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Extraordinary abilities & advanced degrees EB-1 & EB-2 | Zontlaw


Are you extremely good at what you do? If you feel that you are one of the best in your field or fields, you may have an easy path to a Green Card and eventual U.S. Citizenship. Are you not necessarily the best in your field, but are you very well educated? Do you have a degree higher than a University Degree? If you have the foreign equivalent (or a U.S. Degree) of a U.S. Master’s Degree, a PhD/Doctorate, a Medical Doctorate, a Juris Doctor or Law Degree; or other higher degree, you may also have an easy path to a Green Card and eventual U.S. citizenship

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Whether you are outside of the United States, or in the United States on a valid nonimmigrant visa, we can potentially help you to obtain your Green Card if you are either: elite at what you do for a living, or if you are an Advanced Degree Professional. In fact, there are two ways to be elite at what you do – and likewise, there are two ways to satisfy the advanced degree requirement. If you are elite at what you do, you can either be EXTRAORDINARY (harder to satisfy), or simply EXCEPTIONAL. Similarly, if you don’t actually have an Advanced Degree, but you have a University-level Degree and at least 5 years of the right work experience in your field, you may qualify for the Advanced Degree-based Immigrant Visa. Whatever the situation may be, we would love to help you apply for your Green Card eligible visa.

Don’t have a job offer? That’s okay! With these Green Card pathways we are about to describe, you don’t need a job offer, and you can even apply on your own. Sound to good to be true? Trust us, it isn’t. However, because these immigrant/Green Card visas are reserved for the very best, it is very difficult to apply for them. Thus, you should allow us to represent you through this process, so that you may have the best chances of having your Green Card Immigrant Visa application granted.


What this means is that you can demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim in the SCIENCES, ARTS, EDUCATION, BUSINESS, OR ATHLETICS. Additionally, while you do not need a job offer, you must plan to work in your field of extraordinary ability in the United States to be eligible. Still don’t know whether you qualify? Are you starting to feel only exceptional? Either way, that is okay! Immediately below, you will find the basic eligibility requirements for the EB-1 Immigrant Visa for Extraordinary Ability.  If after going through the requirements you don’t feel like you meet the requirements for extraordinary ability, do not get discouraged! You may very well meet the requirements for the EB-2 Immigrant Visa for Exceptional Ability. This visa and its requirements are also outlined below.

EB-1 Immigrant Visa for Extraordinary Ability: Have you received a major internationally recognized award, such as a Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal, or a Nobel Prize? If so, you are likely immediately eligible for a Green Card Immigrant EB-1 Visa for Extraordinary Ability. If notyou may stay be eligible if you can satisfy at least 3 of the following factors:

  • You are the recipient of lesser national or international awards;
  • You are a member of an organization or organizations in the field you work in, in which membership in such organization(s) requires outstanding achievement;
  • There has been material published about your work in professional, major trade publications, or other major media;
  • You have been called upon or asked to judge the work of others in your particular field(s);
  • You are responsible for original work of major significance in your field(s);
  • You have authored and published scholarly work in your field(s);
  • You have been employed in a critical or essential employment role with an organization of distinguished reputation;
  • You have a high salary in your field or you will have a high salary in your field in the future;
  • You have commercial success in the performing arts.

EB-2 Immigrant Visa for Exceptional Ability: After reading about the EB-1 visa, are you feeling only EXCEPTIONAL? It’s okay if you’re only exceptional. Very few people can satisfy the rigorous requirements for the EB-1 Visa for Extraordinary Ability. The good news is that many more people are eligible for Green Cards under the EB-2 Visa for being exceptional at what they do. This visa is available for those people that are exceptional in the ARTS, SCIENCES, or BUSINESS, that could potentially substantially benefit the national economy or culture of the United States if they are allowed to work here. Exceptional Ability for purposes of U.S. Immigration law does not mean that you have to be the best. It just means that you have to be better at what you do than the majority of people in your profession.

