US EB-1 Visa: Employment Sponsored Visas

EB-1 visa is for outstanding professors, researchers, people with extraordinary abilities in arts, science, business, athletics, or education, executive managers

EB-1 Visa

Besides family and immediate relative immigration visas, the U.S also gives visas to people who qualify to work in the country. These Employment Sponsored Visas allow foreign workers who have found an employer willing to hire them to come to the U.S permanently and work without an Employment Authorization Document. The employment visas are denoted with the letter E and are of 5 types:

  • EB1 Visa or First Priority Workers Visa is for outstanding professors, researchers, people with extraordinary abilities in arts, science, business, athletics, or education, as well as executive managers who have worked at a foreign branch of a U.S company for the past 3 years
  • EB-2 Visa or Second Priority Workers Visa is for professionals with advanced degrees and people with extraordinary abilities in arts, sciences, or business.
  • EB-3 Visa or Third Priority Workers Visa is for skilled workers with more than 2 years of experience, professionals with a higher education degree, or unskilled workers with less than 2 years of experience (EW-3 Visa).
  • EB-4 Visa or Fourth Priority Workers Visa is for various religious, government, or international organizations workers
  • EB-5 Visa or Fifth Priority Workers Visa is for investors in the U.S who will invest between $500K to $1 million in the U.S economy

The Employment Sponsored Visas are subject to a cap of 140,000 visas per year. They are allocated between the five visas, which creates long wait times for processing. Once the limit of the visas is reached in a year, the rest of the applications wait for their turn in the coming years. That is why those who are applying for any employment-based visa need to wait for their priority dates to become current in order to qualify for immigration in the U.S.

This article will go through the EB1 visa, what it is, its requirements, application procedures, and other relevant details.

What is the EB1 visa?

The EB1 visa is the first category in the employment based immigration visas. This visa gives the opportunity to people who have great academic or work achievements to immigrate to the U.S permanently. The person who can prove that they have these achievements is then allowed to live and work in the U.S. They can obtain U.S documents such as a driver’s license, own property, continue their education, as well as get married and have children. After a certain point that they have held the EB1 visa without any problems, they can also apply for U.S citizenship.

Based on the various achievements that people can have, the U.S government has divided the EB1 visa into three sub-categories:

  • People with extraordinary abilities in arts, science, education, athletics, and business. The achievements of these people must be extensive and/or internationally recognized and they do not need an employment offer to apply for the EB1 visa.
  • Outstanding professors and researchers who have received international recognition for their contributions in their fields. The professors and researchers must have at least 3 years of experience in research or teaching and they must prove that they are coming to the U.S to continue advancing their field in a research or teaching position in a university.
  • Multinational managers or executives who have been working for an international branch of a U.S company for at least 1 year in the past 3 years. They must be applying for the EB1 visa to continue working for that company and their position in the U.S must match or be higher than the one they had in the foreign country.

What are the EB1 Requirements?

Based on the three sub-categories of the EB1 visa, there are various requirements that applicants must meet. In order to qualify for the Extraordinary Ability category, you must prove that you meet at least 3 of the criteria below or have a significant achievement such as an Oscar, Pulitzer, or Olympic Medal prize.

  • Evidence that you have received a national or international price/award for their achievements and excellence
  • Evidence that you are a member of an association for their field which continuously asks for advancements from their members
  • Evidence that you have published papers or research in your field which has been recognized in journals or the media
  • Evidence that you were asked to evaluate the work of other people either as an individual or in a panel
  • Evidence that you have contributed in your field in a scholarly, scientific, artistic, athletic, or business-related in a significant way
  • Evidence that you have written articles that have been published in trade publications or major media
  • Evidence that you work was featured in exhibitions or other showcases
  • Evidence that you have performed a crucial role in a distinguished organization
  • Evidence that you have received a high salary and you are expected to be paid significantly as compared to others in your field
  • Evidence that you have received commercial success in performing arts

For the Professor or Researcher category, you must meet 2 of the criteria below and have an offer from a U.S employer.

  • Evidence that you have received awards/prizes for your achievements
  • Evidence that you are a member of an association for their field which continuously asks for advancements from their members
  • Evidence that others have written and published material about your work and achievements in your field
  • Evidence that you were asked to evaluate the work of other people either as an individual or in a panel
  • Evidence that you have made scholarly or scientific contributions in your field
  • Evidence that you have written and published articles or books international trade journals in your field

Finally, to qualify for the Multinational Manager or Executive EB1 visa, you must have a valid job offer from the company which has had a branch or subsidiary in the foreign country and you were employed or worked with them.

