eb1 self petition

Obtaining a green card without a U.S. sponsoring company is not as unobtainable as many believe it to be. There are approachable immigration paths to get a green card without a U.S. job offer or a sponsoring company through the EB-1 self-petitioning route. In this guide, we’ll explore the EB-1 self-petitioning process, requirements, expert tips and much more.

Two Paths to Self-Petition: EB-1A and NIW

There are two general ways someone can get a green card through self-petitioning and those are with the EB-1A visa and the second is with a national interest waiver.

The EB-1A is a highly prestigious immigrant visa reserved for only the most extraordinary individuals (in the fields of business, education, science, art, and athletics). So with that requirement in place, it ends up being one of the more difficult visas to obtain.

To qualify under the EB-1A you must fit into one of the following groups and provide evidence:

1. Demonstrating that you have won a major international award that is widely recognized (i.e., a Nobel Prize, Olympic Gold Medal, Pulitzer Prize, etc.)


2. Proving that you have fulfilled at least three of the following alternative criteria:

  • Earned a lesser award that is either nationally or internationally recognized
  • Maintain membership in a distinguished organization that requires extraordinary ability to enter.
  • 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(h)(3)(ii), association membership should not be part of someone’s employment. If the evidence in the record does not establish that an association of which the petitioner is a member requires outstanding achievements, the AAO has shown that it is willing to consider additional supporting documentation, as was the case in a sustained appeal by a water skier who did not initially meet the membership criterion.
  • Showing that there has been material published about your work in a reputable publication.
  • Having been an official judge of the work of your peers in your field (i.e., peer-reviewing manuscripts for scholarly journals, reviewing conference papers, etc. This can either be done on a panel or individually. Serving as a graduate dissertation committee member can also be applicable.
  • Demonstrating that you have made significant contributions to your field of a scholarly or scientific nature.
  • Having written scholarly articles published in major trade publications.
  • Playing a critical role in a reputable organization in your field.
  • Commanding a large salary that indicates your extraordinary ability.

It’s important to also mention that in the event that you do have a sponsoring employer, you can also obtain an EB-1A that way. Other green cards that allow self-petitioning include the EB-5 for investors and EB-2 with NIW.

EB-2 with National Interest Waiver

Essentially what the NIW allows is for individuals with exceptional abilities to forego the job offer and labor certification requirements if they can demonstrate that their work is in the national interest of the U.S. The national importance can be shown as merit in the arena of business, science, technology, health, culture, or education. While there does not need to be quantifiable evidence of economic impact, it may help your case.

What’s more, you’ll need to show evidence that the U.S. would benefit “on balance” to waive the job offer criteria for an EB-2. This means that the advantages of waiving the job offer requirement outweigh the advantages of not waiving it. Discuss this further with your immigration attorney. Immigration officials will evaluate whether your case has substantial merit through the evidence you provide.

The overall processing time will depend on which center is processing your petition but on average it can take anywhere from 10 months to 2 years or longer, depending on the time for your I-140 and a visa to become available. The I-140 processing time takes anywhere from 6-9 months. Premium processing is an available option for an added fee. Also, keep in mind that there are annual limits for EB-2 Green Cards depending on the applicant’s country of birth and the preference category.

Difference Between EB-1 Green Card and EB-2 Green Card

EB-1 Green Card

  • Managers
  • Executives
  • Extraordinary achievements
  • No labor certification needed
  • EB-1 self-petitioning possible
  • High standard of eligibility

EB-2 Green Card 

  • Advanced degree holders
  • People with exceptional ability who obtain an NIW
  • Lower standard of eligibility

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I self-petition for EB-1?

Yes, you absolutely can through the EB-1A, a green card that is valid for a period of ten years. Plus, as long as you maintain your status you should not have a problem renewing your green card. Get started with one of our EB-1 self petition immigration attorneys today! 

Who can self-petition for green card?

Individuals who can demonstrate exceptional ability (requirements outlined in the section above) are eligible to self-petition. Due to the complexity and challenges that may arise in a self-petitioning case, it is highly recommended to enlist a qualified EB-1 self-petition lawyer.

How hard is it to get an EB-1 green card?

While it can pose some challenges, with the right immigration team on your side you can obtain approval for the EB-1A. Examples of evidence that we have submitted for our client’s cases and gained approval on include receipt of major prizes or awards, membership in distinguished professional associations, published material about the individual’s work, evidence of original contributions in their field, participation as a judge of the work of others, evidence of commercial success, and testimonials from experts in the field.

Who is eligible for L-1A to E-B1C?

The requirement to go from L-1A to EB-1C is that the office has conducted business for at minimum one year before the application filing date. This is a popular choice for many immigrants because EB1c status permits you to remain in the United States permanently while the L status has a limit of seven years. For that reason, EB-1C applications are heavily scrutinized by immigration officials.

How long does self-petition green card take?

This EB1 self-petition timeline varies greatly by a number of factors including the service center processing your case, any RFEs that may come up throughout the course of the process, backlogs with USCIS, etc.