EB1-A: Extraordinary Ability in the Arts as a Path to a Green Card

There are several employment-based visas that allow an immigrant to obtain a green card and permanently live and work in the United States. You may apply for a green card based  EB1-A visa if you are able to demonstrate you have gained national or international recognition in your field. You must prove your expertise and acclaim by providing Immigration Services with a variety of supporting documentation.

Employment-Based Visa for Extraordinary Abilities

What is an EB1-A Visa?

The EB1-A visa is an immigrant visa for people that are particularly talented in certain fields. Specifically, the EB1-A visa is designed to help those with extraordinary abilities in the arts – such as achievements in business or outstanding performance in film or television, modelling or graphic design – to obtain a green card in the United States.

The EB1-A visa is unique, because unlike every other employment-based visas, you don’t need to have an employer. That means even without a job offer, you can apply for a green card based on your extraordinary ability in your field.

What requirements do I have to meet to be approved?

Extraordinary ability means that you are one of very few people who have risen to the very top of your field. There are multiple ways of proving extraordinary ability, such as receiving major awards in your industry, receiving a very high salary compared to others in your field, and several other factors.

It is similar to the O-1 visa, but, the requirements are more stringent, and at the end of the process, the applicant will be able to live and work in the United States permanently.

EB1-A Criteria

You have to show that you have sustained national or international acclaim, that you plan to continue working in your area of expertise, and your work benefits the United States.

Extraordinary Ability Visa in Los Angeles

The individual may seek entry to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. In  addition to sustained acclaim, the applicant must show that his or her entry will substantially benefit the U.S. Unlike most other petitions, no job offer is required and one can even self-petition for permanent residency. Evidence to demonstrate “sustained national or international acclaim” could be a one-time achievement such as a major international award (for example, a Nobel Prize, Oscar or Grammy). If the applicant is not the recipient of such an award then documentation of any three of the following is sufficient:

How To Show You Have Extraordinary Ability In Your Field

If you have won a major award, like a Grammy, a Nobel prize, or an Oscar, that’s all you’ll need to show. But if you have not won a major award, don’t worry! The other, more common approach is to illustrate that you meet at least three of the following criteria by providing evidence that shows:

  1. You’ve won a lesser-known prize or award for excellence in your field;
  2. You’re a member of an association related to your field, which requires outstanding achievements of their members;
  3. Material has been published about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  4. Evidence of the alien’s participation, either individually or on a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specification for which classification is sought;
  5. You have made original contributions of major significance in the field;
  6. Your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  7. You have performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  8. Your salary is high compared to others’ in the field; or
  9. You have had major commercial success in the performing arts.

Frequently Asked Questions

I already got an O-1 visa based on extraordinary ability, am I automatically qualified for the EB1-A?

Not necessarily. The EB1-A visa requirements are very similar to those of the O-1 visa, but not identical.  

How long does it take?

That depends. If you elect for USCIS to do premium processing  for an additional fee, you could find out in less than 2 weeks if you’re qualified. If not, processing times can take 6 months or longer. Once you have the visa application approved, you’ll move forward with the green card application, during which time you can apply for work and travel authorization.

What Documents do I Need to Apply for an EB1-A Visa?

The documents you’ll need will depend greatly on your field. Proof of awards, or evidence of having held a major position with a prestigious company, or a major role in films will all be helpful. All documents need to be translated.

Will I have to attend an interview?

Yes. As of March 3, 2017, all applicants for a green card are required to appear for an interview before their green card is issued.

Work with a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney to Get an EB1-A Visa

If you are a talented professional looking to increase your success in your field, living and working in the United States may be imperative to your career. Because of the complex nature of the visa application process, it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced Los Angeles lawyer. At the Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C., our talented immigration lawyers will guide you through the system to alleviate unnecessary delays or complications. Contact us online or call 213-584-8870 today for your consultation.