How to apply for the EB1 visa?

Applications for the EB1 visas have multiple steps which involve both the employer and the foreign employee. The application process is divided in two parts:

  • The U.S employer obtains labor certification and files the necessary petitions
  • If approved, the foreign employee then applies for the EB1 visa at a U.S Embassy in their home country

If you are applying on the basis of Extraordinary Abilities, then you do not need to have an employer file a petition, but you can file one for yourself. For the Professor/Researcher and Multinational Manager EB1 visas, you must have an employer file the petition for you.

Application procedures from U.S employer

Getting the labor certification

The first requirement for a U.S employer to hire a foreign employee is to get a labor certification by the U.S Department of Labor. This is done by filing Form ETA 750 to the DOL. By submitting this form, the U.S employer states that they have tried to find a U.S employee for that job position but could not and that the foreign worker will be paid a prevailing wage.

The form is processed by the DOL and the employer and employee are notified of the decision. If approved, the U.S employer can go on to the next step, but if the certification is denied, then the foreign worker is not allowed to get an EB1 visa.

Filing the petition

In addition to the labor certification, the employer must also file a petition to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is done by filing Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. The employer must also attach financial statements, audits, and tax returns to prove that the company is financially stable. For the Extraordinary Ability EB1 visa, you as the applicant can file the petition to USCIS and pay the fee.

USCIS will process the petition and will notify the employer. If approved, the case will go to the National Visa Center (NVC). If denied, the U.S employer is not allowed to hire a foreign worker.

When the case goes to the NVC, they will assign a case number and invoice ID number. These documents will be part of the package with instructions on how to apply that will be sent to the foreign employee in their home country. However, since there is a cap on the EB1 visas, the NVC will only send this package when the applicant’s priority date becomes current.

Application procedures from foreign worker

File Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application

The applicant or foreign worker must complete this form which serves as an application for the EB1 visa. The form will be processed by the U.S Embassy or Consulate that they are applying from.

Complete medical examination and vaccination

In the NVC package, there will also be requirements about medical examinations and vaccination that the applicant must conduct. The applicant must go to a licensed doctor to complete the documents and have them signed.

Compile the supporting documents file

After the NVC approves your Form DS-260, you must send the supporting documents for your case. This includes the follows:

  • Your passport which must be valid for more than 6 months after your intended departure to the U.S
  • Your employment offer from the U.S employer
  • The approved labor certification
  • The approved petition
  • Your DS-260 confirmation page
  • Your signed medical and vaccine documents
  • Two photographs meeting the Photo Requirements
  • Proof that you meet the criteria for the category you are applying
  • Letters from previous employers
  • Court and criminal records
  • Depending on the case, the NVC might require other supporting documents, so you must follow their instructions carefully.

Attend the visa interview

The NVC will review your application and supporting documents and if there are no more requirements, they will schedule an interview for you at the U.S Embassy you are applying from. Attend the interview and be as specific as possible in answering the questions regarding your background and other details. The interviewer will make the final decision on whether you should be given an EB1 visa or not.

Receive the NVC package and travel to the U.S

If your EB1 visa is approved, you will receive a package from the NVC. You must not open this package under any circumstances. Take it with you when you travel to the U.S and give it to an immigration officer at a U.S port of entry. Only they are allowed to open it and decide whether you should be allowed to enter the country or not.

What are the EB1 visa fees?

There are many fees which you are responsible for paying while you apply for the EB1 visa. The amounts vary and are decided by USCIS and the U.S Embassy in the country you are applying from. In general, you will have to pay the following fees:

  • USCIS Form I-140 petition filing fee
  • Form DS-260 processing fee
  • Medical examination fees
  • Fees to obtain supporting documents
  • Any translation fees from foreign language to English

How long is the EB1 visa processing time?

Since the employment based visas have a cap, the EB1 processing time can be quite long. Depending on the number of people who have applied before you and the priority dates, the processing time can be from a few months to a few years. This is all determined by when you apply and whether you are next in line from USCIS and NVC.

How to get a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status?

The next step after you have gotten your EB1 visa is to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the U.S. This is usually known as getting the Green Card. To change your status from your immigrant visa to an LPR, you must first have an approved petition from USCIS and the visa, as well as live in the U.S.

Afterwards, you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to USCIS. This form will be processed and if approved you will get your Green Card in the mail after a few weeks.