EB1 Visa

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Who it's for

  • A person of extraordinary ability in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics (EB1A);
  • An outstanding professor or researcher (EB1B); or
  • A multinational executive or manager who will work in America for the same multinational employer for whom they were employed abroad for 1 out of the last 3 years in an executive or managerial capacity (EB1C).

Extraordinary ability (EB1A) requires

  • Able to show sustained national or international acclaim for their field of expertise;
  • To be seeking to enter America for the purpose of continuing work in their field of expertise; and
  • To be able to show a high level of achievement in their field by the receipt of a major internationally recognised award (e.g. Nobel Prize or Academy Award); or
  • To be able to provide evidence of at least three of the following (more is generally better, but on the other hand, stronger evidence for three categories may be preferable to weaker evidence in four):
    • Receipt of a lesser national or international prize in their field
    • Membership of associations requiring outstanding achievements of their members (membership by payment alone is unlikely to be sufficient; invited membership is better)
      • Notoriously difficult to prove. USCIS are skeptical of many organisations so be prepared to back this up very well.
    • Published material in professional journals, major trade publications, or the major media about the applicant's accomplishments in their field.
      • References to their [ie your] work
      • Articles about the work itself)
    • Participated in a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied field
    • Original scientific, scholarly or artistic contributions of major significance in their field
    • Authorship of scholarly articles in their field
      • Must be well respected publications, such as national magazines or trade journals
    • Display of work at artistic exhibitions in more than one country
    • Performance in a lead, staring, or critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations
      • Organization charts
      • Confirmation of position (employment contract)
      • Roles and responsibilities
    • Commanding a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in their field
      • Salary >90% of others in the same position in the industry for the country or area
      • It does not need to compare to US salaries
    • Commercial success in the performing arts
  • Intention to continue in the field of expertise.
    • Offers of employment are best
    • Indications of interest are useful
    • A personal statement indicating your intent to continue in the field of expertise is useful
    • Though employment is not a condition of EB1A, it is clearly important to USCIS so this part of the I-140 and the supporting evidence should not be ignored.

Do not underestimate how difficult this visa type is to prove. It's one of the "gold cards" of immigration so they are very strict on who gets in. Unconfirmed statistics report only about half get approved. Any decent attorney would not try for you if (s)he didn't think you had a chance. It's all about getting evidence, evidence to prove the evidence, and evidence to prove the evidence that proves the evidence. Often the three or more categories you think are strongest are not what the officials think.

Benefits

  • Permanent residency in the US
  • Work for you and your married spouse, no labor certification required

Forms Required

  • G-28 if an attorney works for you (recommended) (filing is free; the attorney is not)
  • I-140 ($580) for the primary applicant only
  • I-485 Adjustment of status if you are already in the US (not required outside) ($TBC) for each applicant
  • I-907 Premium Processing (optional) ($1225) for the primary applicant only
  • DS-230 ($TBC) for each applicant

(Costs as of March 2011) "Each applicant" means per applicant, spouse, and child.

Attorney

Recommended to use an attorney who regularly deals with these visas successfully, due to the specialist nature that has to be conveyed to the officials. They will know what type of language and evidence works, and what doesn't. Fees will obviously vary between attorneys but you could expect to pay between $6,000 and $10,000 for a case with no complications, in addition to the filing fees above.

If a Request for Further Evidence is received, expect the attorney to charge an additional fee to prepare the response if it's anything more than a better photocopy of evidence (s)he already has.

Processing Time

Depends where you're from and your background. For an attorney to prepare your case for submission, anything from 3 to 9 months could be reasonable. A lot of back and forth between yourself and the attorney could extend this; obviously the quicker you get your evidence submitted in a suitable form, the quicker it'll be.

Once submitted, average processing times for uncomplicated UK citizens is currently (March 2011) averaging just over 4 months. Premium processing without complications, RFEs etc in theory takes 15 calendar days. You might need to wait a week or more for an interview at the Embassy/Consulate before being approved.

After the I-140 has been approved, your application then has to go to the National Visa Center to actually issue you with a visa. Current reports indicate this takes about 3-4 months but the process can allegedly be sped up by pre-empting each of their exchanges to you, resulting in a visa in potentially under a month if everything goes well and you do everything promptly.

So, in summary, the entire process could take anything from 4 months to a couple of years. All timescales are entirely dependent on your personal circumstances and those of the USCIS and NVC so your times could vary wildly.