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What is ‘EB-1’?


‘EB-1’ refers to the employment based first preference immigrant visa category.

Employment based immigration does not necessarily mean employer sponsored; rather, it means that the basis for immigration is the individual’s intention to continue to be employed in his or her field. Employment based immigration includes self-petition options for aliens of extraordinary ability (EB-1) and for advanced degree professionals whose immigration is in the national interest (EB-2) (the national interest waiver (NIW)).

Employment based immigration is subject to a per-country limit and is divided into ‘preference categories’, favoring those with more sophisticated training, expertise, and skills. The first preference employment based category (EB-1) includes aliens of extraordinary ability, outstanding researchers and professors, and multinational executives and managers. The second preference category includes professionals with advanced degrees and aliens of exceptional ability in science, art, or business (applying through PERM or the National Interest Waiver); the third preference category includes professionals with bachelors’ degrees, and skilled workers with a minimum of two years of training.

To distribute immigrant visas fairly, the Visa Office in the Department of State allocates green cards according to the preference category and the date the petition was filed. Both the preference category and the filing date, known as the priority date, are of primary importance in light of the green card backlogs. A backlog means that there is a waitlist for green cards in the relevant preference category. Since 2005, there has been a multi-year backlog for all foreign nationals applying under the employment based third preference (EB-3), and for Chinese and Indian nationals applying under the employment based second preference (EB-2). Click here to read more about preference categories and priority dates.