EB-1 Visa for Outstanding Professionals: Types, Eligibility Criteria, Forms, Application Process, and More

The U.S. immigration system allows foreign nationals to become permanent residents through employment as long as the aliens are skilled and talented. These visas are known as “employment-based preference immigrant” visas. They come in different categories, depending on your experience and qualifications. This guide focuses on the EB-1 visa, the fast track to a Green Card for those at the top of their field.

However, there are other options to explore:

  • The EB-2 visa caters to professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in their field. If this employment-based visa is up your alley, learn more about the EB-2 NIW visa application, too, as it might be even more helpful!
  • The EB-3 visa application is open to skilled workers, professionals, and other workers with a permanent job offer.
  • The EB-4 visa is for specific occupations like religious workers.
  • The EB-5 visa is an option for immigrant investors who bring significant capital to the U.S. economy.

Let’s discuss the EB1 visa, eligibility criteria, USCIS required documentation and evidence, application process and timeline, and more!

What Is EB1 Visa?

The EB1 is the top tier of employment-based visas for foreign nationals seeking permanent residency (in the United States. It’s considered explicitly for individuals who have achieved remarkable success in their fields.

The EB1 visa offers significant advantages compared to other employment-based visas. It boasts a much faster processing time, often significantly shorter than other immigrant visa categories, which can take years. Additionally, unlike most other employment-based visas, the EB-1 program bypasses the requirement for a PERM labor certification from the Department of Labor, streamlining the application process.

Once granted an EB1 Green Card, you’ll enjoy what U.S. permanent residency offers. You can freely live and work anywhere in the country, pursue further education, own property, and even sponsor family members for Green Cards. After meeting the residency requirements, you can also apply for U.S. citizenship.

EB1 Visa Types

The EB-1 visa program offers a coveted fast track to permanent residency for foreign nationals with exceptional achievements in their fields. However, within the EB-1 category are three distinct subcategories, each with its own eligibility criteria and application process. Let’s discuss each subcategory to understand the specific requirements:

1. EB-1A Visa: Extraordinary Ability

The EB1 A visa subcategory addresses individuals who can prove sustained national or international acclaim in arts, education, science, athletics, business, and more. Think Nobel Prize winners, Olympic medalists, or groundbreaking business leaders. Unlike the other two subcategories, the EB-1A allows for self-petitioning. This means you can initiate the application process on your own behalf without requiring a sponsoring employer. There’s also no need for a PERM labor certification.

2. EB-1B Visa: Outstanding Professors and Researchers

The EB1 B subcategory visa is dedicated to prominent academics with international recognition for their outstanding achievements in research or academia. Most EB-1 B beneficiaries include renowned professors with tenured or tenure-track positions at prestigious institutions conducting groundbreaking research.

Unlike the EB-1A, the EB1 B visa requires sponsorship from a prospective U.S. employer, typically a university, research institution, or other academic organization. This employer must file an I-140 petition on your behalf, demonstrating your outstanding qualifications and the value you’ll bring to their institution. Additionally, you must have at least three years of experience in teaching or research in your field and be entering the U.S. to pursue a tenure-track or comparable position.

3. EB-1C Visa: Multinational Managers and Executives

The EB1 C visa subcategory welcomes only CEOs and managers who play a vital role in multinational companies with branches in the U.S. and abroad. To qualify, you must have held a managerial or executive position with the same multinational company for at least one year in the past three years. This can be either for a foreign or U.S. branch of the company.

Like the EB-1B, the EB-1C visa requires sponsorship from your current employer. Your employer must intend to hire you in a managerial or executive capacity within their U.S. branch and will file an I-140 petition on your behalf.

IMPORTANT! Don’t mistake the non-immigrant L-1 visa for the immigrant EB1 C visa category! The L-1 visa allows temporary work in the U.S., while the EB-1C visa paves your way toward permanent residency. Since the EB-1C offers the significant advantage of eventually getting a Green Card, the application process involves stricter scrutiny than the L-1 visa!

