Writing an effective EB-1A cover letter is crucial to obtain approval for permanent residency under this category. The EB1A cover letter summarizes all the key evidence that the applicant provides to the USCIS officer so they can review the case. In this document, the petitioner provides arguments that he or she meets the requirements for the EB-1 category as a Person of Extraordinary Abilities.
Typically, the petitioner provides all the evidence in the form of documentation attached as Exhibits below this cover letter. In other words, the EB1A cover letter provides an effective narrative to support the case for Extraordinary Ability. To improve the chance of success, the letter should:
- Be easy to understand for those who are not experts in the field.
- Reference correctly all the documents provided in the petition to back up the claims made.
- Underscore the key aspects of the petitioners’ profile.
- Follow the structure that the USCIS officers are used to, so it is easier to follow.
How to write an effective EB-1A cover letter
1. Plan before writing
2. What language to use in EB1A cover letter
And no, I am not talking about English language versus foreign languages! I am referring to how you should express your thoughts in the cover letter. You must use language that anyone can understand (also called layman language), particularly those who are not members of your field. Avoid technical terms or jargon for your field at all costs, or at least minimize it as much as you can.
Think about it this way: your parents, spouse, or friends should understand what you wrote. If they do not, then you should assume the USCIS officer will also have a hard time comprehending the text of your cover letter. It goes without saying that you want the officers to fully and easily understand so they can have a quick and comfortable read so they are more likely to approve your application. Think that they have a very limited time to go through your (very long) petition!
3. Quotes and references to Exhibits
The cover letter is a guide for the USCIS officer to understand your case and navigate all your documentation. So remember to always include references to the Exhibits in your cover letter, so they can easily check you have provided the necessary proof for each of your claims. This evidence can be University diplomas, letters of recommendation, paychecks, etc.
4. Structure of the EB-1A cover letter
This is a potential way of organizing the sections of the cover letter:
- Letter Introduction (or cover page to the cover letter): very short summary of the cover letter that serves as a first impression to the USCIS officer.
- My achievements and qualifications
- Proof of extraordinary ability: addresses how you meet at least 3 of the 10 regulatory criteria.
- I seek to enter the US to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability
- My entry to the US will substantially benefit the USA
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This part of the cover letter serves as an introduction to the USCIS officer who is reading your petition. You can include basic information about your case, for example:
- USCIS address
- Subject line, such as “Re: EB-1 Immigrant Petition for Permanent Residency for Alien of Extraordinary Ability”
- Petitioner name, type of submission (Original submission), classification sought (Immigration and Nationality Act 203(b)(1)(A), Alien of Extraordinary Ability)
After that, you can introduce yourself to the officer. For example you can explain that you are writing the letter in support of your petition for classification as a qualified immigrant under the first preference employment immigration for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, and you can cite the law that governs this green card process, the section 203(b)(1)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(1)(A).
In another paragraph you can state how many regulatory criteria you meet for Extraordinary ability, and remind the officer that you are “one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor”, as well as you have sustained national or international acclaim and recognition from your peers.
In the last paragraphs you can state that you fullfill the two-part criteria outlined in the Kazarian case, which is a precedent decision that is followed by USCIS in deciding this cases. I explained what the Matter of Kazarian is on this other blog post you can read.
Finally, you can thank the officer for considering your petition and sign with black ink.
Table of Contents
It is useful to include a table of contents that outlines all the main sections of your cover letter with their page number. This way, the USCIS officer can quickly find the information they need.
Chapter 1: My achievements and qualifications
In this section you can provide a summary of your professional accomplishments, serving as an preamble for the next section, which will argue one by one those regulatory criteria you believe you can meet. You may structure this chapter in subsections for each relevant project or task you have undertaken in your career. While doing this, you should provide the specific evidence that validates your claims, including documentation and excerpts from reference letters. Those will be provided in their entirety in the Exhibit section below the EB-1A cover letter.
