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All-Too-Common EB1A Filing Mistakes That Could Jeopardize Your American Dream!

By Elizabeth Ji, Founder of The Ji Law Firm

I have observed a troubling trend affecting many new clients: they are experiencing significant setbacks due to EB1A filings submitted by individuals lacking a thorough understanding of this visa category’s complex requirements. Often, these applications fail because they lack sufficient evidence or legal merit. While it’s true the EB1A  category undoubtedly offers key opportunities for those looking to create a successful future in this country, it’s essential to fully understand all this application process truly entails.

What follows are insights on the correct approach to EB1A filings, especially as concerns the critical importance of maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status. My goal? To offer needed guidance to ensure any potential applicants not only go through the processes successfully—but also to safeguard their futures in the U.S. by adhering to legal best practices.

Let’s start by making this as clear as possible right away.

The EB1A visa category is designated for individuals demonstrating extraordinary ability in their field, whether it be in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics. To qualify, applicants must provide substantial evidence of national or international acclaim, essentially proving they are at the top of their game. Such proof can include major awards, significant contributions to an industry, and recognition from peers or certifying institutions.

Concurrent filing with the I-485, or Adjustment of Status, allows individuals already in the U.S. who are maintaining valid status to apply for permanent residency without having to leave the country. This procedure is particularly attractive to EB1A applicants as it potentially shortens wait times to achieve permanent residency. By filing both the I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers) and the I-485 simultaneously, applicants can continue their professional activities in the U.S. without significant interruptions during the processing of their case.

However, it is crucial to emphasize the process of concurrent filing comes with its own risks, especially concerning maintaining—or not maintaining—a valid nonimmigrant status. If the EB1A petition fails, those who have not maintained a separate valid nonimmigrant status may find themselves out of status, facing removal proceedings, and barred from re-entry into the U.S. if too much unlawful presence is accrued. This brings to surface the critical importance of understanding both the benefits and legal implications of the chosen filing strategy. It’s of extreme importance to manage this process with a clear understanding of immigration law to avoid jeopardizing one’s legal standing and future U.S. opportunities.

Applications based merely on a hopeful applicant’s desire rather than a realistic assessment of their qualifications can be not just a waste of time and resources; but they can actively harm the applicant’s chances of future success. The legal repercussions of submitting unfounded applications go beyond the denial. They can include accusations of fraud and material misrepresentation, especially in cases where evidence is fabricated or significantly embellished. Since EB1A applications are self-petitions, the applicant is directly responsible for all information provided. This means each applicant signs under penalty of perjury, affirming the information and documents are true and accurate.

To reiterate, misrepresentations, whether intentional or due to negligence, can lead to severe legal consequences such as bans from future visa applications. Understanding the self-petition nature of EB1A highlights the need for integrity and thorough preparation. As a legal advisor, it is my responsibility to help my clients appreciate the stakes involved and to steer them away from making potentially career-ending mistakes in their pursuit of U.S. residency. What follows is how we approach ensuring eligibility and integrity throughout the application process.

First, it’s imperative to conduct a thorough evaluation of any potential applicant’s credentials against stringent criteria set forth for the EB1A category. Again, applicants must demonstrate they are at the top of their field. This typically involves a comparison to peers and establishment of a distinguished reputation.

To be sure, the complexity of EB1A petitions makes it indispensable to work with an immigration attorney who knows the nuances of immigration law, is up to date with policy updates, and who is committed to ethical practices. A reputable attorney will not accept a case unless there is a reasonable likelihood of success based on a candid assessment of an applicant’s qualifications and evidence. To this point, every piece of information and every document included in the EB1A application must be accurate and truthful. As the petitioner shall acknowledge—under penalty of perjury—the stakes are incredibly high.

Here are more tips to follow:

Verify documentation: Check and double-check for accuracy and completeness. This includes verifying translations, dates, and evidence authenticity.

Be consistent: Ensure all information across different documents and forms is constant. Discrepancies can raise red flags, leading to delays and/or denials.

Preemptively review: Conduct a thorough check of the entire application from a legal perspective to anticipate and mitigate areas that might be questioned by immigration officials.

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Adhering to these best practices will not only avoid legal pitfalls; it also prepares you when building a credible and compelling case that stands the best chance of success. From my experience, it is imperative to fully comprehend your eligibility and the severe consequences for any missteps during the immigration process. If you are indeed considering an EB1A application, I strongly encourage you to consult with a reputable immigration attorney to discuss your specific circumstances.

At The Ji Law Firm, we are committed to providing strategic and effective guidance to help you better prepare for this complex process. After all, the EB1A category requires more than just a list of your accolades and accomplishments; it demands skilled advocacy to demonstrate how your achievements satisfy the legal requirements for this immigration benefit. Together, we can evaluate your qualifications, meticulously plan your application, and position you for the most optimal outcome. Contact me now @ eji@myjilaw.com or call 404-947-8048 to pursue your American dream with true confidence and legal assurance.

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