EB1 Visa Requirements: Who Can Apply for an Employment-Based First Preference Visa?

Are you dreaming of permanent residency in the U.S. and bringing your extraordinary talents to the table? The EB-1 visa program might be the perfect fit for you.

To qualify for an EB1 Green Card, you’ll need to demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim in your area of expertise, whether it’s science, arts, education, athletics, research, teaching, or business.

But how do you know if you qualify for one of the EB1 visa types? Let’s break down the eligibility criteria for each of the three EB-1 subcategories:

Eligibility Criteria for EB-1 A Visas: Demonstrating Extraordinary Ability

If you’re a leading figure in the arts, sciences, education, athletics, or business, the EB-1A category could be your path to a Green Card, especially if you prove extensive and internationally recognized achievements. 

The following criteria serve as USCIS’s benchmark for assessing extraordinary ability. You must provide convincing evidence that meets at least 3 of the following requirements presented in the table below:

EB1 A Qualifying Criteria

Major awards or recognition

Membership in elite associations

Published material and media recognition

Peer review and recognition

Significant contributions to your field

Authorship of scholarly works

Leadership roles in prestigious organizations

High salary and compensation

Commercial success in performing arts

Published material about your work

Exceptional single achievement


Receipt of prestigious awards (Nobel Prize, Olympic medal, etc.)

Membership in organizations requiring outstanding achievements

Featured work in scholarly publications, journals, or prominent media

Invited to judge the work of others (individually or on panels)

Groundbreaking research, innovative business practices, exceptional artistic/athletic achievements

Authored books or articles in internationally recognized journals

Holding prominent leadership positions

Salary significantly higher than peers in your field

Achieving significant commercial success (performing arts)

Work reviewed and discussed in publications by others in your field.

Evidence of a truly extraordinary accomplishment (may substitute meeting three criteria)

Eligibility Criteria for Outstanding Professors and Researchers (EB-1B)

Have you made significant contributions to your research or academia and garnered international recognition for your achievements? If so, the EB-1B subcategory might be your gateway to permanent residency.

Like the EB-1A category, USCIS uses these criteria to assess your international recognition for outstanding achievements. You’ll need to provide convincing evidence that meets at least 2 of the following requirements as specified in the table below:

EB1 B Qualifying Criteria

Major awards or recognition

Membership in elite associations

Published material and media recognition

Peer review and recognition

Authorship of scholarly works

Published material about your work

Minimum experience

Job offer

Employer requirements (private)


Receipt of prestigious awards (Nobel Prize, etc.)

Membership in organizations requiring outstanding achievements

Featured work in scholarly publications, journals, or prominent media

Invited to judge the work of others (individually or on panels)

Authored books or articles in internationally recognized journals

Work reviewed and discussed in publications by others in your field.

At least three years of experience in teaching or research

Permanent job offer (tenure-track preferred) from a qualified U.S. employer

Documented accomplishments in research and employing at least three full-time researchers (for private employers)

IMPORTANT! While meeting at least 2 of the criteria above is the standard, providing exceptional extra evidence can reinforce your USCIS application.

Eligibility Criteria for Multinational Managers and Executives (EB-1C)

The EB-1C subcategory addresses key players in multinational companies with branches in the U.S. and abroad. Here’s a breakdown of the critical employment requirements and what your job offer in the US should entail:

Working Abroad as a Manager or Executive

  • You must have held a managerial or executive position with a multinational company for at least one year within the past three years.
  • This company must have a branch or subsidiary located in the United States.

Function Manager (Optional)

This EB 1 C eligibility criterion applies to individuals who manage a critical function within the company, even if they don’t have a large team to supervise directly. Here’s what USCIS looks for in a Function Manager role:

  • You’ll primarily oversee and manage an essential function crucial to the organization’s success.
  • You’ll hold a senior position within the organizational hierarchy related to your management function.
  • You’ll have the authority to make independent decisions about the day-to-day operations of your function.

