What are EB Visas and Why do USA Accept Immigrants?
EB visas means Employment Based visas. The United States have a birth rate of about 1.7 per woman. And the minimum required to keep the United States population from declining is about 2.1 to 2.5. This means that the birth rate of the US is below the optimum. To keep the United States competitive in Science, Arts, Engineering, Technology, etc., they need to permit the immigration of highly skilled individuals. This led to the creation of the EB-1A visa category.
Generally, all EB visas are employment-based, but the EB-1A visa was created for immigrants who have exceptional skills and abilities in areas like science, arts, education, business, or Sports (Athletics). So when you have any of these abilities, you can just apply for the EB-1A visa/green card, and move permanently to the United States from any country in the world. The application is quite easy. This article is meant to walk you through the application steps for both EB-1A visa and the EB-5 visa.
You don’t need any educational qualification in order to be eligible to apply for the EB-1A visa. Are you an illiterate who have invented something amazing, like a functional Drone, Solar car, etc.? Has your inventions been exhibited in any national or international gathering, and you won a medal? Are you an exceptional artist, footballer, sportsman, sculptor, etc.? Do you wish to relocate to the United States for your exceptional skills? Then the EB-1A visa is for you. Note that the United States is not the only country offering talent-based visa to non-citizens.
Different Types/Categories of Employment Based (EB) Visas
There are five preferences or categories of the Employment-Based immigrants’ visa:
- First Preference (EB-1) Green Card: For Priority Workers. Eligible applicants under this category include:
- Foreigners with extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
- Outstanding professors and researchers.
- Outstanding multinational company managers and executives.
- Second Preference (EB-2) Visa: For Advanced Workers. Foreigners holding advanced professional degrees or those who have extraordinary abilities or intellectual skills (including national interest waivers) that can benefit the United States as a nation.
- Third Preference (EB-3) Visa: For Skilled Workers, Professionals and Other Categories of Unskilled Labour Workers: For example, teachers, engineers, architects, plumbers, drivers, cleaners, etc. At least two years of training or experience is required.
- Fourth Preference (EB-4) Visa: For special immigrants like religious workers, special immigrant juveniles, certain broadcaster, certain members of armed forces, etc.
- Fifth Preference (EB-5) Immigrant Investor Program: The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was established by the USCIS for foreign investors (and their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) who eligible to apply for green card and become permanent residents of the U.S. legally. Foreign investors who wish to apply for EB-5 green card must meet the following criteria:
- Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States.
- Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
Different Types/Categories of First Preference Employment Based (EB-1) Visas
If you are a foreigner who wish to permanently reside and work in the United States of America (USA) without a job offer or sponsorship, there are three categories of EB-1 visas or green cards available. Always remember that EB-1 visas are for foreigners who possess and can prove their extraordinary skills or expertise in various specialized fields. Researchers, managers and other business executives, doctors, educators, academics, and anybody with extraordinary talents/skills can apply.
Having said that, the three categories of EB-1 visas include:
- EB-1A Visa: For people with extraordinary skills or achievements in science, business, education and art, who wish to work and reside permanently in the U.S.
- EB-1B Visa: For professors and researchers who wish to work and reside permanently in the U.S.
- EB-1C Visa: For international managers and executives who wish to work and reside permanently in the U.S.
- The main aim of EB-1 visas is to give people with special skills and talents the opportunity to demonstrate their high achievements, and to also help them fulfill their talents and specialty.
- Before your EB-1 visa application will be granted, you need to prove three years’ worth of relevant work experience/history in the claimed field of expertise. The same applies to applicants who wish to retain a position in an academic context.
- Managers and other business executives applying for the EB-1B visa must provide a proof of employment for the last three years. Also, a work experience of over one year is required for applicants applying for business relations.
- If you have been offered a job in the U.S., you need to provide a documentation showing your job offer with your current U.S. employer, preferably a job with a company in your field of expertise or a related field.
- Once your EB-1 visa application is approved by the USCIS, you will receive a U.S. permanent residency green card.
Other Countries Offering Visas to Top-Talented Individuals & Investors
Note that the United States is not the only country offering talent-based visa to non-citizens and investors.
- United Kingdom: Global Talent Visa.
- Australia: Global Talent Independent Program.
- New Zealand: Talent Visas.
- France: Researcher-Talent Visa/Passport.
- China: Talent R Visa (Also known as 1,000 Talent Plan of Foreign Experts Visa).
