Take a test to assess your chances

What Is an EB-1A Visa: A Simple Guide

Are you a startup founder, entrepreneur, or software engineer looking for a way to further your career and stay in the US?

An EB-1A visa may be the perfect solution. This visa allows those who possess extraordinary talent to remain in the US permanently without the hassle of complicated paperwork and lengthy wait times.

In this blog post we will break down what an EB-1A visa is so that you can determine if it is right for you. By understanding its requirements, advantages, and possible pitfalls of having an EB-1A visa, you will be able to make an informed decision about whether or not it is suitable for your needs.

What Is an EB-1A Visa?

The EB-1A visa, also known as the employment-based, first-preference visa for individuals with extraordinary ability, is an immigrant visa that allows individuals with exceptional talent to live and work in the United States.

This visa is intended for those who have demonstrated extraordinary ability in their field, whether it be sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

Unlike other visa categories, the EB-1A is not tied to a job offer from a US employer. It is designed for self-petitioners who can prove their worth through a variety of evidentiary criteria.

The EB-1A visa is highly sought after since it provides a direct path to permanent residency and eventually citizenship. It is no wonder that this visa has become a vital option for qualified immigrants looking to make their mark in America.

What Are the Advantages of an EB-1A Visa?

For highly skilled individuals looking to work in the United States, the EB-1A Visa provides a number of benefits.

One major advantage is priority processing, which means that applicants can skip the usual wait times for visas and begin working in the US much faster.

Additionally, the EB-1A Visa offers great work flexibility and allows individuals to work for multiple employers, freelance, or even start their own businesses.

Moreover, if an individual qualifies and meets the requirements, the EB-1A Visa leads to obtaining a green card.

These benefits make the EB-1A Visa an attractive option for those seeking to work and live in the United States.

Who Qualifies for an EB-1A Visa?

An EB-1A visa is a great opportunity for individuals who possess extraordinary abilities and accomplishments to obtain permanent residency in the United States.

To be eligible for this visa, an applicant must meet at least three of the following criteria:

How Much Does an EB-1A Visa Cost?

The EB-1A Visa comes with a variety of costs that are important to consider. The core cost to be aware of is the Form I-140 filing fee, which stands at $700. This fee is typically paid by the employer sponsoring you.

In addition to this, premium processing is available for an additional $2,500, which can expedite the processing of your application. There’s also an $85 fingerprinting fee and a USCIS Immigrant Fee of $220.

Please note that these costs are accurate at the time of this writing, and are subject to change. It’s always wise to consult with an immigration attorney or expert to fully understand the costs associated with the EB-1A Visa process.

Additionally, it is common for individuals to work with an immigration attorney when going through the EB-1A visa process. Attorney fees can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case and the experience of the lawyer.

However, it is important to find a reputable attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that your application is submitted correctly and in a timely manner.

Overall, obtaining an EB-1A visa can be a costly endeavor, but the benefits of being able to work and live in the United States can be well worth the investment.

How Long Does It Take to Get an EB-1A Visa?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question, as the processing time can vary widely depending on a number of factors.

Some of the key factors that can affect the timeline include the current workload of USCIS, the complexity of your case, and whether additional evidence is requested.

In general, however, you can expect the process to take several months from start to finish. To ensure the fastest possible timeline, it’s important to work with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the process and help you avoid common pitfalls that could cause delays.

How Long Is an EB-1A Visa Valid?

An EB-1A Visa is typically valid for a period of ten years. During this time, you’ll be able to live and work in the U.S. without worrying about the status of your visa.

And if you need more time, you’ll be pleased to know that these visas are also eligible for extensions. Overall, an EB-1A Visa is an excellent option for those looking to establish themselves long-term in the United States.

Who Can Sponsor an EB-1A Visa?

While many may think that sponsorship is compulsory in order to apply for an EB-1A Visa, this is not necessarily true. In fact, an EB-1A Visa can be self-petitioned, which means that the individual seeking the visa can sponsor themselves.

Additionally, individuals or entities such as employers, and agents can act as sponsors for those seeking this visa. With various options available, individuals considering an EB-1A Visa have the freedom to choose the most suitable sponsor for them.

What Is the Difference Between an EB-1A and an EB-1B?

The main difference lies in the qualifications required for each category. The EB-1A category is reserved for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. This means that the applicant must demonstrate a high level of expertise in their field, and their achievements must be recognized on a national or international level.

On the other hand, the EB-1B category is for outstanding professors and researchers who have a minimum of three years of experience in teaching or research. They must also have a job offer from a U.S. employer and show that their work will benefit the United States. These categories may seem similar at first glance, but the criteria and qualifications are significantly different.