Executive Capacity (Optional)

The EB-1C category also recognizes individuals in high-level executive positions within multinational companies. Here’s what defines an Executive Capacity role:

  • You’ll primarily be responsible for managing the entire organization or a significant component or function.
  • You’ll establish the goals and policies that guide the organization, component or function you oversee.
  • You’ll have the authority to make significant decisions with limited oversight from higher-level executives or the board.

IMPORTANT! First-line supervisors overseeing non-professional employees typically wouldn’t qualify under the EB-1C category. The focus is on managerial roles with broader responsibilities. Moreover, the number of people you directly supervise isn’t the only factor. USCIS will carefully evaluate your overall role and function within the organization.

Job Offer from the U.S. Branch

  • You’ll need a valid job offer from the U.S. branch of the same multinational company you worked for abroad.
  • The EB-1C petitioning company (your U.S. employer) must demonstrate that you won’t be spending most of your time performing the tasks associated with the essential function yourself. Your primary focus should be on managing it effectively.
  • This position should involve duties that demonstrate your leadership and decision-making skills, such as: 
    • Overseeing a department, team, or specific function within the organization.
    • Supervising and guiding the work of other professional, managerial, or supervisory employees.
    • Having the authority to hire, fire, or recommend personnel actions for employees you directly manage.
    • Make independent decisions regarding the day-to-day operations of the function or activity you’re responsible for.

Qualifying Relationship Between Employers

  • The U.S. branch (your potential employer) must have a documented and established business relationship with the company you worked for outside the U.S. for you to be eligible for an EB1 C visa.

If it seems a bit too complicated to check the eligibility criteria USCIS imposes for EB1 C visa applicants, let’s see the table below:

EB-1C Qualifying Criteria

Foreign employment (past three years)

U.S. job offer

Qualifying relationship

Managerial capacity

Function manager (if applicable)

Executive capacity (if applicable)


Managerial/Executive position for at least one year in a multinational company with a US branch

Managerial/Executive position from the US branch of the same multinational company

Documented relationship between US employer and your foreign employer

Meets criteria for managerial duties, supervision, personnel authority, and operational discretion

Manages an essential function, holds a senior position, and has discretionary authority

Directs management, sets goals, makes discretionary decisions, and receives limited supervision

The EB-1 Visa Application Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

The EB-1 visa petitioners are foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities, outstanding academics, researchers, or multinational executives. If you seek this type of employment-based visa and subsequent Green Card, obtaining it involves a series of steps. While the procedure can differ slightly, depending on the specific EB-1 subcategory you’re applying under, the basics are the same. Here’s an overview of the general EB1 application process!

Step 1: Petition by Employer (For EB-1B and EB-1C Visa Applicants)

If you’re applying for an EB-1B (outstanding professor/researcher) or EB-1C (multinational manager/executive) visa, your journey starts with your US employer filing a petition on your behalf with USCIS. This petition is done using Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

These are the USCIS requirements your employer needs to meet:

  • Demonstrate a legitimate business relationship with your previous employer abroad (for EB-1C).
  • Show financial stability by providing documents like annual reports, tax returns, or audited financial statements.
  • Prove they advertised the position in the U.S. and couldn’t find a qualified U.S. worker (for EB-1C).
  • Most importantly, they must show they have the financial resources to continuously pay your offered salary throughout the visa process (for all EB-1 subcategories).

IMPORTANT! If you’re applying under the EB-1A category (extraordinary ability), you, as the EB1 A visa seeker, can file your petition with USCIS using Form I-140. You don’t need a U.S. employer to sponsor you in this case!

Step 2: Petition Approval and National Visa Center (NVC)

Once USCIS approves your employer’s petition, your case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will assign you a case number and send you a package with instructions on proceeding with your application from your home country.

