Understanding USCIS Adjudication Trends for EB-1 Green Cards

The EB-1 green card category offers extraordinary-ability workers, outstanding professors, and researchers a direct path to permanent U.S. residence without needing employer sponsorship or labor certification. But navigating the EB-1 process requires keeping up with emerging U.S. 

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) trends. This article will define the significance of the EB-1 categories, strategies to follow USCIS adjudications, criteria for the EB-1-A and EB-1-B subcategories, tips for successful petitions, and frequently asked questions.

The Significance of EB-1 Green Cards

The employment-based, first-preference EB-1 green card has significant advantages over other categories like EB-2 and EB-3. EB-1 classifications do not require a specific job offer or evidence that no qualified U.S. workers are available. Applicants can self-petition by demonstrating extraordinary abilities or achievements in their field.

In addition, EB-1 cases avoid the lengthy Department of Labor permanent labor certification process. Compared to other green card categories, USCIS processing is generally faster for EB-1 petitions. These benefits make the EB-1 an appealing option for professionals at the top of their fields. 

How the EB-1 Compares to Other Visa Options

The EB-1 stands out against alternatives like the H-1B, O-1A, and EB-2/EB-3 green cards:

  • H-1B Visa: Subject to annual cap and dependency on employer sponsorship. But allows longer 6+ year stays.
  • O-1A Visa: No cap, but high eligibility standards. Up to 3 years initial stay.
  • EB-2/EB-3 Green Cards: Lengthy labor certification required. Slower processing times.

For individuals who qualify, the EB-1 offers faster and more direct access to permanent U.S. residency.

Understanding USCIS Decisions and Policies

Since EB-1 eligibility hinges on satisfying subjective criteria like “extraordinary ability” or ” outstanding professor,” keeping up with emerging USCIS trends is critical. Two strategies can provide insight:

  • Reviewing Individual Decisions: USCIS publishes selected decisions on EB-1 cases, designated as “non-precedent” because they are not binding. However, these decisions provide valuable examples of how USCIS evaluates evidence.
  • Reading AAO Guidance: The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) issues non-binding guidance on EB-1 criteria. Monitoring new AAO guidance can identify where standards are changing.

Qualifying as an Alien of Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A)

The EB-1-A subcategory is for foreign nationals demonstrating extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. While the standard is high, individuals can self-petition without an employer’s involvement.

“Extraordinary ability” refers to expertise, indicating the individual is one of the best in their field worldwide. USCIS regulations list ten criteria to document extraordinary ability:

  • Receipt of globally recognized prizes or awards
  • Membership in associations requiring outstanding achievements
  • Issued material in skilled publications or major media about the individual
  • Participation as a judge of the career of others in the field
  • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, business, or athletic contributions of significant value
  • Authorship of academic articles in experienced journals or other leading media
  • Show of work at creative displays or showcases
  • Performance in a top or essential role for outstanding organizations
  • High salary comparable to others in the field
  • Commercial successes in the performing arts

Evidence must establish that the petitioner satisfies at least three criteria for extraordinary ability.

Criteria for Outstanding Professors and Researchers (EB-1B)

The EB-1-B category is for outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years of experience in education or research. “Outstanding” professors and researchers must demonstrate international recognition and expertise.

To qualify, petitioners must satisfy three of six regulatory criteria:

  • Receipt of significant prizes or awards for outstanding accomplishment
  • Membership in associations requiring outstanding achievements of members
  • Issued material in professional journals written by others about the alien’salien’s work
  • Participation as a judge of the work of others in the domain
  • Original scientific, educational, creative, athletic, or business-related contributions of central matter
  • Authorship of academic books or articles in scholarly journals with global circulation

In addition, a permanent job offer from a U.S. employer is required. EB-1B beneficiaries perform in tenure or tenure-track teaching or comparable research positions.

Overcoming Challenges in Proving Extraordinary Ability

USCIS scrutinizes EB-1 petitions to ensure only genuinely extraordinary individuals receive approval. Attorney’sAttorney’s report heightened evidentiary standards to satisfy criteria like:

  • Awards recognizing international contributions, not just regional or national acclaim
  • Publications documenting the petitioner’spetitioner’s work, not just about the field generally
  • Membership is reserved for top professionals. Most have extraordinary achievements.

Careful record collection and effective presentation of credentials are essential. More than simply having an impressive bio is required. Petitioners must contextualize accomplishments and explain their significance.

Tips for Successful EB-1 Petitions

Follow these best practices when compiling an EB-1 petition:

  • Provide context around awards, prizes, or honors, explaining their competitive nature and prestige in your field of endeavor. Avoid listing accolades without this background.
  • Highlight citation rates and downloads for published papers demonstrating the international reach and influence of your research or creative output.
  • Clearly define the boundaries of your field of expertise. Avoid an overbroad definition that dilutes the extraordinary nature of your accomplishments.


What is the EB-1 Green Card category?

The EB-1 is an employment-based green card category for foreign nationals of exceptional ability, outstanding professors, and researchers. EB-1 beneficiaries can obtain green cards without labor certification or specific job requirements.

 How does one qualify as an outstanding professor/researcher?

Outstanding professor/researcher petitions require satisfying at least three of six regulatory criteria demonstrating international recognition plus three years of teaching and research experience. A permanent job offer from a U.S. employer is also required.

What are the benefits of the EB-1 category over other green card categories?

Compared to categories like EB-2 and EB-3, the EB-1 offers faster processing, no need for labor certification, and the ability to self-petition without an employer. EB-1 has more flexible job requirements for beneficiaries.

Staying up-to-date on USCIS policies and adjudication trends is critical for navigating the EB-1 process successfully. Given the competitive nature of these petitions, working with an experienced immigration attorney can help maximize approvals.

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