If you feel that you meet at least 3 of the folllowing requirements, you probably have a good chance at qualifying for this Green Card pathway:

  • You could show an official academic record showing a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability;
  • You have at least 10 years of full-time experience in the occupation where you have exceptional ability and could document this by providing letters from current or past employers;
  • You have a license to practice the profession or a certification;
  • You have commanded a salary or received other remuneration for your services that demonstrates your exceptional ability;
  • You are a member in professional associations relating to the field in which you have exceptional ability;
  • You have been recognized for achievements and significant contributions to your field or industry by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations;

There is one more catch, with regards to this visa for exceptional ability. If you do not have a job offer, you will need to prove your eligibility for something called a National Interest Waiver. To qualify for this, you will basically need to have some sort of plan for how you are going to continue to work in your area of exceptional ability in the United States. This plan for your future work in your area of exceptional ability needs to have “substantial merit” and be of potential “national importance.” The merit in your plan could be intrinsic, like you want to help people with your work in your area (say you’re a medical researcher). The potential national importance of your proposed work/plan in the United States could be that you plan to change things for the better in the United States (you plan to find a cure for a disease through your medical research). Or it could be that you plan to use your Business Skills to work for a non-profit organization in a leading role, that would enable you to help the American people, for example. There are many creative ways that exceptional people can do exceptional things for the United States. However, this can be the challenging part of the petition, and thus retaining an experienced Immigration Attorney can be essential to making this argument successfully. Finally, you will also have to demonstrate that you are well positioned to advance your plan as an exceptional person; and that, considering everything, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirement of a job offer in your specific case. These arguments are sometimes a little easier than making the argument that your proposed plan has substantial merit and national importance, but the assistance of an attorney can again prove invaluable here.

EB-2 Immigrant Visa for those with Advanced Degrees: Are you a highly educated individual? Do you have a degree that is higher than a University-Level Degree, such as either a U.S. or a Foreign Equivalent of: a Master’s, PhD/Doctorate, Medical Doctorate, Law Degree or Juris Doctor, or other higher degree? If so, you are likely valuable to the United States and there may be a Green Card for you. Even if you don’t have an Advanced Degree, if you have a University Level Degree (a U.S. Bachelor’s or a Foreign Equivalent), you may still qualify if you have at least five years of the right type of work experience in addition to that University-level degree.  As with the EB-2 Visa for Exceptional Ability described above, if you meet the degree requirement, but you don’t have a job offer in the United States, you will need to prove that you qualify for the National Interest Waiver (described immediately above).

Still not sure which visa is right for you? Please feel free to play around with our innovative Visa Eligibility Quiz to figure out which visa is the best fit for you!



Are you extraordinary in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, but you aren’t quite ready to commit to permanently living in the United States? Do you only want to come to live in the United States for a temporary period (temporary can even mean for a couple of years)? Well if that is the case, then there is a non-immigrant visa called an O-Visa, that is very similar to the EB-1 Visa for Extraordinary ability. In fact, because it is a  Non-Immigrant Visa and not an Immigrant Visa like the EB-1, it is typically easier to obtain than the EB-1, but has similar evidentiary requirements. For more information about the O-Visa, please click the button below:

Are you a Performer or an Athlete? Are you internationally recognized, and want to come to the United States to live work, perform, or compete, but you aren’t quite ready to commit to living permanently in the United States? If you are an athlete who is not “extraordinary,” but you are nevertheless distinguished and internationally recognized, you may be an excellent candidate for the non-immigrant P-Visa. This visa although considered technically a temporary non-immigrant visa, allows you under certain circumstances to stay and live in the United States for years (up to 5 years plus possible extensions).

If you are a professional athlete and you’re not looking to move to the United States, but only to come here temporarily for a competition (where the only money you would make is potential prize money), you can generally do that without a visa (if you’re from a Visa Waiver Country), or with a B1- Tourist Visa. If you’re a performer and you are desiring to come to the United States to live and work as such, for a period not to exceed a year, the P-Visa may also be the right visa for you. For more information about the P-Visa, please click the button below:

Can I ask seek an Extraordinary/Exceptional ability or Advanced Degree Visa from outside the US?