IMPORTANT! There’s a limit on the number of EB-1 visas issued each year. The NVC will only send you the application package when your “priority date” (based on your petition filing date) becomes current, meaning it’s your turn in line for visa processing.

Step 3: Complete Form DS-260 Visa Application by Foreign Worker (all EB-1 categories)

Once you receive the NVC package, your EB-1 visa application process is moving forward. This package will contain detailed instructions on what documents you need to submit and the next steps you should take.

The DS-260 online form, officially titled “Immigrant Visa Electronic Application,” is your formal EB-1 visa application. It captures a wide range of biographical information about you, your family, your education and work experience, and your travel history. When submitting form DS-260, you will likely have to attach some required evidence and documents:

  • Passport copy (valid for at least six months beyond your intended U.S. entry date),
  • Employment offer letter (if applicable),
  • Proof that you meet the EB-1 category requirements (see the table below)
  • Other documentation requested by the NVC.

EB-1 Category: Proof of Eligibility Required Documents

EB-1 Category

EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability)

EB-1B (Outstanding Professor/Researcher)

EB-1C (Multinational Manager/Executive)

Evidence/Document Examples

* Diplomas, transcripts, or certificates demonstrating your educational background in the field
* Evidence of national or international awards you've received (e.g., medals, prizes)
* Publications in prestigious journals or publications
* Documentation of membership in exclusive professional associations
* Letters of recommendation from prominent figures in your field

* Documentation of your research grants
* Publications in top academic journals
* Peer evaluations recognizing your significant contributions to your field
* Invitations to present your research at international conferences
* Evidence of your role as a reviewer for prestigious journals or funding agencies

* Organizational charts demonstrating your managerial hierarchy within the multinational company
* Documentation of your decision-making authority (e.g., minutes of meetings, reports)
* Proof of budgetary control
* Performance reviews highlighting your achievements in leading and growing the company's operations

Step 4: The EB 1 Visa Petitioner Goes Through Medical Examination and Vaccination

The NVC package will specify a list of authorized medical facilities for the immigration medical exam. This exam ensures you don’t have any contagious diseases that could pose a public health risk in the U.S. You’ll also need to complete any vaccinations required by US immigration regulations. After completing the medical exam, you’ll receive a sealed medical report from the designated doctor. This report will be submitted to the NVC as part of your application package.

Step 5: The EB 1 Petitioner Goes to the Visa Interview

Once the NVC approves your Form DS-260 and supporting documents, they’ll schedule a visa interview at your home country’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This is your chance to showcase your qualifications and convince the interviewer that you deserve the EB-1 visa. As with any visa interview, you’ll answer questions about your background, experience, and why you’re a valuable asset to the U.S.

Step 6: EB1 Visa Approval and Entry (if successful)

If your visa interview is successful, you’ll receive your EB-1 visa in your passport. However, there’s one final step. You’ll be issued a sealed package from the NVC that you must bring when you travel to the U.S. Upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry (airport), an immigration officer will review the package and determine whether you’re officially admitted into the United States.

Step 7: EB1 Green Card Application

If you’ve received an EB-1 visa and currently reside in the United States, you can apply to adjust your immigration status and get a green card. 

Your first step is filing Form I-485, the core application for your EB-1 employment green card. Remember to be physically present in the U.S. when you file Form I-485 and throughout the submission process.

IMPORTANT! Even if you’ve changed jobs since receiving your EB-1 visa, you can still leverage your approved Form I-140 petition for your Green Card application, as long as your new position aligns with the original occupational field and your Green Card application based on the initial petition has been pending for at least 180 days. However, if your EB-1 visa stemmed from employment with a specific company, the job offered in the original Form I-140 must still be available, and you must intend to take it upon Green Card approval.

