The EB-1B category, also called EB1-2, is a first-preference category reserved for “Outstanding Researchers or Professors.” It is similar to EB-1A in the sense that a lack of backlogs allows qualifying applicants to be eligible immediately for permanent residence, often bypassing years of wait time. The EB-1B category does require a job offer, but not a Labor Certification, and the criteria vary slightly. More detailed information on the EB-1B is available in this article by Attorney Dan Berger, Outstanding Researcher Cases: Issues and Trends.

What are the criteria for the EB-1B designation?
In order to qualify as an “Outstanding Researcher or Professor”, an individual must have:

  • An offer of a permanent teaching or research position with an appropriate institution of higher learning or research institution. The USCIS considers a permanent position to be one that is either tenured, tenure-track, or for a period of indefinite or unlimited duration.
  • At least three years of teaching or research experience in the field of specialization; and
  • Recognized outstanding accomplishments in the field.

In order to document “outstanding accomplishments and recognition in the field,” an individual must meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievements in their academic field;
  • Membership in associations in the academic field;
  • Published materials in professional publications about the individual’s work in the field;
  • Participation, either individually or as part of a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the field (including requests to serve as a reviewer/referee for articles to be published, invitations to serve on discussion and advisory panels, etc.);
  • Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field (including citation of an individual’s work by others in the field); and/or
  • Authorship of scholarly books or articles in the field. Again, this evidence must be supplemented with letters of support from peers in the individual’s field.

Is the category open to any field of work?
The EB-1B category is more restrictive than other priority immigrant/achievement-based categories, due to the fact that it requires a permanent teaching or research position. These positions tend to go to individuals within traditional academic fields.

What kind of evidence is required?
A job offer letter from the sponsoring employer is required to satisfy the permanent position requirement. Letters from previous employers may be necessary to establish the minimum three years’ experience.

Evidence of the applicant’s accomplishments in the field will vary from case to case. It is essential that all claims are supported by hard, documentary evidence, such as publication records and accompanying citations. All petitions must be supported by letters from peers and colleagues in the individual’s field of expertise, including independent references who have never worked with the applicant.

How long does case processing take? Is expedited service available?
Processing of Outstanding Researcher/Professor petitions, filed with USCIS form I-140, is currently taking at least 4-6 months from the date that the initial petition is submitted to the USCIS. Please note that processing times may vary depending on caseload and administrative delays at regional USCIS Service Centers, and you can check estimated processing times at the USCIS website.

Expedited service, known as “Premium Processing,” is available on EB-1B applications. Premium Processing requires an additional $1225 fee, and in return the USCIS will make an initial decision on the case in 15 days.  If additional evidence is requested, a final decision will be made within 15 days of filing the evidence.  Note that a petition can be upgraded to Premium Processing, even if it was not originally filed with the $1225 fee.

At what point may I apply for work and travel authorization? What about a green card?
It is possible to either 1) wait to file the permanent residence application after the EB-1B application is approved or 2) file the permanent residency application at the same time as the EB-1B application. Either of these can be done from within the U.S. or at a U.S. consulate abroad.

The benefit of filing the applications at the same time is that while you wait for your EB-1B application to be approved, USCIS will begin processing your work and travel authorization. Once the EB-1B is approved, your green card processing can take place. However, if the EB-1B application is denied for any reason, your work and travel authorization will be revoked and your green card application will be denied. This can be costly, so many people prefer to wait to file once they get approval on the EB-1B.

Is there an equivalent temporary visa option?
There are several types of employer-sponsored temporary visas that EB-1B applicants may or may not be eligible for. If you are concerned about your options, or feel you may fall short of the EB-1B criteria, we recommend seeking an attorney’s help.

What else can I do to help my case?
Apart from sending us your documents and telling us about your area of expertise, there are a few things you can do to increase your likelihood of success, particularly if you are a researcher/academic. See a list of resources here.