The EB1A visa is a non-immigrant work visa in the EB1 category of visas. An individual, referred to as an “alien”, who has an extraordinary ability and can prove that they “have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor” can apply for an EB1A visa without necessarily having a certain degree, educational background, labor certification or an employer’s sponsorship. However, the standard for this visa is very high. A person may apply for an EB1A visa if they meet the following requirements:
1. Alien has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.
2. Alien’s achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.
To prove that they qualify for this category of visa, it must be established that the alien is included in the small percentage of individuals who have risen to the very top of their field by receiving certain awards or merits. The alien must prove his or her excellence in either of two ways; They must either have a major international award such as the Nobel Prize or have received an Academy Award; otherwise, the individual must show at least three of the following ten types of evidence:
1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
The documentation must show the number of participants who competed and what the criteria of the competition was. The award must be at at least a national level as awards on student level are not considered.
2. Membership in associations which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their fields.
The membership must be in a nationally acclaimed organization that considers the individuals extraordinary abilities like the National Academy of Sciences as a Foreign Associate where the individual is nominated by an academy member and their achievements are recognized or a membership of FRSC level in the Royal Society of Chemistry. Memberships such as American Cancer Society membership where the criteria is a little amount of money are not given substantial weight.
3. Published material in professional/major trade publications or major media about the alien and relating to the alien’s work field.
Applicant’s research or accomplishments must be mentioned on major news and professional websites like CNN, MSNBC, NewsRX, ScienceDaily, or other such publications that carry weight, especially if the individual’s name is also mentioned. Judging high profiled competitions (not merely local level competitions) can contribute positively towards helping the alien applicant meet the criteria..
4. Participation as a judge, either individually or as part of a panel, to evaluate the work done by others.
Reviews of conference papers and work for journals of international recognition along with the number of reviews done, their quality and standing of the journal will be taken into consideration.
5. Proof of original scientific, athletic, business-related, scholarly, or artistic contributions of vital importance.
The most efficient way to prove this is to get recommendation letters from people who are experts in the field and those experts declare that they have been influenced by the applicant’s research.
6. Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media.
USCIS takes into consideration the quality of the work and the number of citations that the article has received rather than the quantity of articles written.
7. Proof of artistic exhibitions or showcases in the field.
This type of proof is usually for an artist’s work.
8. Leading role within an organization/establishment with a distinguished reputation.
There must be documentation that consists of the organization’s reputation and the role of the individual in the organization.
9. High salary/compensation for services in comparison to others.
A salary and bonus higher than $1,000,000 is considered significant.
10. Commercial success within the performing arts, as shown by either box office receipt figures or cassette, compact disk, video, or DVD sales figures. The alien must also show that their admittance into the United States will substantially benefit the United States in the future.

Even after it has been established that the applicant fulfills the above condition, the USCIS maintains significant discretion in determining whether to grant the visa. The visa is granted if the USCIS believes that:
1. The alien has received acclaim nationally or internationally and has maintained his reputation till the date of filing for the visa.
2. The alien is among a small percentage of individuals that have risen to the very top in their respected field.

The pros of applying for an EB1A visa is that no job offer is needed to gain this visa and the processing of EB1 is faster than other employment based green card petitions. However, immigration service is usually hesitant to grant EB1A visa hence other visas such as EB2 or EB3 are often a more realistic option.