U.S. EB1C – Immigrant Visa with no Backlog – An “Interesting” Option for US Green Card

To seek permanent residency in the United States, prospective immigrants may have multiple choices, but various categories befit specific backgrounds and preferences. According to United States Immigration and Nationality Act, there are four main immigrant visa categories, which are FB (Family Based), EB (Employment Based), Lottery (DV, Diversity Visa) and others (including protecting refugees and promoting diversity, and so on). Among these four main types, employment-based is undoubtedly the most common and welcoming one which is divided into five preference categories as follows:


In recent years, especially this year, the EB5 visa program has become increasingly popular among foreign investors looking to obtain permanent residency in the US by investing USD 800,000 to a Regional Center Program in a targeted employment area. Other popular pathways for a green card might be EB1 Extraordinary Ability and EB2 NIW programs. To be eligible for EB1A petition, individuals should be able to reveal that he or she is among a small portion of individuals who have risen to the top of his/her field. NIW program shares a similar but a little bit lower threshold than EB1A.


In addition to the pathways mentioned above, there is also another option which helped thousands of immigrants successfully obtained U.S. green cards every year, which is EB1C. Globevisa is honored to invite Attorney Darren Silver – a former immigration officer at USCIS and now the founding Partner of Darren Silver & Associates, LLP. to share some views from his perspective. He commented that, L1A/EB1C is an “interesting” option for applicants which allows an applicant who has a successful business to then utilize and leverage a successful business venture in a foreign country and allow for that business opportunity to expand into the United States.


What is EB1C Immigrant Visa?

EB1C Multinational Manager or Executive Visa belongs to the first preference of employment-based category, the same as EB1A Extraordinary Ability Visa, while EB1C is more suitable for entrepreneurs or executives in multinational business organizations to expand their business in the US while applying for a green card. It gets the most approvals among three subdivisions of EB1 (EB1A, EB1B and EB1C) as shown below, more than 10,000 approvals every year on average, making EB1C the most popular subdivision in EB1 category in the international market. Especially in India, South Korea, and Mexico market, EB1C is well exceeded EB1A and EB1B per year, is the main pathway for entrepreneurs and executives to immigrate to the United States. While in Chinese market, it is obvious that EB1A and EB1B are more welcomed, the annual approvals for EB1C program in China is only around six hundred per year in the past five years.


Released by USCIS:


Why did Mr. Silver say EB1C is an “interesting” option? What makes EB1C so popular among US prospective immigrants?

The answer cannot be simple. First, it is well-known that the United States is a wonderland full of opportunities for starting a business with its most developed market mechanism and the largest consumer market and import and export trade volume in the world. EB1C applicants usually have their successful business ventures outside the US and intend to expand into America. EB1C program can provide applicants with a matching immigration pathway while expanding their businesses.


“What makes the L1A and also the EB1C an interesting option for applicants is that unlike the various other opportunities that present themselves for green card, the L1A/EB1C allows an applicant who has a successful business to then utilize and leverage a successful business venture in a foreign country and allow for that business opportunity to expand into the United States, “ said Attorney Darren Silver — a former immigration officer at USCIS and now the founding Partner of Darren Silver & Associates, LLP. “Since the United States has always provided opportunity for business and is known as the land of opportunity, there is a matching immigration pathway for the managers and executives of and expanding business.”


While many EB1C applicants also want to know the possibility to apply for US Green Cards through other routes, such as EB5 investor visa, EB1A extraordinary ability or EB2-NIW National Interest Waiver. 


For EB5 program, applicants are required to invest a significant amount of fund into a U.S. venture business that creates or preserves at least ten permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. Meanwhile, applicants/investors should explain the legal source of funds for the investment. EB1A and NIW programs, otherwise, require that the prospect meet certain criteria to show their “extraordinary ability”, to reveal that they are among a small portion of individuals who have risen to the top of their fields. Also, there are other options for prospects to choose such as EB2 and EB3, which require the prospect to seek a US company’s sponsorship for employment and apply for a PERM labor certification before filing the petition, which is time-consuming and tedious. 


Unlike other various routes for obtaining U. S. green cards, EB1C will focus on prospective immigrants’ own ongoing business enterprise outside of the United States and how they establish a US subsidiary or affiliate to transfer managers or executives to the US branch to continue to hold leadership positions. USCIS allows and supports excellent entrepreneurs or employees with managerial or executive capacity to start a business while applying for a green card under EB1C program with no labor certification required. Especially for those who have already established businesses and set up their offices in the US, they can file their petition for permanent residency with only a small amount of investment, making their way to green card easier or more convenient. 


Mr. Silver made his comments as the following: “With an EB-5 an investor would need to invest a significant amount of money into a U.S business venture and create at least 10 jobs. The EB1A or EB2 NIW requires that the applicant him or herself meet certain criteria to show that they are extraordinary or at the top of their field. There are other working visas and green card opportunities which would require that a U.S. company provide the applicant with a job offer and also provide sponsorship for employment.” 


Finally, by tracing back to the history we can easily observe that there was a visa backlog in EB1 lasting during the period of Apr. 2018 – Mar. 2021, it reappeared since Jan. 2023. So, for now till August 2023, the visa available is still on 1st Feb. 2022, which means the authority can only issue the immigrant visa for beneficiaries who submit their files before Feb. 2022. With the increase in the number of petitions after the pandemic, such visa backlog situation may maintain longer. For example, EB1 is going to slow down dramatically for India as starting August of 2023 the visible Bulletin has retrogressed India back to 2012, so there is an approximate 10 year wait for India in this category now.


Visa Bulletin for August 2023:


However, one of the most prominent benefits for EB1C program is that applicants have the chance to get L1A visa approved in weeks to start their American journey regardless of the backlog because there are no country or numerical limits or restrictions on L1 visa approvals per year. L1A Visa is an Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager Visa, which is a nonimmigrant visa category for multinational companies to send executives or managers from companies outside the United States to work at affiliated companies in the United States. L1A shares a similar but much lower threshold than EB1C. As the data disclosed below by USCIS indicates, the L1 category is well received by individuals widely and approved more than 70,000 annually on average.


Unlike regular visitor visas or student visas which need to proof applicants have no intend to immigrate to the US at the time of application, L1 visa is a Dual Intent Visa, visa holders are allowed to have the intend to immigrate to the US and filing immigrate visa petition such as EB1C. Also, L1A visa holders may be accompanied or followed by their dependent family members, eligible dependents may seek admission in the L-2 visa. Furthermore, L1A visa prospects will be able to get their petitions approved more easily with significant flexibility for the business enterprise and high approval rate by USCIS.


“In addition, in an effort to comply with the United States’ support of business expansion, the process can be relatively fast where an applicant can receive an L1 approval in a matter of weeks. Once the applicant is inside the United States and there is a showing that this business is at least one year old, the applicant also has the opportunity to continue running or managing the business on a permanent basis and therefore the U.S allows that same applicant to then apply for a green card under the EB1C program. Where the foreign enterprise is well established and the applicant will have significant management duties in the United States, the Visa offers significant flexibility for the business enterprise, ” Darren Silver added. L-1 visa workload statistics of the past 10 years:


*Data from USCIS


This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

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