EB-1A green card approval rates: a comprehensive analysis

Approval rates EB1A green cardsIn this article we will review official data from USCIS to determine what the approval rate for EB-1A is. Keep in mind these numbers represent the average performance of all applications, and the outcome of a petition varies case-by-case. 

The data presented here indicates that the EB-1A approval rate is between 70 and 74%.

Source of Data for EB-1A Approval Rates

First of all, it is always important to know where data comes from. In this case, we are not talking about speculation or estimates, but real and official data from USCIS that can be accessed through this link. The data is very recent, from Fiscal Year 2022. Unfortunately, only the data from the three first quarters was available at time of writing. However, the numbers are large enough to make this analysis reliable.

The only caveat to using this data is that USCIS included data from submissions processed originated from previous years. This causes the sum of the denials, approvals, and pending cases to be higher than the total received cases. However, if we ignore the pending cases for the purpose of this analysis, we can determine the percentage approval and denial rates by comparing the approvals versus the denials within a quarter.

EB-1A: The Lowest Approval Rate Within the EB-1 Category

When looking at the first employment-based green card category, or EB-1, the EB-1A sub-category has the lowest approval rates out of the three. As a side note, EB-1A is the only one among the three sub-categories (EB-1A, EB-1B, and EB-1C) in which the applicant can self-petition. In other words, EB-1B (Outstanding Professor or Researcher) and EB-1C (Multinational Manager or Executive) require company sponsorship.

Indeed, EB-1A presents an approval rate of 70 to 74% depending on the quarter. The average approval rate for the overarching EB-1 category is 80 to 89%. For EB-1B, the approvals range from 90 to 92%, which the range was 86 to 97% for EB-1C.

In terms of number of cases processed, EB-1C and EB-1A were very close with approximately 40% of the EB-1 category, while the EB-1B sub-category recorded only about 20% of the total cases.

EB-2 NIW: Higher Approval Rate and More Attention from Applicants

We also like to look at the EB-2 National Interest Waiver category because it allows for self-petitioning just like EB-1A does (check out this blog post comparing both categories). Since it is part of the second employment-based green card category, the standard to be met is lower. 

This makes this option attractive to a wider audience, which translates in roughly twice as many cases processed by USCIS, compared to EB-1A. Specifically, in the three first quarters of Fiscal Year 2022, USCIS received 15,057 cases for EB-2 NIW and only 7,418 for EB-1A. This makes EB-2 NIW twice as popular compared to EB-1A.

In terms of approval rate, EB-2 NIW recorded approval rates ranging from 87 to 90% depending on the quarter. This was much lower than the general EB-2 category, which registered approximately 95% success rate. However, the EB-2 NIW denial rate was lower than that of EB-1A. This makes sense, because the standard for the EB-1A category is higher than for EB-2 NIW. An applicant for EB-1A must always prove to possess extraordinary abilities, while an NIW applicant only needs to have an advanced degree, besides meeting the three prongs of Dhanasar.

Conclusions on EB-1A approval rates

EB-1A displayed a denial rate of 25-30%. The reasons for the denials are likely to be the lack of evidence proving that the petitioner is a person of extraordinary ability. The number of applicants for EB-1A was roughly half of EB-2 NIW, another green card category in which one can self-petition and does not need labor certification. The denial rate for EB2 NIW was only 10-13%.

When looking at these numbers, keep in mind that these are averages for Fiscal Year 2022. The probability of your approval rests solely on the quality of you petition and the criteria from the specific USCIS officer that reviews your case.

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