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How to select the best green card pathway: EB-1(A) vs. NIW

Often highly accomplished individuals come to us wanting to self- petition for an employment-based green card but not knowing how to choose the best pathway. There are only two employment-based categories that allow for an individual to petition for herself; that do not require employer sponsorship; and that do not require a test of the U.S. labor market by way of a labor certification process or PERM:

(1) EB-1(A) for individuals of extraordinary ability; and

(2) EB-2, National Interest Waiver (NIW), category which requires evidence that the individual’s work is in the U.S. national interest and that the individual is sufficiently accomplished to carry out the work.

Our rule of thumb is as follows: If your achievements are enough to put you at the very top of your field, and your evidence is quantitatively and qualitatively sufficient to satisfy three of the categories for researchers set forth in the regulations, then EB-1(A) makes sense. One of the keys to this type of case is to narrowly define your area of expertise such that it is more feasible to demonstrate having reached the top of your field.

However, and what is usually the case, if your work is geared towards health, education, economic growth or the environment, and if your achievements are very good but may not yet have reached the status of being at the very top of your field, then NIW is probably the best path to follow.

For individuals from India and China, which are countries that are backlogged in the EB-2 category, we make an extra effort to explore ways to make an EB-1(A) petition successful since EB-1 from all countries, as of today, are current for green card processing.

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