EB1-A Green Card (Green card for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement)

Mayank Mohan-

Mayank Mohan, Esq. is a practicing attorney at Law Offices of Mayank Mohan in Santa Monica, California (www.ilomm.com). The views expressed are his own.EB1-A Green Card (Green card for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement).


Tired of Waiting for a Green Card? Consider filing an EB-1A petition: An Objective Framework to Evaluate your Eligibility.


The US employment based green card/permanent residency process is categorized by preference classes. Each class has its own set of eligibility rules and their own waiting period. At the very top of the preference class is the EB1A category (Extraordinary Ability).  It is reserved for individuals who can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim.


The key benefits of applying under the EB1-A category are:

  • Ability to self-petition (no employer sponsorship)
  • No offer of employment or labor certification is required
  • Low to a negligible waiting period before the green card and,
  • Availability of premium processing of the I-140 petition.


Key Requirements for Green Card under EB1-A category:

  • Applicant must meet at least 3 of the 10 criteria for demonstrating extraordinary ability or provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal)
  • Applicant must provide evidence showing that applicant will be continuing to work in the area of his/ her expertise.
  • Applicant’s work and presence in US must offer a substantial benefit to the United States


The general perception about the EB1-A category is that it is very difficult to qualify. While there is some truth in this perception, with careful planning and case preparation, it is possible to qualify for this category of permanent residency.


With a very low rate of green card availability for candidates from India under the traditional second and third employment-based preference categories, there has been a significant rise in interest in exploring the EB1-A potential. To assist potential candidates in evaluating their chances of qualifying for an EB1-A category Green Card, we use an objective framework described briefly below.


At the time of this writing, our most successful cases include physicians, scientists, technical managers, and engineers.


We start our evaluations by first laying out the very basic framework for the EB1-A, which practically means – the case must meet 3 or more criteria as laid out under 8 CFR § 204.5(h)(3) and it must demonstrate that the candidate has sustained national or international acclaim and that he/she has to the top in their field of endeavor.


Given the typical profile, the criteria that are most commonly at play are (note that we have simplified the terminology a bit to make the meaning more intuitive):


  1. Significant contributions to the field
  2. Publications and conference presentations
  3. Leading/critical roles in prominent organizations
  4. Media coverage of the work
  5. Judge of the work of others
  6. Higher compensation


Based on a review of the candidate’s credentials and other facts, we assign a score of 0 -10 to each criterion. The score is based on the strength of quality and quantity of evidence.


As a stylized example consider the criterion – leading/critical role in prominent organizations – there are 3 categories of evidence in consideration – a leading role, a critical role, prominent organizations. Here quality of evidence is generally ascertained by factors like – leading a team of professionals, work on critical projects (high $ value), participation in organizational teams that define strategy/policies, degree of separation from top level management, prominence of organization/s – market value, awards/recognitions, innovation etc. Quantity of evidence could mean # years of experience in those roles, # people led in the organization/s, # of critical projects etc.


In the next step, we check if the candidate’s profile has scored at least:


  1. a) 6 points each on at least 3 criteria; and
  2. b) Total of 25 points.


Unless both conditions are met, our estimated chances of immediate success are low.


If the above conditions are met, then we determine if the credentials demonstrate sustained acclaim and recognition in the top few in the field of endeavor. To evaluate this, we count # of criterion with a score of 8 or higher. Additionally, we also look at any specific credentials which could be highlighted – for example a well-known award, coverage in prominent media, publication in an exclusive journal or a critical role in a renowned organization. If such factors are available, we assign a bonus point.


A count of at least 2 and a bonus point in our estimate makes the matter ripe for immediate filing and a likely success.  Count less than 2 but with a bonus point, may still be successful but the chances of success in our estimate are lower. Count less than 2 and no bonus point, in our opinion, is not ready for filing.


Different attorneys may have different ways of evaluating a potential EB1-A case. We have briefly shared our approach here which we have found to be effective in our practice. This article contains general suggestions and information. For your own benefit please don’t consider this legal advice. While effort is taken to ensure accuracy the immigration programs and the policies are in constant flux. It is therefore highly recommended that you consult a U.S. Immigration Attorney to evaluate the options available to you.