What is an EB-1B Visa?
The EB-1B visa is a type of immigration visa that allows outstanding professors and researchers to gain permanent residence in the United States.
This immigrant visa category avoids the labor certification requirement, and because it falls in the employment-based first-preference (EB-1) category, beneficiaries with legal nonimmigrant status in the United States will more frequently have the opportunity to concurrently file Adjustment of Status applications.
For EB-1B immigration, a U.S. employer must submit Form I-140 with USCIS to sponsor the foreign national professor or researcher for a green card.
While educational institutions are the most common employers for this category, the potential employer base is much wider.
This category can be used for researchers and scientists who are employed by universities, non-profit research organizations or for-profit companies.
While pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies are the more traditional for-profit employers for this category, other for-profit businesses such as financial analyst firms or manufacturers may also be eligible to petition.
Who is Eligible for an EB-1B Visa?
The EB-1B eligibility requirements state that a person can be eligible for an immigrant visa as an exceptional professor or researcher if they meet the following criteria:
- Is recognized internationally as outstanding in a specific academic area,
- Has at least three years of experience in teaching or research in the academic area, and
- Seeks to enter the United States:
- for a tenured position (or tenure-track position) within a university or institution of higher education to teach in the academic area
- for a comparable position with a university or institution of higher education to conduct research in the area, or
- for a comparable position to conduct research in the area with a department, division, or institute of a private employer, if the department, division, or institute employs at least three persons full-time in research activities and has achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.
U.S. position requirements
Research positions must be permanent, meaning that the position has an expectation of continued employment for an indefinite or unlimited duration, barring any good cause for termination.
The employer of such a position does not need to be a university or educational institution; it can be a private company, as long as it employs at least three full-time researchers.
Private employers must demonstrate documented success in an academic setting.
Even though having a Ph.D. is typically a requirement for researchers and professors, it is not required according to the law or regulations.
Furthermore, a noncitizen who is considered an outstanding professor may be given a research role, and the same goes for researchers.
Three Years of Experience
The outstanding professor or researcher must have a minimum of three years of experience.
This includes pre-degree research experience gained while working on an advanced degree, as long as the noncitizen has completed the degree and the pre-degree research is seen as outstanding.
Furthermore, if someone has already obtained a degree, they may be eligible for pre-degree teaching experience.
There are no rules or regulations that prevent using experience gained with the same employer who is making the petition.
Additionally, three years of teaching and/or research experience can fulfill the requirement.
Criteria to Show International Recognition for Outstanding Achievements
The outstanding professor or researcher must meet a minimum of two of the following requirements:
- Receipt of major prizes or awards in the field;
- Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements;
- Published material in professional journals written by others about the foreign national’s work; Participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field;
- Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the field; or
- Authorship of scholarly books or articles in scholarly journals with international circulation in the field.
Rules state that a request in this category must be accompanied by proof that the recipient is widely recognized for their accomplishments in a specific academic field.
EB-1B petitions for outstanding professors or researchers are evaluated using a two-step process.
First, USCIS will count the evidence submitted to determine if it meets at least two of the required criteria. Then, the evidence will be considered and evaluated in terms of its merits to make a final decision.
How to Apply for EB-1B Visa
Unlike an individual with extraordinary ability in their field (EB-1A category), an outstanding professor or researcher cannot file an application without U.S. employer sponsorship.
The Form I-140 in this category must be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by a U.S. employer.
It is possible to file Form I-485 along with Form I-140 (“concurrent filing”) since the visa number in the EB-1 category is usually readily available for most applicants.
However, you should always check the current month’s Visa Bulletin to make sure you are allowed to file Forms I-140 and I-485 at the same time.
The Premium Processing Service is available for EB-1B Form I-140 petitions for an additional fee of $2,500.
If premium processing is requested, USCIS guarantees that the Form I-140 decision will be made in 15 calendar days.
If USCIS cannot meet this processing time, the premium processing fee will be refunded.
EB-1B Checklist of Required Documents
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations, when submitting a petition for an outstanding researcher or professor, the following evidence must be included:
- Evidence that the professor or researcher is recognized internationally as outstanding in the academic field specified in the petition. Such evidence shall consist of at least two of the following:
- Documentation of the individual’s receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field;
- Documentation of the person’s membership in associations in the academic field that require outstanding achievements of their members;
- Published material in professional publications written by others about the person’s work in the academic field. Such material shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation;
- Evidence of the individual’s participation, either individually or on a panel, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied academic field;
- Evidence of the person’s original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field; or
- Evidence of the individual’s authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the academic field.
- Evidence that the person has at least three years of experience in teaching and/or research in the academic field. Experience in teaching or research while working on an advanced degree will only be acceptable if the individual has acquired the degree, and if the teaching duties were such that he or she had full responsibility for the class taught or if the research conducted toward the degree has been recognized in the academic field as outstanding. Evidence of teaching and/or research experience shall be in the form of letter(s) from former or current employer(s) and shall include the name, address, and title of the writer, and a specific description of the duties performed by the person; and
- An offer of employment from a prospective United States employer.
You can expect paying the following fees when applying for EB-1B visa:
- Form I-140 filing fee: $700
- Form I-140 Premium Processing fee (optional): $2,500
- Form I-485 filing fee: $1,225/per applicant (applicants age 14-78)
- Form I-485 filing fee: $750/per minor applicant (applicants age 0-14, if filing together with at least one parent)
- Form I-765: $0 (if filed at the same time or after I-485 submission)
- Form I-131: $0 (if filed at the same time or after I-485 submission)
- Form I-693 (medical examination) fee: $200-$600/per applicant
EB-1B Processing Times
EB-1B processing time depends on the current backlog of USCIS service centers that are processing your application and whether a premium processing fee was paid.
Keep in mind that only Form I-140 is eligible for premium processing with a guaranteed processing turnaround time of 15 days.
However, Form I-485 is not eligible for premium processing and will be processed on a first-come first-served basis.
Each application’s processing time is unique. To get an approximate processing time for your application, you can check the Processing Times information posted on the USCIS website.
In our experience, the processing time listed online on the USCIS website is not always accurate and is provided for informational purposes only.