Home Startups Ask Sophie: Can I apply for an EB-1A without getting an O-1A first?

Ask Sophie: Can I apply for an EB-1A without getting an O-1A first?

by Ana Lopez
0 comment

Here’s another edition from “Ask Sophie”, the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that empowers people around the world to push beyond limits and chase their dreams,” says Sophie Acorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people management, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”

businessroundups.org+ members get access to weekly “Ask Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to buy a one or two year subscription at 50% off.

Dear Sophia,

How about applying for an EB-1A right away without using the O-1A as a stepping stone first?

Thank you!

– Extraordinary engineer in Escondido

Dear extraordinary,

Yes, it is certainly possible to have one EB-1A Extraordinary Ability Green Card without first using the O-1A visa for extraordinary skills as a stepping stone! Allow me to give you some context so that you can consider whether this path might be best for you.

In general, O-1A visa holders have an easier time getting an EB-1A compared to people who are currently outside the US or those with another type of US immigration status, such as an H-1B. For more information on EB-1A requirements, visit my podcast on Extraordinary Ability Bootcamp.

This is simply because the eligibility requirements for the O-1A and EB-1A overlap and those who have gone through the preparation of an O-1A visa have already accumulated a huge amount of paperwork and letters of recommendation proving their success.

Vote for immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn to speak at TechCrunch Disrupt in September 2023.

Image Credits: businessroundups.org

However, I know from personal experience that many individuals can go directly to an EB-1A green card while holding a visa other than the O-1A, or even outside the United States. That means the EB-1A is possible for individuals currently temporarily working in the US on visas such as the E-2 treaty investor visa, the E-3 visa for Australian professionals, the H-1B specialty occupation visa, L-1 multinational transferees and the TN (Treaty National) visa for Canadian and Mexican professionals.

Please note that if you are traveling on a visa it is required non-immigrant intent (such as an F-1 or B-1/B-2), going straight into an EB-1A may be a blocker for later entry into the U.S. as upon entry it would be your burden to demonstrate to immigration officials in abroad and at U.S. ports of entry that you plan to eventually return to your home country. Initiating a green card process (especially applying for an I-140 in the EB-1A category yourself) is likely considered strong evidence of immigrant intent.

The ultimate “golden ticket”

Because the EB-1A green card is a first priority employment-based green card, the waiting time for this green card category is typically the shortest compared to other employment-based green cards.

According to the Visa Bulletin for May 2023, the EB-1 category is the only one to have green card numbers currently available for all countries except China and India. Both the US State Department, which oversees consular processing outside the US, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which reviews visa and green card applications and oversees the process within the US. State Department mirrors those issued by USCIS.

You may also like

About Us

Latest Articles