The EB1-A Green Card is designed for individuals of extraordinary abilities in the fields of sport, science, arts, technology, business. With regards to arts, this type of green card applies to any kind of artists, such as actors, singers, directors, writers, painters, dancers, stylists, designers and the like.
Extraordinary achievements – Self Petition
Depending on your level of achievement and recognition, if you meet the extraordinary ability criteria, you might be able to “self-petition” for a Green Card to become a Permanent Resident of the United States. This means that, when filing for the Green Card you will not need a sponsor nor will you be required to demonstrate a job offer from a U.S. employer, as opposed to other types of green cards or nonimmigrant visas (EB2, O-1 etc).
Requirements & Criteria
To be eligible for a EB1-A Green Card you must be at the very top of your field, and other experts in your industry recognize you as such for your artistic achievements.
The U.S. immigration law requires you to prove your professional standing, either through one major, international award, or a combination of other significant achievements. Examples of a major international award might be a Grammy for music, or an Academy Award for motion picture.
If you did not obtain one of those major awards, you will need to show you possess at least three of the following criteria:
- You have won other national or international awards for excellence in your field
- You are part of associations that required outstanding achievement of their members
- You and your work have been published in major media (newspapers, magazines, websites)
- You served as a judge of the work of others in your field
- You have created original contributions of major significance in your field
- You have authored articles in professional or other major media
- Your work has been displayed at exhibits or showcases
- You have played leading or critical roles in distinguished organizations
- You have commanded high salary or pay for the work in your field
- You have obtained commercial success in performing arts (for example, box office record, or record sales).
You must meet at least three of the above requirements. Ultimately you need to persuade the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that, overall, your achievements place you at the very top of your artistic field.
How to prove the EB1-A Green Card requirements
Everything you state requires to be backed up by evidence, confirmation and authority. It is not sufficient to simply state that you possess a requirement, you will also need to provide tangible evidence of your assertions.
For instance, if you state that your work has been featured in a magazine or a website, you will need to provide USCIS with actual photos or pdf files of such articles or web pages. But not only: you will also be required to prove the authority of the media that has published the article, and you can do that by providing traffic analysis of the website or readership reports of the magazine. An article published by a low traffic website will most certainly not qualify for this criterion.
If you state you have played a critical role for an organization of distinguished reputation (for example an actor playing a role in a movie) you will need to provide evidence that you have been actually played that role (for instance, a contract, credits etc) and also that the movie was a distinguished organization. To prove this, you may provide evidence that the movie received awards or it was featured in major publications or it received outstanding reviews from the public and critics.
Collect support letters from other experts
Although not included in the list of applicable EB1-A criteria, testimonial letters from other experts in the field are a fundamental part of the application. In other words, you need to provide letters – as many as possible – from other people that have reached international acclaim in your same field, recognizing you as a major authority in your field.
Letters should always have the same structure. First, an introduction of the writer explaining why he or she is considered an expert in the field. The authority of the writers should be always backed up by evidence, such as publications, awards and other proofs in order to establish authority.
The second part of the letter should state under which circumstances the expert has become acquainted with you. In the third and final part the expert should praise you and your work in the related field and ultimately explain why you should be regarded as the best or one of the best in your profession.
Evidence that you will continue to work in your field of endeavor once in the U.S.
It is not enough to prove you are at the top of your profession, but you will also need to prove that you will continue to work in the U.S. in your field of excellence. This can be done by submitting job offers or, even better, letters from prospective employers or business partners stating their intention to hire you in the future.
How to apply for EB1-A Green Card
In order to apply for EB1-A green card you should file form I-140 in self petition (meaning you don’t need a sponsor employer). You will be the petitioner and the applicant at the same time.
What comes next depends on where you find yourself at the time of the filing. If you are in the U.S. in lawful immigration status (basically you have a valid unexpired nonimmigrant visa – ESTA not being sufficient) you may file for adjustment of status remaining in the U.S while the application is pending. In this case, the petition (I-140) and the adjustment of status may be filed concurrently or at different times. Once I-140 is approved, then you will have to wait also for the adjustment of status to be approved. At that point you will get your Green Card.
If you are outside the U.S., after the approval of the I-140, the process will continue through the U.S. consulate in your country. Ultimately you will have to show up at the interview appointment and get approved for the Green Card.
Your spouse and underage children may join you in your petition and / or adjustment of status application. Once you obtain the green card, at the same time they will also obtain the green card.
The I-140 petition, but not the adjustment of status, may be eligible for premium processing. If you choose premium processing, by paying an extra $2,500 in filing fees you will obtain a decision on your petition in 15 days from the filing. The approval of the I-140 petition means that the USCIS found that you have extraordinary abilities in your field. However, to receive the actual green card, you will have to wait for the consular interview or the adjudication of the adjustment of status.
EB1-A petitions are dense with technicalities, do not try that on your own. Contact our attorneys today for a free evaluation of your EB1-A green card case.