EB-1 Top International Professionals


Employment-based first preference (EB-1) for top international professionals include three categories:

  • Extraordinary Ability Workers
  • Outstanding Researchers and Professors
  • Multinational Managers and Executives

Read on for more information about each of these green card options.

Extraordinary Ability Workers

To qualify as a “person of extraordinary ability” and obtain an immigrant visa (green card), a foreign born applicant must meet requirements similar to those for the O-1 visa. Or, in other words, he must prove that he is “one of the few who has risen to the top of his field,” either nationally or internationally. As a result, he must be the recipient of either (i) a major, internationally recognized award or (ii) at least three of the following distinctions for the applicant:

  • Has received nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in his area of expertise;
  • Belongs to professional associations which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
  • Has been the subject of articles in major media or trade publications relating to his work;
  • Has participated on a panel or as a judge of the work of others in his area of practice;
  • Has made original scientific or scholarly contributions of major significance;
  • Has written scholarly articles that have been published in professional journals or other major media;
  • Has worked in a critical capacity for an organization with a distinguished reputation in his field; or
  • Has commanded a high salary or other compensation.

The chief advantage of qualifying as a person of extraordinary ability is that the applicant can “self-sponsor.” In other words, the applicant does not need an employer sponsor. The applicant need only show that he intends to continue work in the field of his extraordinary ability. Evidence of this intent can include an employment contract, an offer of employment, or simply an expressed intent to engage in self-employment.

However, most applicants do not qualify as persons of extraordinary ability. To do so, an applicant must produce extensive documentation and the support of experts to show that the applicant has “risen to the top of the field.”

Outstanding Researchers and Professors

To qualify for the immigrant visa (green card) as an “outstanding professor or researcher,” a foreign born applicant must have at least three years of teaching or research experience. Furthermore, she must enter the U.S. to work in a tenure-track teaching or research position at an institution of higher learning or for a public or private research lab. In addition, she must show international acclaim as a researcher or professor by accomplishing at least two of the following achievements:

  • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in her field of expertise;
  • Admission into a professional association that requires outstanding achievements of its members;
  • The subject of an article in a professional publication detailing her work in the field of expertise;
  • Participation as the judge of the work of others in the field;
  • Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the field; or
  • Authorship of scholarly books or articles in the field of expertise.

EB-1 status as outstanding researcher or professor is not available to most foreign born applicants. Even more, for those who are researchers or professors, it can be more difficult to qualify as an outstanding professor or researcher than it is to qualify as a person of extraordinary ability. This is because outstanding professors and researchers must have achieved international acclaim (in contrast to the national acclaim required by the extraordinary ability classification). Finally, unlike the extraordinary ability track, an outstanding professor or researcher must have an employer sponsor who will petition for the professor or researcher.

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