The EB-1A visa falls within the employment-based immigrant visa category and is created for individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in fields such as sciences, arts, business and athletics. This visa is designed to attract high-achieving individuals in the belief that they will contribute greatly to the United States population by sharing their talents. 

Why the EB-1A Visa is unique and desirable 

The EB-1A visa is strongly desired because it does not require applicants to obtain a PERM labor certification. Getting a PERM/labor certification can be difficult, and the process could take around 18 months. Without having to go through the process of obtaining this certification, there is a faster processing time for acquiring a green card. In addition, EB-1A visa holders are not required to have a specific job offer or employer sponsorship, providing them with the freedom to work in any field or occupation they choose. Successful EB-1A visa applicants are granted permanent residency in the United States, enabling them to live and work in the country indefinitely.

You may be interested in the EB-1 Visa to learn more about the different categories that fall under it.

EB-1A Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the EB-1A visa, an applicant must meet certain criteria that demonstrate their extraordinary ability and potential contribution to the United States. According to the USCIS, you must either “include evidence of a one-time achievement,” such as a major internationally-recognized award, OR meet at least 3 out of the following 10 requirements: 

  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  • Evidence of your membership in associations in the field that demand outstanding achievement of their members
  • Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  • Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
  • Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
  • Evidence of your performance in a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
  • Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  • Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts

The EB-1A Visa Timeline


The application process for the EB-1A visa involves several steps that require careful preparation and attention to detail:

  • Collect Evidence: Applicants must gather substantial evidence that showcases their extraordinary abilities and contributions, as well as prepare evidence for Form I-140.
  • Complete and sign Form 1-140 and include any of the documents prepared above for your application. 
  • File by sending all forms and required documents to the direct filing address for your form. To obtain an EB-1A Green Card, you must file, and receive approval of, both an I-140 Immigrant Petition and an I-485 Adjustment of Status Application. There are two application filing strategies available: concurrent filing or separate filing:
    • Concurrent filing: if you have a strong EB-1A profile and your priority date is current, you can choose to file your I-140 Immigrant Petition and I-485 Adjustment of Status Application together and pay both filing fees. 
    • Separate filing: if there are uncertainties about your EB-1A profile and your priority date is not current, you can file the Form 1-140 first and, upon approval, file the I-485 Adjustment of Status Application afterwards. 
  • WAIT. Once you have filed, USCIS will process your application and you will receive notice if your application was accepted or not. You will also be given notice of any priority dates or notices to appear. 

Important: Please note that USCIS processing times can change frequently. To stay up-to-date on processing times, please refer to the USCIS website. 

EB-1A Visa Fees and Costs

USCIS and DOS filing fees for the EB-1A visa are as follows:

For applicants filing within the United States:

  • I-140 Petition: $700
  • I-485 Green Card Application ($1,140) + Biometrics Fee ($85) = $1,225

For applicants filing from outside the United States:

Important: Fees are subject to change by the U.S. government prior to case filing. Learn more here to see up-to-date USCIS fees.

Challenges of applying for an EB-1A Visa

While the EB-1B visa offers a unique pathway to permanent residency for the academically inclined, the application process can be highly competitive and complex. Here are some challenges applicants may face, along with tips to enhance their chances of success:

  • Strict criteria: meeting the extraordinary ability criteria can be challenging, especially in a country where there are already many talented and successful individuals. 
  • Lots of supporting documentation involved: it is important to provide solid evidence that establishes your exceptional achievements and contributions.
  • Legal assistance is likely to be required: because the application process for an EB-1A visa is complex and comprehensive, seeking guidance from an experienced immigration attorney may be essential and can significantly increase your chances of success.

EB-1A Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an EB-1A visa and EB-1B visa?

The biggest difference between these two visas is that one can self-petition for an EB-1A visa, but for an EB-1B Visa, the prospective employer must petition on behalf of the individual. An EB-1B applicant must have at least three years of experience in the field they have specified in their application-this requirement does not apply to EB-1A Visa applicants.

How long does it take to get an EB-1A visa?

While there is no guaranteed time frame because processing time can depend on the USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over the application, the rough estimate ranges between 4 to 8 months. There is an option to expedite the process by filing a Request for Premium Processing Service (I-907) and paying the additional $2,500 filing fee. 

How hard is it to get an EB-1A visa?

As stated above, an EB-1A visa requires exceptional talents and abilities. As a result, this visa is one of the most difficult pathways to a green card.

What is the approval rate of an EB-1A visa?

While these numbers change year-to-year, statistics provided by the USCIS for the Fiscal Year of 2022 display that over 66% of EB-1A visa applicants were approved, with the remaining applicants either denied or pending an outcome.

What is the age limit for an EB-1A visa?

There is no age limit to apply for an EB-1A visa.

Wrapping Up

The EB-1A visa provides a unique and highly coveted pathway to permanent residency in the United States for individuals with extraordinary abilities. By bypassing the PERM labor certification process and not requiring employer sponsorship, it offers unparalleled flexibility and faster processing times. However, the stringent eligibility criteria and extensive documentation required underscore the importance of demonstrating significant achievements and contributions in one's field. Despite the challenges, the rewards of obtaining an EB-1A visa, including the freedom to live and work indefinitely in the U.S., make it an invaluable opportunity for those who qualify. The EB-1A visa stands as a testament to the United States' commitment to attracting and retaining top global talent, ultimately enriching the nation's cultural and professional landscape.