EB-1A Visa FAQs

Can an H-1B holder Apply for an EB-1A Visa?

The answer is not straightforward, as the requirements differ between the two types of visas. While an H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa, an EB-1A visa is an immigrant visa that allows individuals to get a green card.

However, the good news is that H-1B visa holders can apply for an EB-1A visa if they meet certain requirements. Specifically, they must demonstrate extraordinary ability in their profession, which can be evidenced by receiving a major internationally recognized award, publication of material in professional journals, or other relevant criteria.

So while it isn’t an easy process, an H-1B visa holder with exceptional skills and a proven track record in their field can absolutely have a shot at getting an EB-1A visa and ultimately a green card.

Does a PhD Qualify for an EB-1A?

While a PhD can certainly strengthen an applicant’s case for an EB-1A Visa, it is not a guarantee of approval.

The EB-1A Visa requires evidence of extraordinary ability in a specific field, and a PhD alone may not be enough to prove that level of exceptional talent.

It is essential to provide evidence of additional accomplishments and recognition within one’s field to bolster the EB-1A application.

Can I Get an EB-1A Visa Without a Degree?

While a degree can certainly contribute to an individual’s credibility, it is not a requirement for an EB-1A visa.

What matters most is the applicant’s evidence of sustained national or international acclaim, and a level of expertise indicating that they are at the very top of their field.

The ability to provide extensive documentation that supports the applicant’s claims of extraordinary ability is crucial for the successful acquisition of an EB-1A visa. So, if you have exceptional skills and achievements in your field, a formal degree may not be necessary to obtain this highly sought-after visa.

What Is a High Salary for an EB-1A?

While there is no set salary requirement for an EB-1A application, the salary the applicant is offered can provide important evidence of their status as an accomplished individual in their field.

Employers will often be required to provide a letter of support that attests to the applicant’s qualifications, including their salary expectations. While salary alone is not sufficient to qualify for an EB-1A, a high salary can be an important piece of evidence in a strong application.

Does an EB-1A Lead to a Green Card?

Yes, an EB-1A leads to a green card. The EB-1A is a type of visa under the EB-1 category, which is the first preference employment-based immigrant visa.

If an applicant meets all the criteria and is approved, they are awarded a Green Card. This means they become permanent residents of the United States.

What Is the Difference Between an O-1A and an EB-1A Visa?

The main difference between an O1A visa and an EB-1A visa lies in their purpose, duration, and nature of stay in the United States.

O1A Visa: The O1A visa is a non-immigrant visa for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. It’s intended for temporary work in the U.S., and the individual must have an agent or sponsor offering them work in the U.S.

EB-1A Visa: On the other hand, the EB-1A visa is an immigrant visa for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the same fields. Unlike the O1A visa, the EB-1A is meant for those who wish to live and work in the U.S permanently. Also, an EB-1A holder doesn’t need a job offer or a sponsor to apply.

In summary, while both visas cater to individuals with extraordinary abilities, the O1A visa is for temporary work and requires a job offer or sponsor, whereas the EB-1A visa provides a path to permanent residency and doesn’t require a job offer or sponsor.

What Happens If an EB-1A Visa Is Rejected?

If an EB-1A visa application is rejected, there are several options available for the applicant:

Hire an immigration attorney: The first recommended step is to hire an immigration attorney, who can help understand the reasons behind the denial and guide on how to proceed.

Appeal the decision: You may choose to appeal the decision if you believe your case is strong. This process allows you to challenge USCIS’s decision and present new evidence or arguments.

Reapply with new evidence or strategy: If your EB-1A was denied, reapplying with new evidence or a different case presentation strategy might give you a better chance of approval.

Correct errors in the application: The rejection could also be due to a mistake made during the processing of the application. In such cases, correcting the error and reapplying could lead to approval.

It’s important to note that while some EB-1A applications are approved, past success does not necessarily guarantee future outcomes. Every case is unique.


In conclusion, the EB-1A Visa presents a unique opportunity for individuals with exceptional abilities to establish themselves in the United States. Its advantages, including priority processing and potential green card eligibility, make it an appealing choice for those seeking to further their careers and contributions.

Eligibility hinges on exceptional achievements, not necessarily formal degrees, while sponsors can include various entities. Distinguishing it from the EB-1B Visa, the EB-1A caters to individuals with proven expertise. With FAQs addressing common queries about qualifications, salary, and rejection, this visa category offers a clear path for outstanding talents to make their mark and thrive in the U.S.

If you’re curious about whether you meet the eligibility criteria for the EB-1A visa, take our eligibility test today.