Yes. You can apply from outside the United States for these visas and then move to the United States if you are granted them successfully. This would be done through a process called consular processing and we can assist you with this.

If I get a visa related to my Extraordinary/Exceptional Ability or Advanced Degree, how do I obtain a Green Card?

By obtaining an EB-1 or an EB-2 visa you are actually immediately eligible to pursue a Green Card (with a few very narrow exceptions). In fact, if you choose, you can actually apply for a Green Card at the same time as you apply for these visas. This is called concurrent filing and we can help you to do this, should you choose to do so. Our experienced attorneys are more than happy to discuss the advantages/disadvantages of applying for a Green Card at the same time (concurrently), as you apply for your Immigrant Visa.

Is Premium Processing available for visas based on my Extraordinary/Exceptional ability or Advanced Degree?

If you are pursuing a visa on the basis of Extraordinary Ability (EB-1), then this tends to have the fastest processing time of any employment-based visa generally, though it is the most difficult visa to obtain. Premium Processing which means that USCIS will adjudicate your application within 15 days of receiving it for an additional fee, is available for EB-1 visa applications based on extraordinary ability. If you are pursuing an EB-2 visa based on having either Exceptional Ability or an Advanced Degree, then the general processing time will typically be a bit longer than for an EB-1. If you have a job offer under these categories, then you are also eligible for Premium Processing with USCIS. If you do not have a job offer however, and you are pursuing the EB-2 with a National Interest Waiver, then unfortunately you will not be eligible for Premium Processing, and you will likely have to wait at least a year to hear back about your application. 

What kinds of evidence will I need to prove my Extraordinary/Exceptional Ability?

It is important to stress that every case and every client is different, and different kinds of evidence can be used to show USCIS that you have the Extraordinary or Exceptional Ability that entitles you to one of these visas. Generally however, records of your education, as well as letters from former employers attesting to your ability, will go a long way in proving that you qualify. If you are interested in pursuing one of these visas, it would be a good idea to start thinking about which former employers you would ask to write letters on your behalf.



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The U.S. immigration process is very complicated, so your best opportunity to get it right is by filing your applications with the help of an experienced Immigration Attorney.  At Zontlaw, we are experienced in putting together compelling applications for EB-1 and EB-2 visas based on our client’s Extraordinary/Exceptional abilities, and/or their educational backgrounds. We work very hard at what we do, and we are extremely good at it. Each EB-1/EB-2 application we file is tailored to our client’s unique background and/or abilities, and we will make the best case possible on your behalf to USCIS. 

Your citizenship and your residency status is something you should entrust to a professional. Call the top New York Immigration Attorneys at toll free at  (888) ZONTLAW / (888) 9668529



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She was perfect! It was such a luck to have Julia Greenberg referred to me by my acquaintance. She is the most caring and helpful attorney I have ever worked with. She is very professional and knowledgeable in the immigration law, and she gave me great advice! I appreciate most that she is always available by phone or returns missed calls shortly – this is something that many attorneys in NYC do not do or have their assistants do who never give the correct answer. I approached Julia to help me prepare for my citizenship interview since I had, frankly speaking, not an easy case, and she did the best  job I could expect. I could not imagine how my interview would have gone without her; her support was significant! If I ever have a question about any immigration matter I would definitely ask Julia for help again. Awesome

Anya Shapkina  on July 6, 2017

Julia Greenberg helps me during the interview process and advises me on the process followed. She is very supportive and handles. She impressed me not only with the professionalism, but also with the art of communication as an outstanding attorney.She is quick to respond to any question that I have. Julia has helped me every step of the way with my case. Thank you!!

Alie Keshfedinova

Julia is very professional, competent and knows how to get the best deal for her clients. What we appreciated about her service was that she always answered our calls or got back to us in a very short amount of time. We had a very stressful issue with the officer but Julia was able resolve it and have our case successfully processed the same day. We could have not done it without her. She is a smart lawyer and a great negotiator with a wonderful personality. Hire Julia Greenberg if you want to get a real result!


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