EB-1 Green Card: all you need to know

Gabriela Peratello
05.08.21
4 minute read

EB-1 Visas — also known as first preference employment based visas — are issued to a select group of people who want to live and work in the US. Once you have your EB-1 Visa, and have arrived in the country, you’ll often be able to apply quickly for an adjustment of status to permanent residence. This means you get your employment based Green Card.

Applying for an EB-1 Green Card is often quicker than via some other eligibility routes — but there are also strict criteria you’ll need to understand to get started. This guide walks through EB-1 Green Card eligibility, requirements and processing time.

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We’ll also touch on Wise and the Wise Multi-currency Account as smart, low cost ways to pay your Green Card application fees from abroad.

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Who’s eligible for an EB-1 Green Card?

EB-1 Visas are available for people who fall into the following categories¹:

  • People of extraordinary ability
  • Outstanding professors and researchers
  • Certain multinational managers or executives

If you are in the first group — people of extraordinary ability — you can self petition. This means you don’t need a job already lined up to get this visa. Other candidates will need to have a US based employer, but the process for the employer to petition for the candidate as an alien employee is abridged as no labor certification is needed.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to show you fit into these eligibility categories:

Extraordinary ability (EB1-A)

EB-1A Visas are the most difficult to get, as well as the most flexible as you can self-petition without a job offer. You’ll need to either fulfil 3 of 10 USCIS requirements, or show a one time achievement which justifies the visa offer. The examples given are winning a Pulitzer Prize, and Oscar or an Olympic medal.

If you don’t qualify under the one time achievement rule, the criteria set out to prove you’re of extraordinary ability include:

  • Being awarded nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards
  • Being written about in major media or trade media
  • Having made major contributions to your field
  • Evidence you command a higher salary than others doing the same job
  • Evidence of your commercial, artistic or scholarly work having been extraordinarily successful

Outstanding professors and researchers (EB1-B)

To apply for an EB1-B Visa you’ll need a job offer which qualifies as tenure or tenure track teaching, and 2 of the 6 criteria set out. These include:

  • Winning major prizes
  • Contributing greatly to your chosen field
  • Judging others’ work
  • Having made scholarly contribution in your discipline

Multinational manager or executive (EB1-C)

EB-1C Visa candidates are managers and executives at a multinational company. You’ll need an active job offer for this visa type, and you’ll normally need to have worked outside of the US for at least 1 of the 3 preceding years.

What’s the application process for an EB-1 Green Card?

    Getting a Green Card through the EB-1 route involves several steps:
  1. Have an employer petition for your entry to the US as an alien worker, or self petition if you fall into the extraordinary ability category, using Form I-140
  2. Once a visa is available, apply for an adjustment of status from visa holder to Green Card holder, using Form I-485² ³
  3. Await a decision from USCIS
    Most employment based visa holders are able to file their I-485 concurrently with the employer’s submission of Form I-140⁴. This means you don’t need to wait for approval to move ahead in the queue to get your Green Card.

Can you file the application if you’re outside of the US?

Moving from an EB-1 Visa to a Green Card is an adjustment of status. That’s done from within the US only, as it involves switching your status from being on a work related visa to being on a work based Green Card.

If you’re not in the US yet, but are eligible for an EB-1 Visa, you’ll need to apply for that via your local US consulate or embassy, and then apply for your Green Card once you have arrived in the US.

What’s the processing time for EB-1 Green Card?

The length of time it takes to get your EB-1 Green Card varies depending on your situation.

The first step in the process is to have your employer petition — or self petition — for entry to the US as an alien worker. Technically, once this form has been approved, workers have to wait their turn in line until a visa becomes available. This process is run through the Visa Bulletin — a system to help people waiting for Green Cards understand the likely backlog before their paperwork is processed⁵.

The good news is that, at the time of writing, the Visa bulletin lists no wait times for EB-1 workers⁶. That means you’ll be able to go right ahead and apply for your Green Card at the same time your employer’s I-140 petition is being assessed.

Processing times for the I-140 form depend on whether you select regular or premium processing⁷. Premium processing takes 15 days, and is available to EB1 and EB2 category applicants. If you don’t fall into these categories, you can check the progress of your application by entering your case number into the USCIS tracking tool, oline.

Employment based Green Card fees

There are several fees involved when you apply for an employment based Green Card.

For the EB1 Green Card, you’ll have to consider a couple of filing fees:

  • Form I-140: petition for an alien worker: 700 USD⁸
  • Form I-907: request for premium processing: 2,500 USD⁹
  • Form I-485: adjustment of status: 1,140 USD + 85 USD biometric fee¹⁰

Assuming you’re applying with an employer sponsor, it’s worth negotiating about who pays these and other related fees. There’s no legal requirement for either employer or employee to cover the costs — so it’s a matter of agreeing the best possible deal with your workplace before you start.

Don’t forget that in addition there could be extra costs such as applying for dependent Green Cards, or getting documents translated or notarized as part of your evidence pack. If you’re not in the US yet, you’ll also need to pay for your travel and shipping of your personal effects.

You can read a full guide to the costs of work based Green Card applications here

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Getting your US Green Card is an exciting time. Follow the steps in this guide, and access advice and resources available online to help make sure everything goes smoothly. And don’t forget that Wise and the Wise Multi-currency Account are there to help when you need to send, spend or hold a balance across different currencies.


Sources:

  1. USCIS - Employment based migration first preference EB-1
  2. USCIS - Green Card for employment based immigrants
  3. USCIS - Adjustment of status
  4. USCIS - Concurrent filing of form I-485
  5. Travel.State - Visa Bulletin
  6. Travel.State - Visa Bulletin for July 2021
  7. USCIS - How to request premium processing
  8. USCIS - I-140
  9. USCIS - I-907
  10. USCIS - I-485

Sources checked on 04.08.2021


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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