EB1 Visas Processing Time and Timeline

The first hurdle in the EB-1 visa processing timeline is Form I-140, which your employer files on your behalf. Processing times for this can vary depending on the specific EB-1 category you’re applying under (EB-1A, EB-1B, or EB-1C) and the workload at the USCIS office handling your employer’s application. 

Expect to wait between 4 and 20 months for a decision on Form I-140.

If you’re outside the U.S., your case will be transferred to the NVC after I-140 approval. The NVC will then forward your application to the US embassy or consulate closest to your residence. They’ll contact you to schedule an in-person interview, and the waiting time for this appointment can vary depending on your location.

EB-1 Visa Costs

There’s a $715 charge for your employer to file Form I-140, which covers the government’s processing costs.

Your employer could also consider premium processing if they want an expedited processing of I-140. By paying an extra $2,805 for EB-1 petitions, USCIS will give you an answer in 15 calendar days. To request this service, you’ll need to file Form I-907.

This means you’ll receive a USCIS Notice of Action (approval, denial, a letter explaining why they might deny your request, a request for additional evidence, or an investigation initiation for fraud or misrepresentation). 

Obtaining your EB-1 visa also involves a few government fees for you, the EB1 visa applicant.

  • There’s a $325 online processing fee for Form DS-260, the main EB-1 visa application you’ll submit electronically.
  • Additionally, there’s a separate $120 fee to process the affidavit of support, a document that verifies your financial backing. That brings the total fees to $445.

Remember that you won’t be able to access Form DS-260 until the NVC has confirmed that they’ve received and processed your fee payments.

Add to these costs the price of the medical examinations, vaccinations, translations, biometrics fees (if applicable), and other costs associated with the EB 1 application, including legal counseling or specialized immigration consultations

Lastly, if you’re already in the U.S. and aiming for a Green Card through your EB-1 visa, you must submit Form I-485 and pay a $1,440 government fee when filing the petition.

EB1 Visa Guide Frequently Asked Questions

If you need extra clarification on petitioning for an EB1 visa, here are some past answers we have provided to our clients!

What are the advantages of applying for an EB-1 visa?

The EB-1 visa offers several significant benefits compared to other employment-based Green Card options. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • The EB-1 category is generally considered the fastest route to obtaining permanent residency in the U.S. This is because it typically bypasses the labor certification process, which can add significant time to other Green Card applications.
  • Once your EB-1 visa is approved, you can work freely throughout the United States. 
  • EB-1 allows you to travel outside the U.S. without jeopardizing your Green Card application if you maintain your residency ties.
  • As an EB-1 visa holder, you can petition for Green Cards for your family members (spouse or minor children). This allows your family to live and work in the U.S. legally alongside you.

Absolutely! As mentioned in the answer above, the EB-1 visa allows you to petition for derivative visas for your spouse and any unmarried children under 21. This means your family can immigrate to the U.S. and enjoy the benefits of permanent residency alongside you. They will receive their own visa classifications, typically E-14 for your spouse and E-15 for your children.

In some cases, you may be able to change employers or positions while keeping your EB-1 visa status. This typically involves demonstrating that the new opportunity falls within the same or a similar occupational field as your original EB-1 petition.

However, if you’ve been waiting for your Green Card application (based on your EB-1 visa) for at least 180 days, you might be eligible for “portability” rules. This allows you to pursue a new job offer if it’s comparable to your original EB-1 position.

Do You Need EB 1 Visa Assistance? Our Experts Are Here to Help!

The EB-1 visa process can seem daunting because of USCIS requirements, but you don’t have to go alone. Our experienced immigration specialists and lawyers at ImmigrationDirect are here to guide you every step of the way. We can help you navigate the EB-1 visa eligibility criteria, ensure you gather all the necessary documentation, and strengthen your application with compelling evidence that showcases your extraordinary abilities or achievements. Our team can advise you on processing timelines and potential challenges, giving you peace of mind throughout the journey. Contact us today for a consultation, and let’s unlock your path to permanent residency in the US via first-preference employment-based immigration!

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