EB1A Success Story: Niko pivoted from EB2 NIW to EB-1A

Niko EB1 Success Story

Niko is a finance and financial management expert from Azerbaijan. He studied a Bachelor and a Masters in his home country and then worked for almost ten years in the private sector, in finance and accounting. He did a PhD in Management Business Administration with a focus in Public Finance issues in resource-dependent economies. 

He applied for an EB1A green card after doing much research and initially preparing for an EB-2 NIW application. In this article we review his story and why he pivoted from EB2 NIW to EB1A, and he obtained approval for EB1A using the Consular Processing route.

Switching from EB2 to EB1A

Niko was recently living in Europe and was not looking into immigrating to the United States. However, it started making sense when a friend of his made the move to the US because they wanted to work on a project together. He started doing research on visas and quickly decided that he wanted a permanent solution to avoid the uncertainty of nonimmigrant visas. 

Initially, he identified both the EB1A and the EB2 NIW green card categories as two viable options, but a few consultations with immigration attorneys made him believe that he could not qualify for the highest category. So he started building his profile for EB2 NIW and used online resources (like my YouTube channel and website) for education on the topic. 

Once I opened this website on EB1 green cards and started discussing this category on the channel, he was motivated to look into this option (again). He downloaded my sample petition and converted his NIW draft petition into an EB-1A focused application. The main reason for this change was the backlog in the NIW category, which does not exist for EB-1A. If you want to understand the differences between these two categories, you can read my blog post about it.

Extraordinary Ability criteria targeted

In EB1, a critical aspect is to demonstrate extraordinary ability in your field. To do that, one must meet at least three out of ten criteria published by USCIS. A smart decision is to always target more than the three needed, just in case the USCIS officer does not agree with your assessment. Niko did exactly that, and argued for seven criteria. The ones he felt more strongly about were his original scientific publications, his contributions to the field, and his work doing peer-review in journals and judging start-ups. 

He used letters of recommendation to strengthen his profile and case. At least three of his letters were independent letters from finance experts and scholars who cited his research papers. In this category it is important to show that the work of the petitioner has garnered and sustained national or international acclaim, and letters of support can play an important role there. They come in very handy when it comes to argue the Final Merits Determination.

His work will benefit the United States

A less known requirement of EB-1A ressembles the “national importance” of EB2 NIW. The petitioner must explain how his work will impact the United States positively. In another requirement, one must also articulate how they will continue working in their field of extraordinary ability. 

To attack these two requirements, Niko explained how he will help fighting financial fraud and money laundering. This endeavor has broader impacts on the country’s prosperity and specific benefits for businesses that suffer because of these issues. Niko showed evidence of his continued employment in the sector (currently in an American company) as proof of continuity to establish he plans to continue working in his field of extraordinary ability.

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Using lawyers or DIY petition for EB-1A?

Initially, Niko consulted immigration lawyers on the possibility of applying for EB-1A or EB-2 NIW. The attorneys Niko spoke to demotivated him a bit, as they advised against trying the EB1A route. Niko eventually pivoted to this higher category and proved them wrong. He acknowledges that lawyers play an important role and may be useful for some applicants, but he is also aware that most of the work will be performed by the petitioner, as he is the expert on his field and on his own profile. If you want to read more about using lawyers or not for your EB1 petition, check out this blog post.

Niko’s timeline: from preparation to interview

His case was quite fast. EB-1 was current for most countries at the time of filing, so once he obtained his I-140 approval it was only a matter of three months until he was called for an interview in a US Consulate in Germany, EU. Here are the main milestones:

  • Online education about green cards: 3 months
  • I-140 package preparation time: 3 months
  • Submission of I-140: end of May, 2023
  • Upgrade to Premium Processing: July, 2023
  • I-140 approval: within ten days of upgrade to Premium Processing
  • Consular Processing completed: October, 2023

Consular Processing: the last step on the EB-1A journey

Once his I-140 was approved, USCIS transferred Niko’s case to the National Visa Center (NVC). Upon completion of the DS-260 form and submission of civil documents, Niko and his family received an appointment for an in-person interview in the US Consulate.

Niko’s tips to other DIY applicants

Based on his personal experience with consulting lawyers, Niko advices others to perform a self-evaluation. It is important to understand the EB1A requirements and perform a critical evaluation of the professional achievements to understand if one can meet at least 3 criteria.

Next, Niko’s tip is to believe in yourself. This stems from the previous piece of advice: if a serious assessment is performed on your profile, then you will gain the confidence in your own chances of success.

Finally, Niko stressed on the need to use simple and non technical language in the petition cover letter, so the officers are engaged and fully understand what you are conveying. Additionally, each claim must be backed up by evidence.

Watch Niko's full interview:

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