EB-1  Persons with Extraordinary Ability

The first employment-based preference category was intended to enable the most talented and/or best-recognized individuals to qualify for permanent residence.  This category applies to those with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.”

One of the main advantages to classifying an individual as an EB-1 worker of extraordinary ability is that neither a job offer nor a labor certification is required.  Although an employer can petition for an EB-1 worker, the foreign national can petition for himself or herself (self-petition) without an employer.

(Links to headings below)
General Requirements and Qualifications
Outstanding Professors and Researchers
Multinational Manager or Executive
Petition Document Requirements
Numerical Limits
Helpful Links

General Requirements and Qualifications

The individual must be one of “that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor,” to be granted this classification.  For example, if the person has received a major internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, they will qualify for an EB-1 classification.  Other awards may also qualify if the person can document that the award is in the same class as a Nobel Prize.  Since few workers receive this type of award, alternative evidence of EB-1 classification based on at least three of the types of evidence outlined below, is permitted.  The worker may submit “other comparable evidence” if the following criteria do not apply:

  1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence;
  2. Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members;
  3. Published material about the foreign national in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  4. Evidence that the foreign national has judged the work of others, either individually or on a panel;
  5. Evidence of the foreign national’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field;
  6. Evidence of the foreign national’s authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  7. Evidence that the foreign national’s work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  8. Performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations;
  9. Evidence that the foreign national commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field;
  10. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts.

Like the O-1, eligibility may be premised on national, as opposed to international, recognition. Unlike the O-1, self-petitioning is explicitly authorized.  However, the higher standard applicable to O-1s in the sciences, business or athletics is applied to all EB-1-1s, including those in the arts or entertainment fields whose O-1 eligibility is statutorily subject to a less rigorous eligibility standard.

Outstanding Professors and Researchers 

The second sub-category of priority workers is outstanding professors and researchers.  These workers are for professors and researchers who are internationally recognized for their outstanding achievements. These individuals are recognized internationally for their outstanding academic achievements in a particular field.  In addition, an outstanding professor or researcher must have at least 3 year’s experience in teaching or research in that academic area, and enter the U.S. in a tenure or tenure track teaching or comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. If the employer is a private company rather that a university or educational institution, the department, division, or institute of the private employer must employ at least 3 persons full time in research activities and have achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.

Evidence that the professor or researcher is recognized as outstanding in the academic field must include documentation of at least two of the following:

  1. Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement;
  2. Membership in associations that require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievements;
  3. Published material in professional publications written by others about the foreign national’s work in the academic field;
  4. Participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field;
  5. Original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field;
  6. Authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field.

Multinational Manager or Executive

The third sub-category of the EB-1 classification is reserved for executives and managers of foreign companies who are transferred to the United States.  Some executives and managers of foreign companies who are transferred to the U.S. may qualify for permanent residency.   A multinational manager or executive is eligible for priority worker status if he or she has been employed outside the U.S. in the 3 years preceding the petition for at 1 one year by a firm or corporation and seeks to enter the U.S to continue service to that firm or organization.  The employment must have been outside the United States in a managerial or executive capacity and with the same employer, an affiliate, or a subsidiary of the employer.

The petitioner must be a U.S. employer, doing business for at least 1 year, that is an affiliate, a subsidiary, or the same employer as the firm, corporation or other legal entity that employed the foreign national abroad.  Definitions of terms relevant to this EB-1 category are found in .

Petition Document Requirements

A petition for permanent resident status must be filed at the USCIS Regional Service Center that has jurisdiction over the place where the individual will work.  The petition packet must include the required documentary evidence and should follow the specific filing guidelines of the Service Center.  No labor certification is needed for EB-1 petitions.

While the EB-1 worker of extraordinary ability may petition for himself or herself, the employer must file the petition for an outstanding professor or researcher and a multinational executive or manager.

Numerical Limits 

The annual cap on EB-1 visas is 37,520, plus any visas left over from the fourth and fifth employment based preference categories (special immigrants and immigrant investors).

Department of State’s Visa Bulletin

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