EB-1(a) for PhDs

Posted on September 11, 2007 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Q&A: Can I get a green card in EB-1(a) subcategory if I got doctor degree?

In previous articles, we introduced how extraordinary aliens can apply for green card, but a lot of clients still have questions on how they can get green cards through EB-1.  In the following articles, we will answer their questions one by one.

Mr. Zhang asked:

I am studying for my doctoral degree in Biology in the US, and I want to stay in the US to work on some related job.  Some of my friends told me that I can apply for EB-1-A if I want to get green card in the US because I have doctor degree.  I want to know whether this information is right or wrong and, if it’s right, are there any other requirements for EB-1-A?  How should I prepare to apply?


An advanced degree such as doctoral degree is one of the basic requirements for EB-1-A application.  Many students who obtained a doctoral degree in a science field have applied for green card through the EB-1-A subcategory successfully.  However, it is important to know that the doctoral degree is not the only requirement for the EB-1-A application.  In fact, EB-1-A covers aliens possessing extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.  An alien with extraordinary ability means the individual is one person among the small percentage of people who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.  Thus, except for aliens who can show they have received an internationally recognized major award such as a Nobel Prize or an Academy Award, most applicants need to show three of the ten types of evidence required by the INA.  Moreover, according to our experience, the three types of evidence that are easiest to provide for young students who come to the US to study in the field of science are:

  • Evidence of the alien’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  • Evidence of the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business- related contributions of major significance in the field;
  • Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications or other major media, relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought.  Such evidence shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation.

It seems that the first requirement is easy to satisfy for those applicants with doctoral degree in the US who published a lot.  However, the USCIS has requirements on the quality of the published works.  That is to say, the USCIS will ask for evidence to prove that the publication is well-known in the professional area or been used for reference or quoted by other publications in the professional area.  Thus, when you prepare articles or works, you need to prepare evidence to prove the importance and the influence of the articles in your specific field.
The second requirement is to prove the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field.  Normally, applicants provide published articles or patents to prove this.  From our experience, this is not enough for USCIS.  Applicants need to explain in detail how their works or articles are regarded in the field and what their influence has been in the field.

The third requirement is that the applicant needs to have some reputation and appearance in some type of media.  Thus, young students are recommended to take part in more academic activities or do research in areas related to public interests to increase their reputation in the area.  Meanwhile, a reference letter from the authority in the area is a persuasive evidence to support your application.

In closing, if you want to apply for EB-1-A, you’d better publish more infusive articles and be more active in your field besides getting some achievements in your area.  Making more friends and getting known by others will definitely help your application.

This article is only for your reference. Please do not apply mechanically to any exact cases. You are welcome to consult our attorneys at Liu & Associates, P.C. For contact information, please click here.