Those who have read my social media posts or my blog article titled “U.S. O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement” may recall that as of October 2022, I settled in the United States with an O-1A visa. In this article, I will briefly discuss how I transitioned from the nonimmigrant visa category of O-1A to the employment-based immigrant visa category of EB-1A Green Card and share my experiences for those interested in this subject.
According to our plans, in order to enter the United States with our dog on October 5, 2022, with an O-1A visa, we needed to obtain a CDC Dog Import Permit due to Turkey being classified as a high-risk country for rabies by the CDC. Although I had filled out this form weeks in advance, unfortunately, our form was not approved due to an error I made on the form. Even if I were to fill out the form again, the waiting time for approval was 4-6 weeks at that time, and we didn’t have enough time for that. As a result, we had to make our first entry into the United States without our little companion.
After settling in our home in the United States with my spouse, we began to wait for the approval from the CDC for our little companion. As soon as we received the happy news on October 19, 2022, we immediately purchased our flight tickets for October 24, 2022, to pick up our dog and headed towards Istanbul. After picking up our dog, we returned to the United States on November 1, 2022.
Since the O-1A visa is a dual intent visa, after entering the United States, I decided to start working towards obtaining the document that grants permanent residence and work authorization, commonly known as the Green Card.
Dual intent is a United States immigration law concept. It generally refers to the fact that certain U.S. visas allow foreigners to be temporarily present in the U.S. with lawful status and immigrant intent. This allows those visa holders to enter the U.S. while simultaneously seeking lawful permanent resident status (green card status) at a port of entry. Otherwise, visa holders may be presumed to have immigrant intent and can be kept from entry (summarily excluded) as a matter of law. (Reference: Wikipedia)
As my first step, of course, I decided to consult with attorney Muhammed UZUM from Grape Law Firm, who is also registered with the New York Bar Association. During our meeting, he emphasized that it would be a correct choice for me to apply for the EB-1A visa (Green Card) since I already held an O-1A visa, which is granted to individuals with extraordinary abilities.
The EB-1A visa is a subcategory of the EB-1 employment-based Green Card and is granted to individuals with extraordinary abilities in the fields of science, arts, education, business, or athletics.
In order to demonstrate the applicant has sustained national or international acclaim and that his or her achievements have been recognized in his or her field of expertise, the applicant must either include evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal) or 3 of the 10 listed criteria below (or comparable evidence if any of the criteria do not readily apply):
After deciding to work with Muhammed and his team again for the EB-1A visa on October 25, 2022, I started preparing my personal statement, which I was familiar with from the O-1A visa.
Due to the requirement that there should be a 3-month gap from the last entry to the United States (November 1, 2022) before submitting the I-140 form (immigrant petition for alien workers), I had to wait until February. I-140 form is the initial and most important stage of the EB-1A visa process.
On February 10, 2023, Muhammed and his team submitted my prepared I-140 form to USCIS. Thanks to the expedited application process (premium processing) which results in a decision within 15 days (for a fee of $2,500), I was delighted to learn that my form was approved on February 23, 2023.
Next, it was time to fill out and submit the final steps, which were the I-693 and I-485 forms. The I-693 form is a public health measure required from candidates applying for Green Cards who are currently in the United States. With this form, the applicant’s health is checked to ensure that they do not have any diseases that would pose a threat to public health. The I-485 form, on the other hand, is used by individuals in the United States who want to change their status from non-immigrant to immigrant.
After scheduling an appointment for a medical examination at a designated civil surgeon’s office and undergoing the examination with my spouse, we obtained our health reports and sent them to Muhammed. We also paid $2,500, which covered the cost of the examination and vaccinations. On April 20, 2023, we received information that our forms had been submitted to USCIS by Muhammed and his team.
On May 10, 2023, USCIS sent a notification by mail confirming the receipt of our forms, including with receipt numbers. After 16 days, on May 26, 2023, we received a letter from USCIS stating that we were invited to the USCIS Application Support Center to provide our biometric data by June 9, 2023.
On June 9, 2023, my spouse and I went to the USCIS office early in the morning to provide our fingerprints. We completed the fingerprinting process in a short time, around 30 minutes, and left the office. The next day, when we checked our cases on the USCIS Check Case Status tool with our receipt numbers, we saw that the update reflecting the completion of our fingerprinting process was recorded in their system (Case Was Updated To Show Fingerprints Were Taken).
Knowing that a long waiting period awaited us and not wanting to bother checking the USCIS Check Case Status tool every time, I started searching for an application that could do this for us. While browsing through messages on the unofficial USCIS subreddit community on the popular news and discussion site Reddit, I discovered the Lawfully Case Tracker, which was highly recommended by users.
Lawfully Case Tracker tracks and predicts the US visa application based on A.I. empowered algorithms. Automatic case status tracking of multiple cases and push notification whenever there is an update to the USCIS case status. Provides personalized prediction of USCIS case processing times, case approval rate and RFE probability, based on our big data and algorithms.
One of my favorite features of Lawfully is that it predicts the next step based on other similar cases. For example, after I submitted my fingerprints, it told me that others in a similar situation had moved on to New Card is Being Produced status within 114 days.
When the calendar showed July 14, 2023, we learned from Lawfully that our I-485 form, which is typically approved in an average of 224 days, was approved by USCIS on the 65th day without even requiring an interview.
As a result, our EB-1A Green Card process, which started with the I-140 application form on February 10, 2023, concluded in a relatively short period of about 5 months, including everything for two individuals (expedited application fee, medical examination fee, attorney fees, etc.), with a total cost of approximately $15,000.
I hope that this article will be enlightening for those who have been searching for resources on the EB-1A Green Card experience, just like my previous article on the U.S. O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement.
Hope to see you in the following articles.