EB1 Visa: A Lawyer’s Overview

EB1 Visa Overview

The EB1 classification stands for “Employment-Based First Preference Category.” An EB1 visa lets you get a green card if you’re a leader in your field. In particular, that field could be science, art, business, or athletics.  Many refer to EB1 green cards as a green card for “geniuses” or “superstars.” Overall, this article will help you decide if you fit this elite EB1 green card classification.  Keep in mind, the EB-1 category has similar requirements as the O-1 nonimmigrant visa.  The O-1 Visa may be a better option in some circumstances.

Below, we discuss the types of EB1 green cards and their requirements. Also, we’ll discuss the procedure for getting a visa and the processing times.

Fortunately, even if you don’t qualify for the EB1 visa, there are other employment-based options. To learn more, visit our EB2 visa and EB3 visa pages.


Categories of EB1 Visa

There are three types of EB1 visas.

Extraordinary Ability (EB1-A visa)

This category is for individuals in the top percentile in their field. There are two ways to obtain an EB1-A green card. First, you can give evidence that you meet three of ten extraordinary ability criteria listed in the law. Second, you can prove you were the recipient of an internationally recognized award.  To qualify, you must have won awards such as the Nobel Prize or an Academy Award.

Outstanding professors and researchers (EB1-B visa)

The EB-1B category is for noncitizens who are outstanding researchers or professors. This means that your particular field gave you recognition for outstanding achievements. Furthermore, a university must offer you a tenure track teaching position or something similar.

Certain Multinational manager or executive (EB1-C visa)

This category is for workers who are “executives” or “managers” of multinational companies. The requirements for this category are like those for L1A visas. To qualify, you must fit the legal definition of an executive or manager. In addition, you must work for the petitioning employer for at least 12 months out of the last 3 years.

Requirements of EB1 Visa

We mentioned the categories for the EB1 visa, so we’ll now talk about the specifics of each.

Requirements for Extraordinary Ability (EB1-A visa)

There are two ways to get an EB1 green card in this category. First, you could qualify if you won an internationally recognized award.  This can be difficult because there’s no definition for “internationally recognized award.” Second, you can show that you have extraordinary ability by meeting three of ten criteria in the law. Below are are the ten criteria listed in the law.

  • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
  • Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members.
  • Published material about you in professional or other major media.
  • Being asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel.
  • You have original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field.
  • Publishing scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  • Your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  • Performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.
  • Commanding a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.
  • Commercial successes in the performing arts.

Requirements For Outstanding professors and researchers (EB1-B visa)

This category is like the EB1-A in that you can qualify by meeting two of six criteria listed in the law. They are:

  • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement.
  • Membership in associations that require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievement.
  • Published material in professional publications written by others about your work in the academic field.
  • Participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same academic field.
  • Original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field.
  • Authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field.

Requirements For Certain Multinational manager or executive (EB1-C visa)

The title of “Executive” or “Manager” for one of the last three years doesn’t guarantee an EB1 green card. Specifically, to be an “Executive” or “Manager” you must be a boss of other professionals. For example, you oversee a group of accountants or engineers and you’re directly involved in operation or policy management.

Difficulty of Getting EB1 Visa

EB1 can be very hard to get because you can apply without a job offer. This means you self-petition to come and live in the U.S. permanently. The EB1 green card is for noncitizens who are the best in their fields. Examples of some individuals who would qualify are Pulitzer Prize winners, Olympic medalists, or Nobel Prize Winners.

The EB1 Process

Typically, there are two steps to the EB1 process:

1. Show immigration officials you qualify for one of the three EB1 categories using a Form I-140.
2. Apply for the green card here in the U.S. (Form I-485). Alternatively, if you live abroad, you would apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Processing Times

EB1 Processing Time Overview

Generally, getting an EB1 green card takes around 8-12 months if you’re applying in the U.S.  This is because the petition (I-140) and green card application (I-485) are sent together. Alternatively, if you are applying from outside the U.S., then the process can take two years. When you’re outside the country, the government processes your petition and the green card application separately.