- United Arab Emirates (UAE), etc.
The O-1 Visa (Non-Immigrant Visa)
With an O-1 visa (special non-resident or non-immigrant visa), an alien will be approved to reside temporarily in the U.S., for a period between one and three years. After the maximum stay of three years, the visa can be renewed annually. The O-1 visa is very similar to the EB-1 visa, as it is meant for those with special talents in the same specialty fields outlined for the EB-1 visa applicants. In order to get approved, the O-1 visa applicant also needs to three evidence to prove their extraordinary talents/skills and high achievements in the claimed field of expertise.
Categories of the O-1 Visa
There are two categories of the non-immigrant O-1 visa:
- O-1A Visa: For U.S. foreigners or individuals with extraordinary skills or ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (but not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry). The holder of the O-1A visa can work in the U.S. as business professionals, researchers, academic, scientists, or as professionals in other designated fields.
- O-1B Visa: For U.S. foreigners or individuals with extraordinary skills or ability in the arts, motion picture, or television industry. The holder of the O-1B visa can work in the U.S. entertainment industries, such as: arts, television, or theater.
NOTE: We also have the following O-visa categories:
- O-2 Visa: For individuals who will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance.
- O-3 Visa: For individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.
Key Benefits of the O-1 Visa
- The O-1 visa holder will be granted the privilege to legally work in the U.S. as long as the visa is valid.
- The O-1 visa holders and their family can travel in and out of the U.S., and stay as long as the visa is valid.
- Also, the spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) can move with the O-1 visa holder to the U.S., but they cannot work or accept any employment there.
For more details, check out this guide: O-1 Visa – Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement.
What is EB-1A US Visa and How to Get it without a Job Offer or Sponsor?
EB-1A visa (also known as the Extraordinary Ability green card) is meant for individuals who have extraordinary skills and expertise in various areas like: education, arts and crafts, science, athletics, business, etc. There are other EB-1 visa sub-categories available for outstanding academic professors and researchers (EB-1B), managers and executives of multinational companies (EB-1C). All you need is a proof of your exceptional expertise in any of these fields from a recognized national or international organization.
EB-1A Visa Eligibility Criteria
Below is the screenshot of the Employment-Based Immigration: First Preference EB-1 Visa eligibility criteria (for EB-1A, EB-1B and EB-1C visa applicants).
Criteria for Proving your Extraordinary Ability
You need to provide an evidence of a one-time achievement (which should be a major internationally-recognized award), or 3 of the 10 listed criteria below (or comparable evidence if any of the criteria do not readily apply), in order to prove that you gained national or international acclaim, and that your achievements have been recognized in your field of expertise:
- Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
- Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members.
- Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
- Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel.
- Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field.
- Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
- Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
- Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.
- Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.
- Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts.
For more details check out this article: Employment-Based Immigration: First Preference EB-1.
Here are 3 of the easiest ways to prove your expertise:
- Providing national/international award certificates, whether as an individual, or as an active member of a team/company, or as a coach/trainer of a third party who won a great, recognized award.
- Providing a proof of active membership of an association that sets a high achievement level, which are judged by experts in that field. Not just a simple paid membership.
- Providing a proof from high-profile publications, like top Trade journals/magazines or media. Publications from local press are not acceptable.
NOTE that your proof of expertise will be properly scrutinized to ensure your claims are correct. Therefore, make sure you are truly exceptional in any of these fields before you apply for the EB-1A US visa. If you truly are, then start gathering your proofs. Also, you will need an immigration lawyer, who will help assess your claim before you apply for this permanent visa.
Also note that once you are given an EB-1A visa, you have to limit yourself in your area of expertise when you move over to the United States, or to any other country that offered you the talent-based visa. This means that you can’t work in a firm that is not related to your area of expertise. This is because the visa was given to you because of your extraordinary ability in that sector, and the country wants you to improve their economy with your exceptional skills in that sector.
EB-1A Visa Application Process
Once you have the evidence of a one-time internationally recognized award, or 3 of the listed criteria above, you can go ahead with the EB-1A visa application as explained below.
Extraordinary Ability Visa Application Guide (for Self-Petitioner)
You may apply for yourself by filing a “Self-Petition” Form I-140 at http://www.uscis.gov/i-140 – a Petition for Alien Worker. Once the USCIS approves your Form I-140 petition and your prior date is current, you then file and submit the Form I-485 petition at https://www.uscis.gov/i-485 to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status to change your status to EB-1A. Once the USCIS approves your Form I-485 application, you have officially become a legal permanent resident in United States of America (USA). This is one of the fastest ways of getting a U.S.A green card.
