The Difference Between an O-1 and an EB-1A

Posted · Add Comment

Many of our clients have been asking lately about transitioning from an O-1 to EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability Green Card). Of course, the O-1 is a temporary non-immigrant visa for those with extraordinary ability in their field. Although the O-1 can be extended and renewed indefinitely, it nevertheless does not give you the freedom that a Green Card does. A Green Card holder is a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States. The EB-1A requires a much higher standard than the O-1 and also has different categories than the O-1. For some of our clients, they’re not quite there yet. We wanted to post some blogs about this to help you navigate the difference between the two and also to give you some ideas so you can work towards an EB-1A while on your O-1.


These are the categories for an O-1 and, bear in mind, you only need to be approved for three out of these six categories:

  1. Lead in production having a distinguished reputation.
  2. Critical reviews in major newspapers or trade journals.
  3. Lead for organization that has a distinguished reputation.
  4. Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes.
  5. Significant recognition from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field (those are your expert testimonial letters).
  6. A high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field.

These are the categories for an EB-1A. You need to be approved for three out of ten categories and then USCIS will make a “final merits determination” on the overall value of the case. We like to submit our clients for at least four categories to be on the safe side.

  1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards. Academic awards to students are generally ignored. Nomination for an award does not carry as much weight as actually winning it.
  2. Membership in an association in the field for which classification is sought which requires outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts.
  3. Published material about the person in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  4. Participation as a judge of the work of others.
  5. Evidence of original scientific, scholastic, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance.
  6. Authorship of scholarly articles in the field.
  7. Artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  8. Performance in a leading or cultural role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
  9. High salary or remuneration in relation to others in the field.
  10. Commercial success in the performing arts.

What’s Different?

In view of these categories, when working towards an EB-1, as opposed to an O-1, you want to also consider whether you have any awards (note: school awards do not count); whether you have any memberships that require achievements in your industry; whether you have served as a judge of the work of others; whether you have made original contributions of major significance in your field; whether you have authored scholarly articles in your field; whether you have participated in artistic exhibitions or showcases; and whether you have had success in the performing arts. This is in addition to thinking about your leading role; published material about you; and high salary, which are categories in the O-1.

As always, it is important to make an appointment with our attorney, Jane Orgel, Esq., to ensure that you have the qualifications for an EB-1A. We will also need to evaluate what evidence you have to prove you qualify for these categories.