I-140 Processing Times

The processing time for the I-140 is roughly 3-12 months.  But it depends on your EB1 category. Also, it depends on the strength of your case.  However, you can speed up the process using premium processing. If you use premium processing, immigration will issue a decision in your case within 15 days.

Remember, the I-140 is only half of the process. You will still need to request the green card here in the U.S. (Form I-485) OR abroad at a U.S. embassy or consulate (Consular Processing).

What is the timeline for an EB1 Visa after the I-140 approval?

Approval of the I-140 visa does not mean will get your green card right away. Sometimes you must wait for a EB1 green card to be “available.” You can find out if EB1 visas are available by checking the visa bulletin. If an EB1 visa is available for your country then you can file for the green card.

There are a fixed number of green cards in the EB1 category. The visa bulletin tells you how many green cards are available in each category for a given month. Specifically, the visa bulletin says when you can apply for the EB1 green card.

Reading the Visa Bulletin

To read the visa bulletin, check whether your country of origin is listed. If it’s not there, then look under the column “All Changeability Areas Except Those Listed.” Once you have found the right column then go to where it says “3rd.” Check what date the bulletin lists under “1st” category using your country.

If the date listed reads “C,” then you don’t have to wait except for the time that it takes to process your green card. By contrast, if there is a date stated, then immigration is processing only those petitions (Form I-140) filed before that date. In other words, you can’t get your EB1 visa until the date you filed your I-140 is before the date listed. For example, if you’re from India, and we look at the chart below, then immigration is only processing EB3 visas for petitions filed before January 1, 2020.

Visa Bulletin

Related Topics

Need more helpful information? We've got you covered.

B2 Visitor Visa: A Complete Guide

This article is a complete guide for filing B2 Visitor Visa. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).

R1 Visa: A Complete Guide [2023]

The R1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa category that allows religious workers to enter the United States temporarily to engage in religious work.

Navigating the Requirements of VAWA for Immigration Relief: A Comprehensive Guide

VAWA, which stands for Violence Against Women Act, is a U.S. law that was first passed in 1994 to provide protections and resources for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, including immigrant victims.

U Visa: Requirements & Processing Times

A U visa is a type of non-immigrant visa available to individuals who are victims of certain crimes and who cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of those crimes.

O-1 Visa: Visas for Extraordinary Ability

An O-1 visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa issued by the United States to individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.

USCIS Online Account: A Guide to ELIS

The USCIS Online Account Number, also known as the USCIS Account Number, is a unique identification number assigned to individuals who create an online account with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Alien Number: Find Your A-Number [2023]

Immigration agencies assign many non-citizens an identification number. The agencies use this number for all filings and to keep track of non-citizens. For this reason, it's important for your to know if immigration has given you one. In this article, we'll explain the number know as the "alien number," how to find it and what you use it for,

I-90 Form: How to Renew Your Green Card by Mail [2023]

The form I-90 is an application that is used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) when a green card holder needs to replace or renew his or her card. This page provides explanations of when to use the form, how to file it, where to file and the filing fees.

EB2 Green Card Overview: A Complete Guide [2023]

EB2 stands for "Employment-Based Second Preference Category." Learn everything you need to get an EB2 Green Card or EB2 Visa. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know for a basic understanding of the process.

How to Move Your Immigration Court

Moving your case to a different immigration court can be helpful. Learn how to transfer your case to a different city or state.

Master Hearing in Immigration Court

The master hearing is the first hearing before an immigration court. Learn more about what to expect from the immigration judge and how to prepare.

How to Cancel A Deportation Order

Do you have a removal order? Learn what how it will affect you and what you can do to cancel a deportation order.

Can A Deported Person Come Back Legally?

