • Grammy Award
  • Olympic Medal
  • World Championship Victory


II – Meet at least 3 of the 10 criteria listed below:

  • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  • Membership in associations in the field, which require outstanding achievements of its members, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
  • Published material about the applicant in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  • Participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specification for which classification is sought;
  • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance;
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  • Display of the applicant’s work at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  • Having performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  • Have Commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services;
  • Commercial successes in the performing arts


The requirements of the EB-1A visa can be extremely difficult to prove and a successful case often requires careful planning and several months of gathering and preparing documentation.  The process is made more complicated by the fact that many of the requirements have subjective components whose interpretation can vary greatly from one immigration officer to another.  One USCIS officer may accept that a given prize is “nationally recognized,” whereas another may not.  Similarly, what constitutes a “contribution of major significance” also requires an exercise of discretion and varies from officer to officer.

Our attorneys provide personalized advice regarding how to structure your case and what evidence to present for each legal requirement, in order to ensure that your case has the highest chance of success.  The attorney will also take an active role in suggesting and helping you to develop supplemental evidence to give the immigration officer context and help them to understand why you meet the applicable legal requirements.


Main Advantage of the EB-1A Visa

  • Premium Processing – EB-1A visas can be approved in 15 calendar days for an additional fee of $2,500, paid to USCIS.
  • Self Petition – It is one of only 2 visa employment based immigrant visas that does not require either a US employer to sponsor the process, a substantial monetary investment or ownership of a business. The other being the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (hyperlink).


What if I am close but not quite at EB-1A Level?

There exist 2 other visas, the O-1A and O-1B (hyperlinks here) Extraordinary Ability visas that have similar but somewhat less stringent requirements, but require a job offer or sponsorship by an agent.  Many individuals who ultimately file successful EB-1A cases first come to the US with O-1 visas and develop their professional profile until such time that the EB-1A becomes a viable option.

Additionally, many candidates who do not meet the relatively precise EB-1A requirements can quality for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver.