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The EB-1 is the most prestigious employment-based green card available. Its main advantage is that the wait time is usually much shorter than other green cards. Because the processing time depends on many factors, including application volume, USCIS workload, country of origin, and documentation, it is essential to know what may cause delays for your EB-1.
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.
The EB-1 green card application involves various steps that will amount to the overall processing time depending on the subcategory you are pursuing. Overall, the EB-1 processing time can be between 8 to 23 months. If you qualify for the EB-1A for extraordinary ability, you can self-petition for your visa, meaning you don’t need a job offer from a U.S. employer. You must first get an employer willing to sponsor your visa for the other two categories. Whether you have a sponsoring employer or are self-petitioning, the next step will be filing the I-140. Filing times vary based on whether the applicant shall be filing hard copies or e-filing. In addition, the filing time also changes if the applicant chooses premium processing. (There is no premium processing for newly filed EB1C I-140s.)
For all EB-1 visa applications, the first thing is for the petitioner to file an I-140 Petition for Immigrant Workers with the USCIS. If filed by an employer, it must demonstrate that particular employer’s continuing ability to pay you the agreed wage as of the priority date of the I-140. In most cases, the Priority Date is the filing date of the I-140 with USCIS. Alternatively, an earlier I-140 approval’s Priority Date may be recaptured and used in subsequent I-140 efforts.
Applicants for the EB-1 category need to file an I-140 Immigrant Petition and supporting evidence with the appropriate service center. Processing times vary between the different service centers where the immigration petition and supporting documents may be filed. Many people have reported an average I-140 processing time of four to six months. Premium processing is available, and there is no required interview for the I-140.
If available, E-filing the application and supporting documents will allow USCIS to automatically reroute the documents to the appropriate service center based on the applicant’s intended state where the worksite resides. Once your EB1 petition is approved and your priority date is current, it can take 20-30 months for your green card petition to be approved.
The USCIS reports the most current EB-1 processing times. As of June 2023, the EB1A I-140 petitions are taking about 21.5 months on average at the Nebraska Service Center and 23 months at the Texas Service Center. Again, these times are just estimates.
As of June 2023, the processing time for the EB1B I-140 (Outstanding Professor or researcher) processed at the Nebraska service center is about 9.5 months and 8.5 months at the Texas service center. Premium processing can expedite this process.
As of June 2023, the processing time for the EB1C (Multinational Executive or manager) at the Nebraska Service center is about 9.5 months, and 11 months at the Texas service center.
On average, the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) and the Texas Service Center (TSC) have similar processing times; however, the NSC is known for delayed processing times.
Unfortunately, applicants cannot choose service centers as USCIS has predetermined filing locations dependent on the applicant’s intended state of employment and the jurisdiction of the service centers. Information about the appropriate processing facility can be found on the USCIS website. This process will be prolonged if the applicant incurs any delays with applications or misfiling.
Case status checks are available for applicants online. The online application provides applicants with a better determinant for case-specific processing. For those who are visual learners, take a look at this short but helpful video!
Known as an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, the I-485 is the following line of action after the I-140 petition approval if the beneficiary is in the United States. This means you have been in the U.S. under a qualifying nonimmigrant status and applying to adjust to permanent resident status without having to depart the U.S. Only when the priority date becomes current can an I-485 petition be filed with USCIS. It can take anywhere from 20 to 50 months to process the I-485 form, but as we’ll see later in this article, waiting for the priority date to be current can drastically change the overall processing time.
Recommended: EB-1 Green Card vs NIW All Key Differences Explained
Concurrent filing is submitting both I-140 and I-485 forms together to USCIS to be adjudicated simultaneously. It is one of the most practical ways to shorten the overall processing time for the EB-1 green card. However, it is only allowed in certain situations.
To be eligible for concurrent filing of your I-140 and I-485 forms, your priority date must be “current.” This means that a visa number is available, and you can file for an adjustment of status. With this opportunity, you will significantly reduce the overall processing time.
If you are outside the U.S., the process will be different. Once USCIS approves your I-140 form, you must go through consular processing in your home country. This requires submitting a visa application and going through a one-on-one interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residence. After a successful immigration interview, you will be issued a visa to travel to the U.S. and get your green card in the mail after entry.
The consular processing also involves various steps, including a visa application, a medical examination, and interview appointments. The overall processing time for all of these will depend on the workload at the embassy or consulate and your preparedness.
This first preference level is broken down into three subcategories:
EB-1A: For Foreign Nationals who can Demonstrate that they have an Extraordinary Ability
To qualify for the EB-1A green card, you must show extraordinary ability in the science, art, athletics, business, education, television, or motion picture industries. It is the most prestigious of all the three subcategories. It requires substantial evidence demonstrating sustained acclaim and recognition as an individual at the very top of the qualifying field, such as publications in major media, membership in professional associations, and awards for your extraordinary achievements. Did you know there are less common or “unusual” criteria can be used to satisfy at least 3 of the 10 listed criteria for demonstrating “extraordinary ability? Check out this guide on Unusual Criteria for EB-1A Petitions.
EB-1B: For Outstanding Researchers and Professors
Regarding prestige and requirements, the EB-1B green card is next to the EB-1A. You must demonstrate international recognition for your outstanding achievements in your academic field and have at least three years of experience researching and teaching in that field. Your reason for coming to the United States must also be to teach or research in the same or similar position at an institution of higher education or research. Alternatively, a private employer with sufficient ties to research and education may be a suitable employer.
EB-1C: For Multinational Executives and Managers
To be eligible for an EB-1C green card, you must have been employed by a foreign organization full-time for at least one full year in the three years preceding your qualified entry into the U.S. Also, the U.S. organization you will work for must have a qualifying working relationship with the foreign organization for at least one year and be ready to employ you in an executive or managerial role in the U.S.
Keep in mind that the processing time for all three of these subcategories is ostensibly the same. However, based on your eligibility level for the green card you are pursuing, the approval process may take more or less time. Your immigration attorney can better assess your particular situation.
As with most employment-based immigration cases, the processing time to obtain an EB-1 green card typically depends on the applicant’s ability to complete the required documentation accurately. Unfortunately, a common error is that documentation can be filled out incorrectly or submitted to the wrong location.
This will extend your EB-1 processing time and could risk filing past due dates. The processing time depends significantly on how quickly the government (USCIS) can process the applicant’s material. However, you can speak with your green card attorney to determine whether or not EB-1C premium processing can help you speed up your case. This was previously not an option for EB-1C multinational executives and managers but is now available for this classification.
As we’ll discuss, premium processing does not increase your chances of getting approval. It only expedites the adjudication process. To receive the most accurate information, please get in touch with an EB-1 green card lawyer at VisaNation Law Group or an experienced immigration law professional.
If you are considering applying for an employment green card, be sure to check out the comparison of EB-1 and EB-2 categories.
While qualifying for an EB-1 can be difficult and requires above-average qualifications, the benefits are well worth it. There are several privileges you receive with an approved EB-1 immigrant visa, including:
* Decreased waiting times for priority dates
* EB-1A do not need an employer to sponsor them and can self-sponsor
* Ability to live, travel and work in the U.S. with a concurrent green card application
It is important to note that these advantages also tend to accompany increased scrutiny of your case. To ensure that you have the best chance for approval in the fastest way possible, consult with your immigration attorney.
You may want to consider a lower preference level if you do not qualify for an EB-1 green card. While the waiting time might be longer, they allow you to live, work, and travel in and out of the U.S. and apply for visas and green cards for family members.
Check out this EB-1 Cost Complete Guide.
For most green cards, the priority date is the most significant factor in processing time. Most green cards are subject to the priority date system, so it is essential to be familiar with it before beginning your EB-1 journey.
Your EB-1 priority date is personal to your case and the date the USCIS receives your EB-1 petition. This date does not change and should be written down.
The Department of State releases a monthly visa bulletin listing the “final action dates” for each green card and country of origin. The final action date moves monthly according to how many people from each country apply for the same green card. Because each green card has an annual limit, the relative number of petitions will determine if the final action date goes forward, stands still, or retrogresses (moves backward).
For example, if the number of Indian petitions for the EB-1 is lower than the annual limit, then the final action date will move forward. If the number of petitions is equal to the limit, then the date will not move. If there are more petitions than the limit allows, then the final action date will retrogress.
You need to monitor these bulletins to see how your priority date matches the final action date in your category. This can take anywhere from no time to upwards of years or possibly even decades. Applicants from countries with large populations, such as China and India, should expect a more extended EB-1 priority date waiting time. In contrast, other smaller countries may enjoy priority dates that are already current. If so, you can move on to the next step as soon as your I-140 priority date is current. Once the dates match or your EB-1 priority date passes the final action date, a visa number will become available, and you can move on to the next step of the EB-1 process which is the green card application and approval.
It is important to note that there is no difference between the EB-1A, EB-1B, or EB-1C final action dates, as the Department of State makes no distinction and gives one final action date for all EB-1 green cards.
Remember that premium processing may benefit you if your EB-1A or EB-1B priority date is current since these green cards allow this option. Keep reading to learn more about how premium processing can speed up your EB-1 processing time.
This is a question we often get, as it can often seem that foreign nationals from India are forced to wait longer than applicants from other countries. Some suspect that there are hidden nationalistic or discriminatory agendas at play, but the reality is much simpler.
As we mentioned, a limited number of green cards can be issued to a particular country for a specific category in one year. For employment-based green cards, there are only 140,000 issued annually. This leaves fewer than 30,000 for any one chargeability area (country or group of countries) and is further broken down based on the type of green card.
Because of this, countries with tens of thousands of applicants pursuing green cards in the United States will regularly exceed the annual limit. In contrast, countries with far fewer applicants will be less likely to reach the limit.
Suppose the limit is exceeded for a particular green card category and country (for example, the EB-1 for India). In that case, the final action date will either not see any movement or retrogress, causing much longer waiting times for applicants from those countries. This is a backlog, which is currently building up in the EB-1 category. Other countries (for example, Japan) have far fewer applicants, so the annual limit is never reached for any particular green card category, causing their dates to move forward more rapidly or remain current.
Therefore, India’s overall green card processing time will likely be longer than other countries if they continue to oversubscribe their green card categories. There may be legislation in the future that expands or eliminates the limit, but for now, the limit remains the same, which means that applicants from India will have longer EB-1 processing times. The above example also applies to China which has a similar but less severe backlog issue.
Once your priority date is current, two options may be available based on whether you are in the U.S. under a valid nonimmigrant status.
If you already live in the country through a nonimmigrant visa, you can either apply for an adjustment of status or go through consular processing. With an adjustment of status, you can file an I-485 application. This form will add about six months to your EB-1 processing time; premium processing is unavailable. If approved, your nonimmigrant status will be “adjusted” to immigrant status, and your green card will be issued in the mail soon afterward.
If you are not in the U.S. or under a valid nonimmigrant status, then you will not be able to adjust your status and must go through consular processing. This involves an appointment with a designated U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country. At that appointment, you must participate in a one-on-one interview with a consular officer who will ask you questions to determine whether or not your EB-1 case is legitimate. If you pass this interview, your passport will be taken, and your EB-1 green card will be attached and sent back to you.
It can take up to six months from filing to receive approval for your Extraordinary Ability petition via the I-140. Since this processing time may vary depending on the regional service center’s caseload, you might consider premium processing.
This service shortens the processing decision down to 15 business days or less. However, there is an additional $2,500 fee for selecting this option. Depending on your case, it may be wise to choose this option. Remember that this service does not increase your chances of having your petition approved. It only decreases the amount of time it takes for the USCIS to come to a decision.
However, keep in mind that the priority dates are not always current. If a backlog builds substantially (sometimes it can be years), getting premium processing will not decrease your waiting time. The USCIS may postpone adjudicating your petition until it gets closer to your priority date becoming current.
Premium processing has been broadly available for most employment-based green card categories since its inception, including the EB-1A and EB-1B designations. However, it has been unavailable for both the EB-2 (with a National Interest Waiver) and, importantly, the EB-1C for multinational executives or managers. This was due to several reasons, not the least of which included the tendency for companies to fraudulently promote their lower-level employees to take advantage of the preferred status of the EB-1C as opposed to a green card with a longer waiting time, such as the EB-2 or EB-3.
This all changed on May 24, 2022, when USCIS announced that it would be extending the premium processing option to both of these neglected categories. As of June 1, 2022, EB-1C applicants can take advantage of premium processing by filing the I-907 form with USCIS to speed up the I-140 processing time.
USCIS stated that this is only available to EB-1C applicants with an existing I-140 petition pending processing which has been filed before a specific filing date. This filing date cutoff periodically advances to allow more EB-1C applications to become eligible for premium processing. Filing an I-907 request for premium processing and a new I-140 will have the premium processing request rejected.
Also, USCIS has stated that the usual 15 days allotted for premium processing have been extended to 45 days for the EB-1C and EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver). It is still just 15 business days for all other applicable categories.
Lastly, USCIS has released a new version of the I-907. If you already have an I-140 petition pending and would like to have a decision made in 45 days, you will need to file this new version. Otherwise, your premium processing request will be rejected.
USCIS regularly publishes its approval rates for the various employment-based immigration categories. Below is a comprehensive chart showing how many petitions were received versus how many were approved.
In 2022, USCIS received 25,976 I-140 petitions for the EB-1 category and only approved 17,718 of them, resulting in an EB-1 green card approval rate of 68.2%.
Fortunately, USCIS publishes its I-140 petition approvals by category, allowing us to dive deeper into the individual analytics for each subcategory of the EB-1 green card. Based on the data above, there were 5,623 petitions approved for the EB-1A in 2022. There were 10,481 received, so an approval rate of about 54%.
The EB-1B historically lags behind the EB-1A in approvals. With 3,744 approvals for that year out of 4,322 received, EB-1B petition approvals made up over 86% approval rate.
Lastly, we have the EB-1C. As previously mentioned, this category is a prime target for fraud. Hence, approvals tend to be lower and processing times are longer as USCIS scrutinizes these cases more heavily. Coming in with just 8,351 approved petitions for 2022, this category received a total of 11,173, so an approval rate of about 75%.
Data source: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/data/I-140_FY22_Q4.pdf
A PERM Labor Certification is required in many visa cases by the Department of Labor (DOL) to ensure that no U.S. workers are willing and able to fill the position. However, labor certifications are not required for the EB-1 visa but are necessary for EB-2 and EB-3 visa applications unless the EB-2 applicant applies for an NIW (National Interest Waiver).
Have you received a PERM Labor Certificate Audit? Consult the green card lawyers at VisaNation Law Group to learn more about the proper response procedures.
One of the ways that your EB-1 processing time can be increased or delayed is through a USCIS Request for Evidence (or RFE). This happens when the officer evaluating your petition believes there is missing evidence in your petition. This can be as simple as a missing passport copy or more complicated like proof of extraordinary ability for the EB-1A.
The USCIS will give you a list of evidence that is requested as well as a window of time in which to respond. The first thing you should do is take your EB-1 RFE to your attorney to ensure that your response is adequate and timely. If not, there is a big chance that your EB-1 petition will be rejected.
The USCIS may also send you a Notice of Intent to Deny (or NOID) if the situation is more serious than an RFE. With the latter, not responding with all of the required evidence may still result in a favorable outcome. However, not responding to a NOID precisely as requested will almost certainly result in denial. Both NOIDs and RFEs should be brought to an immigration attorney as soon as possible to ensure the best and most timely response to the USCIS.
Check out this L-1A to EB-1 Green Card Guide!
The immigration lawyers at VisaNation Law Group specialize in employment-based cases. They thoroughly evaluate your qualifications and the supplementary documentation to determine whether you satisfy EB-1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card requirements.
Want the best chance of acquiring a green card? VisaNation Law Group’s EB-1 lawyers have filed hundreds of successful petitions and can help you develop a great strategy highlighting your qualifications and accomplishments.
They can take care of all the details on your behalf and ensure that your petition methodically demonstrates that your professional background and experience meet the criteria for an EB-1 green card.
VisaNation Law Group’s immigration lawyers have extensive experience in EB-1 cases and offer extensive consultations. They’ll ensure that all the required and supplementary documentation is complete and error-free to avoid unnecessary delays.