EB-1A I-140 Self Petition Example for U.S. Permanent Residency (Green Card)


This EB-1A petition example and related content on this website (the document) is prepared by Jian (Andrew) Li (the author) for informational purposes only. The author is not a lawyer or affiliated with any law firm. The author is also not affiliated with USCIS or any government agency. The author neither provides legal advice nor guarantees approval of any immigration petition. The author expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any content in this document. The author does not make claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, currency, or adequacy of the contents or information contained or linked herein. The materials in this document may be changed, improved or updated without notice. The author is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the content of this document or damages arising from the use of the information in this document under any circumstances. Readers of this document should contact their attorney for advice on any particular legal matter, and the use of the information in this document is at the user’s own risk.

Before reading my petition example …

The EB-1A application shared by Andrey Solovyev was found to be the most helpful one when I started my preparation. Later, Razvan Marinescu shared his based on Andrey’s, which is even more helpful to me as both Razvan and I are working in the medical imaging field. Thank you both Andrey and Razvan! I can not emphasize more on how informative their examples are. So make sure you do read through them without skipping any detail. I will not repeat what they have been shared before and below I will only provide hopefully some complementary information based on my own experience. Again, read those two exceptional examples first before moving on …

Evaluation criteria

You need to satisfy three out of ten criteria in order to get your EB-1A petition approved. You may find the definition of those criteria is kind of “soft”, so always wondering if your case is above or below the bar? Well, although it depends on many factors and we usually lack statistics (perhaps one of the main reasons you want a lawyer to help because of the statistics they have based on many previous cases) to judge an individual case, you still can find some very helpful guidance online, even from the USCIS officials. First of the first is to understand the Kazarian case. After that appeal, USCIS decided to use a two-step procedure to review applications: 1) do you meet at least three criteria regardless of the quality and quantity? 2) final merit determination. e.g., you may have only reviewed one paper for a non-top tier conference in your field, it does count as one of the three criteria (specifically the fourth bullet point on judge of peers’ work), but it may not weigh much in the second step.

When counting the number of criteria you satisfied, if you have ever obtained a Ph.D. degree, it’s very likely you automatically have two criteria satisfied: the publication and the paper review. The most common third one could be your contributions of major significance to the field you are working on. Check out Razvan’s blog and many others regarding who you should ask for reference letters to help you demonstrate that point (but note that providing reference letters is just one of the many possible ways to demonstrate this point). You may also pick a fourth point just to leave yourself some safe margin. e.g., you can claim national/international awards you won before, or you can show your leading role in some distinguished organizations, etc.

However, for any of the criteria, pay close attention to how these criteria are worded. Every single word there perhaps has its own meaning. e.g., for the “awards/prizes” point, did you notice the word “awards/prizes” is plural, that means if you ever won only one award/prize, that won’t count. e.g., for the “leading role in distinguished organizations” point, can you demonstrate you were leading rather than just participating? can you demonstrate the organizations are distinguished? plus you need two or more due to the plural form.

Position yourself as one of the reviewers, you need to fully understand the rules before judging a case. That’s the homework you got to do if you decide not to go through a lawyer. Still sounds confusing and difficult to judge if the evidence you have is proper or enough? So do the reviewers, sometimes. What happened to those marginal cases? People will appeal after getting rejected. Then, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) will review the case thoroughly and make a final decision. Not only is the decision made, but AAO will also provide a detailed explanation, item by item, of why each criterion is satisfied or not. In turn, not confirmed by anyone but rather just my wild guess, the reviewers will be trained using those decision letters and explanations to better judge cases in the future. Fortunately, this piece of information, after anonymization, is publicly available. Here is one example. You may google search to find more examples, and learning from those AAO letters will make you a better reviewer, hence, a better applicant.

Last but not least, once you understand the rules, make sure you substantiate every aspect mentioned in the bullet points by providing some “real” evidence. Merely claiming or repeating those criteria won’t help.

Reference letters

You could use reference letters to support many different aspects in your petition. However, the most relevant section is still where you claim the major significance of your contribution to the field. The key ingredient is to show how the referrer (or his/her group) used your work in their own product (for industry) or build their own idea/experiment (at least partially) on top of your work (for academia).

If you’ve ever asked to draft the letter, here is a very general structure you may start with:

  • Beginning paragraph

    I’m writing to express my strongest support to Dr. XYZ’s application for permanent residency in the United States. Dr. XYZ is a scientist with extraordinary abilities in the area of XYZ.

  • Self introduction and establish the qualification of the referrer

    I am XYZ, a Professor of XYZ in XYZ University … I received my Ph.D. degree from … I’m leading the XYZ lab at XYZ institute …

  • Talk about the referrer’s research focus, this has to be strongly related to the field of your expertise (otherwise you wouldn’t ask for a letter from this referrer)

    My reseach is about … Our goal is to … We use XYZ to solve XYZ issue …

  • Explain how the referrer knows you/your work, why your work is very important

    I have never met Dr. XYZ before but I was very excited about his/her recent findings when reading his/her publication in XYZ … Dr. XYZ’s finding is of critical importance to the XYZ field because …

  • Demonstrate how the referrer is using your stuff, you may spend one or two paragraphs on this part, the more concrete/detailed explanation, the better.

    (I can’t make this up, you will need to describe this relationship and it differs case by case. That’s also why it makes sense to do a self petition as the lawyers can’t make up this part either.)