Chapter 2: Proof of Extraordinary Ability
This is perhaps the most critical chapter in the cover letter. Here, the petitioner will clearly identify which ones of the 10 regulatory criteria that USCIS published he or she can meet. As a reminder, you need to prove at least three of them. The more you can include, the better, because in case USCIS does not agree with one or more of them, you still have others to make up for that “loss”.
Similar to what was said above, with each claim you make, you should provide specific documentation to substantiate that claim. So throughout this chapter there will also be references to the Exhibit section so the USCIS officer can check that you indeed meet the criterion you are writing about.
Because of the Matter of Kazarian, the USCIS officer will use a two-part approach to judge your qualifications as a person of Extraordinary ability. First, he or she will look at the evidence provided for each criterion, and then perform an overall assessment. It is always wise to include a specific section in this chapter discussing the significance of the evidence as a whole, explaining why it demonstrates you have sustained national or international acclaim in your field.
Chapter 3: I seek to enter the US to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability
This is a relatively short chapter in which you will discuss and provide evidence of your intention to be in the United States with the purpose of working on your area of expertise. USCIS wants to have certain guarantess that you will not just get your permanent residency card and start wokring on some other occupation. Instead, they want to hear how you will use your extraordinary abilities in the country.
In this chapter, those who are already in the United States can discuss and prove how they have been employed in their area of expertise. Other applicants (and also US-based petitioners) can provide a Personal Statement describing their plans in the USA. This is often viewed positively by USCIS in determining that the person does plan to remain in their field in the event a green card is granted to them.
Want to see a sample EB-1A cover letter?
Download the full EB-1A application, which includes the cover letter and all of the exhibits, so you can understand how to craft your own petition!
Chapter 4: My entry to the USA will substantially benefit the United States
This chapter has some parallelisms with Prong 1 in the EB-2 NIW category. Here, you should establish why your work will impact the US positively.
A smart way of doing this is to find government documents that clearly state the US want to solve a problem your expertise can help solve. These documents can include Executive Orders, Presidential Speeches, speeches from other members of the executive cabinet, acts and laws from Congress and other articles from public agencies. Additionally, one can use scientific papers to establish this.
The petitioner should clarify the practical application of their work and then explain how this application will be good for the nation as a whole.
Chapter 5: Conclusions
This chapter is just the summary of the whole letter, to wrap up our case and appeal the USCIS officer one last time. It is always wise to thank them for the time they took to review your application, and sign using black ink at the end.
4. Review after writing
Once you are done writing the EB1A cover letter, you should double and triple check for grammar mistakes, or incorrect reference to the Exhibit list. For grammar and language issues, I recommend the free app Grammarly, which helps to point out problematic sentences, beyond to which the Word processor does. Recently, with the rise of conversational artificial intelligence, I discovered that tools like Chat GPT are incredibly useful to proofread texts and suggests change to improve what we draft.
Another underrated method is to give your cover letter to one or two friends or relatives who are not in your profession, and ask them to read it a couple of times. They can help you proofread, but more importantly, they can let you know if something is not clear. If they did not get what you are trying to convey, chances are the USCIS will not understand it either. That should be a red flag for you to go back and rework that particular portion of the cover letter so you end up with a more solid case.
How long should the EB-1A cover letter be?
There are no guidelines on the number of pages or number of words for an EB-1A cover letter. From my experience, somewhere between 15 and 40 pages is common. Very few pages may be hard to get, because that could mean explanations are not deep enough and your case is not well argued. On the opposite side, if your document is too long you risk boring the immigration officer. It is likely you are being repetitive and/or you are including material that is not necessary. The petition cover letter you can find in the Downloads section of this website is a bit over 20 pages.
Closing thoughts on EB-1A cover letters
In this blog post we reviewed what an EB1A cover letter is and how to write it successfully. The cover letter is central to your EB-1 petition as a person of extraordinary abilities, and is your way of convincing the USCIS officer you are worthy of this type of green card. Following the right structure, such as the one provided above, and using easy-to-understand language, will make it easier for the officer to review your case. At the end of the writing process, make sure your letter is proofread and that all the references to the Exhibits are correct, so the immigration officer can find all the evidence quickly and effortlessly.