Other Required Documents for the EB-1A Visa Application/Processing include:
- Signed statement of intention to work in the occupational field specified in Form I-140 if you are a self-petitioner.
- Two passport-style photographs.
- Government-issued identity document with photograph.
- Birth certificate.
- Passport page with non-immigrant visa.
- Passport page with admission/parole stamp.
- Form I-94 (apply at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/) – Arrival/Departure Record, or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admission or parole stamp on the travel document.
- For more details about the Form I-94, check out this guide: Arrival/Departure Forms: I-94 and I-94W.
- For Outstanding Professors and Researchers (EB-1B Visa Applicants): Your U.S. employer must file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. As part of the application process, your employer must be able to demonstrate a continuing ability to pay the offered wage as of the priority date. Your employer may use an annual report, federal income tax return, or audited financial statement to demonstrate a continuing ability to pay your wage.
- For Multinational Manager or Executives (EB-1C Visa Applicants): Your U.S. employer must file USCIS Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. As part of the application process, your employer must be able to demonstrate a continuing ability to pay the offered wage as of the priority date. Your employer may use an annual report, federal income tax return, or audited financial statement to demonstrate a continuing ability to pay your wage.
For more details about EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability) Visa Requirements, Documents and Step by Step Application Process, Check out this guide. EB-1A visa application and processing total cost is less than $1000 USD. For a complete breakdown of the cost of processing EB-1A visa, check out this guide.
EB-1 Visas vs. O-1 Visas – The Differences
The major difference between the EB-1 visa and the O-1 visa is the permitted duration of stay of the holder in the U.S. For EB-visas, the holders are granted a permanent residency, while for O-1 visas, the holders are granted a temporal residency.
Although the eligibility of the EB-1 and O-1 visas are similar, they are never interchangeable. This means the O-1 visa holders will never automatically granted the EB-1 visas. This is because they have different acceptance guidelines. The requirements for obtaining the EB-1 green card are more intensive than that of the O-1 visa. The applicants of the EB-1 visa must prove that they are actually the best, or one of the best in the claimed field of expertise.
The applicants of the EB-1A visa can “self-petition”, which means that they don’t need to first have a job offer or sponsor in the U.S. before their applications will be granted. All they need to do is to prove that they have extraordinary skills in the claimed field of expertise.
Researchers and professors applying for the EB-1B visa must be specialized experts with outstanding achievements in their field of expertise. If they have accepted a job offer from a U.S. employer, then they must prove their special abilities for their company or institution.
Another major difference between the rights of the EB-1 visa holder and that of the O-1 visa holder is that the spouse and children of the EB-1 visa holder will automatically receive the right to work in the U.S., because they will also be granted green cards upon approval. But the children of the EB-1 visa holder must be below the age of 21 to enjoy this privilege. On the other hand, the spouse and children of the O-1 visa holder are not automatically granted the right to work in the U.S. They will be more than likely granted the O-3 visas.
Switching your O-1 Visa to EB-1 Green Card
As an O-1 visa holder, you can change your status to EB-1. You will be judged with your works and achievements during your stay in the United States. You must have accomplished some special projects in your field of expertise before the USCIS can approve your application to switch from O-1 visa to EB-1 green card. Also note that these special projects you accomplished in the U.S. must gain national and international recognitions.
The main aim is to prove that you are a gem in your field of expertise and will continue to use your extraordinary talents to help improve the U.S. economy. If you wish to change your visa status from O-1 to EB-1, it is always advisable you start building your resume and portfolio immediately you move to the U.S. with your O-1 visa.
The Processing Time for Changing the O-1 Visa Status to EB-1 Green Card
The total processing time for changing the O-1 visa status to an EB-1 green card varies. It all depends on the ability of the applicant to correctly file the paperwork, the USCIS adjudication period, and whether the applicant paid for premium processing of the green card. Normally, the processing time is usually between six to eight months. But the procedure can take up to one year.
So it is usually advisable to start filing for your EB-1 green card while your O-1 visa is still valid, else you will face legal difficulties once you are considered “out of status”.
Switching the O-2 Visa to Green Card
If you are an essential assistant or helper who wish to accompany an O-1 visa holder to the U.S., you must have an approved O-2 visa.