  • Concluding paragraph

    Therefore, I strongly support Dr. XYZ in this petition for permanent residency. It would be our great pleasure to have Dr. XYZ continue to work and make significant contribution to the U.S. Please do not hesitate to contact me …

When should you ask for a letter? As early as when you have a general idea about who you should ask for and which point you want that letter to demonstrate/support. At least you should first ask the potential referrers if they would like to provide a letter for you or not. It’s absolutely ok if they say no or not replying your email as people are busy, and providing such a letter does you a big favor and that’s not something they are obligated to at all. (I am so grateful to those people who wrote me a letter, thank you all!) Nevertheless, asking for the agreement at the early stage will give you sufficient time to adjust your petition strategy. My timeline is is appended below for your reference.

Two complete examples of my reference letters are provided within the PDF file you may download at the botton of the page.

Filing and other tips

Just to randomly list some tips I thought useful (as of Apr. 2023) when I filed my application. They may have been already outdated. So make sure you check the most up-to-date information when filing your petition.

  • In your evidence/exhibit, you may consider highlighting relevant paragraphs or sentences to help the reviewer quickly locate the information you would like them to see. e.g., in your first pages of publication, I marked the journal/conference and my name in yellow.

  • For those of you who are impacted by the retrogression, i.e., your I-485 date is not current based on the visa bulletin and you need to wait in the queue, I recommend filing the I-140 by itself.

  • For those of you who are not impacted by the retrogression, if EB-2 NIW is still an option, go for that one. You could pretty much follow the same procedure to prepare a NIW application by yourself, but the criteria are much lower. Plus, Premium Processing (PP) seems available for NIW started Feb. 2023, meaning you can get your I-140 result within a few weeks, if you don’t mind paying for the PP.

  • For those of you who are just out of your STEM Ph.D. program and currently under OPT, filing I-140 (or any immigrant visa) may prevent you from renewing your OPT, i.e., the STEM-OPT, (or perhaps from application of any non-immigrant visa). H1-B should be ok as it is one of the few non-immigrant visa types with dual intent. Again, I’m not a lawyer, do not take my words as granted, instead, consult a immigrant law specialist for your specific matter.

  • Currently, I-140 application can only be filed via mail. Read through the official instruction line by line. When assembling your package, do not use staples, fasteners, hole punch, paper clip, binder clip, etc. when filing directly with USCIS service center. Why? because they will scan your documents into their electronic database systems. How to make the scan process as easy/smooth as possible? The best way I found (learned from my visa specialist when filing my H1-B) is to place a colored paper separating between sections. If you download my example PDF below, you will see those blue pages. Put your actual materials interleaved with the blue pages.

  • Related to the previous point, print everything on single-sided letter pages. The entire package is probably going to be very thick (mine is over 2 inches), and it may not fit into one envelope. That’s ok. You may separate them into two or three parts and just make sure you clearly label them on top of the envelop, something like “EB-1A I-140 Part 1 (2, 3, …)”.

  • Triple check if you have all signatures properly done (either yours or your referrers’), on checks, on the petition letter, on the statement of intention letter, on all reference letters, etc.

  • It would be nice (and peace of mind) to have a lawyer to do a final check on your entire application package before sending them out. I used the same service from Yaming Gao as Razvan used. He did an excellent job in evaluating the case and he pointed out several mistakes I made on those actual application forms. Strongly recommended!

  • I will supplement if anything else come into my mind later …

My timeline so far

Since I have to wait for my priority date to become current, I don’t have any information beyond the approval of my I-140.

  • 2022/02/28: My first draft (really just outline with headings) of my petition letter.

  • 2022/02 - 2022/07: Learning basic knowledge about green card application, thinking about who should I ask for a letter and which point should that letter demonstrate, asking for agreement on reference letters, etc.

  • 2022/07 - 2022/08: Drafted 80% of the petition letter, leaving all quotes blank (those rectangle areas with content from the letters to be filled in later).

  • 2022/08 - 2023/03: Drafting the reference letters, sending them to the referrers for approval and signature. Some of them need to go back and forth if the referrer would like to add/delete/edit part of the letter.

  • 2023/03 - 2023/04: Finalizing everything: filling in I-140, I-907, G-1145, writing checks, scanning identification/immigration documents, printing, packaging, etc.

  • 2023/04/14: Submitted I-140 with PP.

  • 2023/04/27: I-140 approvded.

  • ? to be updated …

I hope my case, together with Andrey and Razvan, provides you some sense and confidence in self petition of permanent residency under EB-1A category. I’ve learned so much from others during my preparation, particularly those two previous excellent examples, now I’m happy to have the opportunity to share my case back with the community.

Please follow this link (will open a new page) and fill out the form. An e-mail will be sent to you with a personal download link (~31MB). As with any of my research code/software, please check out the privacy and consent page should you have any question about the downloading service.

Note that I do not earn money by selling documents or providing consulting service, and everything I shared here is only to help peers, fellows like me who are also in the same situation.

If you have any further question or feel I’ve missed some point, I’m happy to discuss them with you via e-mail. If there is any commonality among the questions, I may update them on this site so other people also can see them. However, I will only discuss topics regarding application rules, strategies, etc. and I do not answer evaluation related questions. e.g., “I have XYZ number of publications with XYZ number of citations, will my case get approved?”, those questions will be automatically dropped.