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Ben Frear, Esq.

Immigration Lawyer for Entrepreneurs and Top Performers

Introduction: The Eb1 & Eb1a

There are thousands of amazing foreign nationals who are currently in the United States. This talented group helps provide the skill and the expertise that is required to move our businesses forward.

Of all of the amazing foreign nationals in our country, some of the most impressive have obtained the Eb1 green card.

The Eb1 green card is the first preference employment based green card. It is reserved for individuals who are at the top of their field. This post will briefly discuss the Eb1 green card in general and then focus on the Eb1a green card and its requirements

Eb1 Green Cards in General

If you qualify for the Eb1 green card, you are part of an elite group. The Eb1 category is reserved for priority workers who are welcomed due to their top notch skills and their ability to innovate and boost the US economy. The group includes persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding researchers/professors and multinational executives and managers.

The Major Benefits of the Eb1 Green Card Category

There are two major benefits that Eb1 Green Card applicants enjoy:

  1. Speed—For other employment based green card categories such as the Eb2 or the Eb3 there is oftentimes a long wait for green card availability after the application for the employee worker has been approved. With the Eb1, there is little to no wait to receive the green card after the application has been approved.
  2. No PERM—Many US employers do not want to go through the hassle of the PERM process. The PERM process requires employers to perform a test of the labor market to ensure that there are no qualified US workers who are willing and able to do the job. The long, tedious and expensive PERM process can be avoided if the applicant can qualify for an Eb1 green card.

The Three Eb1 Green Card Categories

There are three common Eb1 green card categories that employers can use to retain world class talent. The categories include the Eb1a, for individuals of extraordinary ability; the Eb1b for outstanding professors and researchers; and the Eb1c for multinational executives and managers.

eb1b professors and researchers

Outstanding Professors and Researchers(Eb1b)

To qualify for an Eb1 green card based on your reputation as an outstanding professor or researcher, you will have to prove the following:

  • You are internationally recognized for being outstanding in a specific academic area
  • You have three years of teaching or research experience in the area in which you are recognized as outstanding
  • You are coming to the US for:
    1. A tenure or tenure track position at a university or institution of higher education;
    2. A comparable research position at a university or institution of higher education;
    3. A comparable research position for a private employer if the organization employs at least three researchers and has been recognized for scholarly achievement

eb1c managers and executives

Managers and Executives(Eb1c)

The Eb1c is the Eb1 green card category that is intended for employees who will be working as a manager or executive for a US based employer. Your employer must have been doing business in the United States for at least one year. Additionally, you must have worked for a qualifying employer abroad, in a managerial or executive capacity for one of the three years prior to entering the United States.


In order for the US position to qualify as managerial, the duties abroad and the duties for the offered US based position must include:

  1. Managing a department/subdivision of the organization, or an essential function of the organization;
  2. Supervising and controlling the work of supervisors, managers or professionals or managing an essential function or a department or subdivision of the organization;
  3. Having the authority to hire and fire or recommend those actions as well as other personnel actions;
  4. Exercising discretion over the day to day operations

A position qualifies as executive if the duties abroad and in the US involve:

  • Directing the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;

  • Establishing goals and policies of the organization, component, or function of the organization

  • Having wide latitude in making discretionary decisions; and

  • Receiving only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization

The Limitations of the Eb1b and Eb1c Green Card Categories

For the Eb1 green card categories discussed above, the employer will have to be the sponsor. Also, there is currently no premium processing option for the Eb1b and the Eb1c green card. 

The Eb1a Vs. Eb1b & Eb1c

Of all of the green card options, the Eb1a is the most prestigious and difficult to obtain.

If you can demonstrate that you qualify for Eb1a classification, you will enjoy some major benefits. These benefits include:

  • The option of self petitioning
    • Please Note: Even though an individual can file an Eb1a petition without the assistance and support of an employer, they must plan on pursuing employment in the area of expertise. 
  • Availability of Premium Processing
    • Premium processing is a very convenient option for those who want to enter the United States as soon as possible. For an additional $2500 those who qualify for the Eb1a category can have their petition adjudicated within 15 days.

eb1a criteria

The Eb1a Criteria

Qualifying for the Eb1a means that you have risen to the top of your field and have had sustained international acclaim. In order to prove that you qualify for the Eb1a, you have to demonstrate that you have accepted a major international award(ie. the nobel prize). If you are at the top of your field but have not won such an award, you can present a combination of evidence that shows the US government that you are deserving of Eb1a classification. This evidence can include:

  • Receipt of other lesser known international or national awards
  • Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements
  • Published articles about you in professional or trade publications or major media
  • Proof that you have judged work of others in your field
  • Evidence that you have made scholarly contributions to your field
  • Proof that you have performed a critical role for organizations of distinguished reputation
  • Evidence that you command a high salary for work in your field
  • Anything else that shows that you are at the very top of your field

When you are considering the possibility of the Eb1a category, it is important to know that at a very minimum, you should plan to submit evidence from three of the categories listed above. However, even if you submit evidence from three of the categories listed above, the government may still reject your petition. USCIS now conducts secondary assessments for this category. During this secondary assessment they will scrutinize the petition and determine if you have achieved sustained national/international acclaim and have risen to the top of your field.

Conclusion: Is the Eb1a Right for You?

The Eb1a Green Card is the most advantageous employment based green card. However, it is oftentimes difficult to demonstrate that you meet the requirements. Therefore, it is important to talk to a knowledgable business immigration lawyer who can evaluate your chances of success in the Eb1a or another green card category.

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