Can an O-2 visa holder be able to pursue legal permanent residence permit? The answer is YES.
Even though your O-2 visa was dependent on the O-1 visa holder, your green card will only be approved based on your own merit. So you will need to meet up with all the requirements of a green card yourself.
The 2 main types of green cards that O-2 visa holders choose are the EB-2 green card and the EB-3 green card.
To qualify for the EB-2 green card, the O-2 visa holders must have one of the following:
- Extraordinary abilities in their fields.
- An advanced degree.
- Qualification for National Interest Waiver.
EB-3 green card is also open to most other workers, but the only challenging aspect is that it requires a long waiting time. Most times, the EB-3 green card applicants need to wait for many years before their status can be adjusted accordingly.
Like the O-1 visa holders, the O-2 visa holders need to have their employers petition on their behalf, and then they wait until their priority date becomes current. For applicants who are still in the U.S., they can simply file to adjust their status and then use their O-2 visa to continue with their work. Once their application is approved, they will automatically become a legal permanent resident of the United States.
Applicants outside the U.S. need to go through consular processing, and participate in the consular interview before they can obtain their green card. So in summary, the applicants need to work closely with their immigration attorney to help them choose the best possible options and how to go about the application process.
For more details, check out this article: O-1 Visa vs. EB-1 Green Card | Differences, Approval Rate, Processing Time.
What is EB-5 US Visa and How to Get it without a Job Offer or Sponsor?
EB-5 visa is also called Immigrant Investor Visa. This is because it is meant for business people and job creators, who can invest at least $800,000 in some sectors of the United States economy, where the investment can create job opportunities. EB-5 immigrant investor visa category was created to encourage and attract foreign investors to the United States, as well as to make more job opportunities available.
Therefore, to get the EB-5 visa, you don’t need a job offer, rather you will be creating job opportunities in the US. Also, note that getting this type of visa will help you get a US green card faster. A green card is a permit that allows an immigrant to live and work permanently in the US.
There are many benefits of investing in the United States. Some of these benefits include: large consumer market and talented workforce, easy access to resources, safe from US changing immigration regulations, etc. So when you invest in the US, you enjoy these benefits.
As an EB-5 visa applicant, you are required to make at least a minimum investment of $1,050,000 USD. But if the EB-5 project is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the investment amount will be reduced to at least $800,000 USD. In order for the EB-5 project to qualify for TEA designation, it must be located in a rural area, or an area with high unemployment rate. The EB-5 investment can be in form of cash, equipment, inventory, tangible property, secured indebtedness, or cash equivalents (which will be evaluated in fair market value of USD). You can learn more from this EB-5 Visa program update.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the EB-5 investment must create at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers. After the EB-5 investor has been given a conditional permanent residency, these stipulated job opportunities must be created within two year period, with a proof of job creation.
There are four main steps in the EB-5 Visa/Green Card Application:
Step 1: Selecting a Qualified EB-5 Project.
Step 2: Making Investment and Filing of the EB-5 Petition (Form I-526) with the USCIS.
Step 3: Obtaining a Two-Year Conditional Permanent Residency.
Step 4: Becoming an Unconditional Permanent Citizen of the US, via the I-829 Petition.
How to Locate U.S. Embassy in your Country
U.S. embassy is a group of government officials, headed by an ambassador, who represent their government in a foreign country. To move to the United States, you must process your documents through the U.S. embassy in your country.
To easily locate the United States Embassy in your country, simply go to https://www.usembassy.gov/. You can either use the map to locate your country or your find your country by name.
To use the map, type the name of your country and then click the Locate button. To find your country by letter, under the Find by Country or Area Letter section, locate your country by clicking the alphabet of the first letter of your country name. You will be taken to a list of all the countries starting by that alphabet. Locate your country in the list and click on it. You will see the address of the US embassy in your country plus other visa details.
Videos: How to Immigrate to the US without a Job Offer or Visa Sponsorship | No DV Lottery Green Card
- All About the UK Global Talent Visa – How to Apply
You have now learnt how to immigrate to the US without a job offer or sponsorship or DV lottery green card, how the EB-1A visa and the EB-5 visa work, guide on how to apply for these visas, other countries offering talent-based visas to immigrants with extra ordinary skills. You also learnt the benefits of investing in the US.
Make maximum use of the opportunity to visit and possibly live in some other countries, explore new business opportunities, make new friends, experience new environments, government policies, etc.
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