Highly accomplished individuals seeking a path to residency in the United States can benefit significantly from the EB-1B green card. The Employment-Based First Preference Category for Outstanding Professors and Researchers is designed to attract and retain exceptional talents from around the world who have made significant contributions in their respective fields. This guide will serve as your roadmap to navigate the complex requirements and procedures of the EB-1B Green Card.

EB-1B Requirements

Policy Update- On September 12, 2023 USCIS updated the manual to offer clarifying guidance on examples of evidence that may satisfy the relevant criteria for employment first-based preference applicants, as well as how USCIS officers evaluate the totality of the evidence for eligibility. See the complete details in this EB-1 policy update post. 

One of the most significant requirements of the EB-1B visa is demonstrating your international recognition in an academic field. In addition, you must show three years of work experience in that field along with pursuing a comparative research or tenure-track position with a U.S. university or institution of higher education.

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While a labor certification is not required for the EB1-B, you need a job offer. Therefore, the petition needs all the relevant evidence, including the job offer and the position’s terms and conditions.

Moreover, physical evidence helps demonstrate the beneficiary has outstanding awards or prizes in their academic field. This evidence can include the following:

  • Published materials
  • Membership in relevant associations
  • Scholarly articles

Can the three years of experience be cumulative?

This is a great question! Per USCIS, you can combine teaching and research experience to meet the three-year requirement.

However, you cannot apply your experience while working on an advanced degree to the three-year requirement. You can bypass this rule if, while pursuing the degree, you taught a class with full responsibility for the content or “if the research conducted toward the degree had been recognized within the academic field as outstanding.”

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Benefits of EB-1B Classification

EB-1B visa is an immigrant visa classification, so it qualifies for a green card. Below are other notable advantages:

  • Family Benefits: The spouse and children under 21 of EB-1B visa holders can apply for green cards.
  • Priority Dates: The EB-1B category is a priority category, so there is currently no backlog for visa numbers. This allows applicants to obtain their green cards faster than other employment-based categories.
  • No Labor Certification: Unlike other categories, the EB-1B doesn’t require a labor certification.
  • Premium Processing: The EB-1B category is eligible for premium processing, allowing applicants expedited processing for an additional fee. You would typically receive a decision within 15 calendar days.
  • Self-Petition: Applicants in the EB-1B category can self-petition, meaning they do not require a sponsoring employer to file the petition on their behalf. This provides greater flexibility and control over the application process.
  • No Job Offer Requirement: Unlike other employment-based categories, the EB-1B does not require a job offer from a U.S. employer. Applicants can establish their eligibility based on their accomplishments and do not need to secure employment before applying.
  • Permanent Residency: The EB-1B category leads to permanent residency in the United States, allowing individuals and their immediate family members to live and work permanently in the country.
  • Eligibility for National Interest Waiver (NIW): If an EB-1B petition is not approved, USCIS may consider the case for a National Interest Waiver (NIW) under the same application, which provides another opportunity for qualifying applicants to obtain a green card without a job offer or labor certification.
  • Opportunities for Dependents: The EB-1B category allows dependents, such as spouses and unmarried children under 21, to accompany the primary applicant to the United States and obtain derivative green cards.
  • Flexibility in Career Choices: Once granted an EB-1B green card, individuals can pursue various employment opportunities without restrictions, allowing them to explore their career options.
  • Access to U.S. Healthcare and Education: EB-1B green card holders and their dependents gain access to high-quality healthcare and education systems in the United States, including renowned universities, colleges, and medical facilities.

EB-1 Timeline

Below are the steps for a United States employer to seek an EB1 visa for a foreign beneficiary as an outstanding researcher or professor.

  1. Employer files Form I-140 along with the job offer and compelling evidence.
  2. When USCIS approves Form I-140, the foreign worker should file Form I-485, an application for adjustment of status, if the individual is in the U.S. If the individual is outside the United States, they will need to complete the process at a local consulate.
  3. If USCIS approves the I-485, the individual will receive a permanent residence card in the mail. If the process is done overseas, the recipient can enter the U.S. and obtain an immigrant visa at the U.S. port of entry.

EB-1B Approval Rate

For the fiscal year 2022, the U.S. Congress allocated 281,000 employment-based green cards for issuance. However, as of the end of May 2023, current data suggests that USCIS had approved only 53% of these green cards. The approval rate of EB1-B cases, assuming you can demonstrate a compelling case and meet the requirements, is relatively high.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who files the petition under EB1-B? 

The employer should file the EB1-B for the foreign worker.

What format should the evidence of research of teaching be presented in? 

Petitioners can include letters from current or former employers. Be sure to include their name, address, title, and a description of your responsibilities.

Does a permanent research job qualify under the requirements?

If the position at the institution of higher education is not a tenured or tenure-track position, USCIS allows a “permanent research position” to qualify under the requirements as well. Permanent is an indefinite or unlimited duration unless there is a reason for termination.

Is an LCA required before filing the I-140?

No, USCIS doesn’t require a labor certification before filing the I-140.

Do I need to have a job offer for the EB-1B? 

Yes, you need a job offer, but you don’t need an EB1-B.

How does USCIS define “outstanding professor or researcher”? 

The following requirements are how USCIS judges someone to be an outstanding professor or researcher to meet the EB1B criteria:

  • Recognized internationally as outstanding in their specific academic field
  • 3-years of work experience in that field
  • Offered a tenure-track position with a U.S. university or institution of higher education or a comparable position with a private employer if the employer has at least three full-time researchers and documented accomplishments in the field.

Can I qualify with a government agency?

No, federal, local, or state-level government agencies do not qualify under the EB1-B unless the agency is a university or institution of higher education.

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What are the significant differences between applying for an EB1 Alien with Extraordinary Ability versus EB1 Outstanding Researcher or Professor?

Below are some critical differences:

  • EB-1 Extraordinary Ability typically requires a higher level of achievement and ability applied to a broader range of fields, including the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics.
  • EB-1B applies to scientific and scholarly fields
  • EB-1 Extraordinary Ability does not require a specific job offer
  • EB1 Outstanding Researcher/Professor category must have been recognized internationally as outstanding in their specific academic field, plus 3-years of work experience and a tenure-track position with a U.S. university or institution of higher education or a comparable position with a private employer if the employer has at minimum three full-time researchers and documented accomplishments in the field.

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If I qualify for both the EB1 Alien with Extraordinary Ability and the EB1 Outstanding Researcher or Professor, which option is better?

Assuming you meet both qualifications, the EB1 Alien with Extraordinary Ability may be better because it doesn’t tie you to a specific employer. But, again, the best way to know which option is better is to discuss it with your immigration attorney.