If you're deported from the United States, you can still fix your papers. Learn about the penalties for deportations, and how you can still get your papers.

Individual Hearing in Immigration Court

Individual hearings in immigration court are your last chance to fight a deportation. Learn what happens at a final hearing and how to prepare.

EB3 Visa: A Lawyer’s Guide

EB3 Visas are skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers. Learn if you qualify for an EB3 green card and how to apply.

Work Permit: A Guide for Immigrants

Learn everything you need to know about getting a work permit in the U.S. Here, we discuss the process, qualifications and cost of a work permit in the U.S.

F1 Visa Work Options: A Complete Guide [2023]

International students on F1 visas often ask if they can work legally. F-1 students can learn more here about whether they can work and where.

Bring a Sibling to the USA: Sibling Green Cards

Learn how to bring your brother or sister to the USA. In this article, we discuss the process and the different relatives you can sponsor to come to the country.

Automatic Citizenship in the U.S.

Learn who can automatically become a United States citizen and how to apply. Here, we discuss how to directly qualify to become a U.S. citizen without having to wait.

The Conditional Green Card: 7 Things To Know

Immigration has issued you a two year temporary conditional green card. Find out the 7 most important things to know about conditional green cards. In the article, we'll discuss processing and complicated situations that may come up.

Green Card Interview: A Complete Guide [2023]

Being interviewed by an immigration officer can be stressful. Here you'll learn everything you need to be ready and pass your green card interview. After reading this article, you'll be more prepared for immigration's questions for you.

F1 to H1B: An Immigration Lawyer’s Thoughts

Learn here how F1 students can get their H1B visas, the difference between change of status and H1B consular processing, and how to handle F1 to H1B denials.

F1 To Green Card: A Complete Guide [2023]

International students often want a way to go from F1 to green card. Learn everything you need to know about how international students can become permanent residents.

DACA News: Helping Dreamers Stay Current

Get up to date information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for Dreamers. In this article, you'll find a description of the latest news and other explanations of the current state of the DACA program.

Public Charge Rule: Immigration’s New Rules

The Trump Administration has made it harder for immigrants to prove they financially qualify for a green card. Find out more about how to show you are not a public charge.

N400 Status: Checking Your Citizenship Process [2023]

If you filed an N400, you will need to stay on top of the status of your citizenship application. Find out how to check your N400 case status and more about the naturalization process. In this article, we'll review how to know when USCIS delays processing and what to do about it.

Asylum Case Status: A Complete Guide [2023]

If you are afraid to return to your home country, you may have filed a Form I-589, Application for Asylum. Learn how to check your asylum application status and what to expect throughout the process.

I-765 Case: What’s My Work Permit Status? [2023]

Confirming your I-765 case status is important. A lot depends on getting your work permit -- your job, your driver's license, and your social security card. Learn how to check the status of your work permit application.

Speeding Up Your Immigration Case With USCIS

If you have applied for an immigration benefit, you don't want to wait on USCIS any longer than necessary. Find out here how to speed up your case with USCIS.

USCIS Delays in Your Immigration Case

If you applied for a green card, citizenship, or other immigration benefit with USCIS, you may encounter delays in processing. These can be frustrating, but here are some common causes of delays and how to fix them.

USCIS Delays In Your Green Card Application (I-485)

Immigrants send tens of thousands of green card applications every year to USCIS. Often, you and others confront delays in USCIS making a decision on their green card application. While this can be frustrating, you can speed up the process by knowing the common causes of delays and how to fix them.

I-485 Status Check: A Complete Guide [2022]

The ultimate guide in getting your I-485 status check. Find out how to determine the status of your application and what to do if it's delayed.

I-130 Status: Checking a Pending Petition [2023]

If you filed an I-130 Petition, then you are trying to get a green card through marriage or some other family relationship to a U.S. citizen or green cardholder. Once you filed the I-130, you will probably want to follow up to check the status of your case. Here's how.