An O-1 visa is available to foreign nationals who possess extraordinary ability in sciences, education, business, or athletics or who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry or the arts. A green card is available for individuals with the same achievements to obtain permanent residence in the United States. However, the evidentiary requirements to establish “extraordinary ability” for an O-1 visa are different from those required for an EB1-A green card.
Some people with an O-1 visa may reach a level in their careers where they can qualify for an EB1-A green card. In those instances, they may decide to “upgrade” to a green card based on their eligibility. EB1-A green cards are reserved for a small percentage of individuals at the very top of their fields.
The evidence used to demonstrate “extraordinary ability” in an EB1-A green card application is similar to what is used for an O-1 visa application. However, there are some differences. USCIS evaluates green card applications more strictly, and approval of an O-1 application does not guarantee approval of an EB1-A application. To qualify for an EB1-A green card, a foreign national must demonstrate extraordinary ability with two additional criteria:
In addition, unlike in an O-1 visa application, an applicant for a green card must demonstrate that their entry into the U.S. will substantially benefit the U.S. prospectively. They must show that their extraordinary ability enhances American culture, medicine, sciences, or economy.
The obvious benefit of an EB1-A green card is the ability to reside in the United States permanently. There are other benefits. An application for a green card can be self-sponsored, unlike an O-1 application. In addition, there is no need to file a new application if the green card holder wants to change jobs. There are also no work hours or wage restrictions. Spouses and children of green card holders can also seek permanent residency and are permitted to work in the U.S.
If you want to explore upgrading your O-1 visa to a green card, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Serving Immigrants, Inc., we have the experience and the knowledge to guide you through the application process. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a strategy session.