The Einstein (and Related) Visas in the Immigrant Class for Priority Workers

By David North on October 21, 2021

A recent court case caused me to examine an obscure, but often useful class of immigrants, the aliens who secure their visas as employment-based (EB-1) Priority Workers. The media sometimes uses the term “Einstein Visas”.

These are very much desired documents, as they give the principals and their families instant access to green cards without any backlogs. One of the reasons for this is that the standards for two of the three sub-classes have very high standards; “aliens with extraordinary ability” (EB-1A) and “outstanding professors or researchers” (EB-1B).

The third subclass (EB-1C) has only modest requirements and it is for “multi-national executives and managers”. How this run-of-the-mill grouping made it into an otherwise rarified category must be a story of skilled lobbying many decades ago. Here are the statistics for the EB-1 categories in three recent, typical years:

Migration of EB-1 Principals
in FYs 2013, 2016, and 2019

Year EB-1 Sub-Class Arrivals Adjustments Total
2013 Extraordinary 461 3,603 4,064
  Outstanding 19 3,098 3,117
  Executives 129 8,915 9,044
  Total     16,255
2016 Extraordinary 761 4,769 5,530
  Outstanding 15 2,882 2,897
  Executives 96 9,167 9,265
  Total     17,692
2019 Extraordinary 614 3,439 4,053
  Outstanding 17 1,965 1,982
  Executives 142 9,497 9,639
  Total     15,674

Source: Calculated by CIS from Table 7 in the
Yearbooks of Immigration Statistics for the years
in question, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Looking at the table one can see immediately that:

  • The numbers do not change much from year to year;
  • Most of the slots, year after year, go to multinational executives, 61 percent of them in 2019; and
  • A huge percentage, 95 percent in 2019, went to people already here, probably on nonimmigrant visas. These were adjustments, not new arrivals.

Our presumption is that the balance of the EB-1 visas, for dependents of the principals, are divided as the principals are, so, for instance, there are twice as many spouses of multinational executives as there are spouses of aliens of extraordinary ability.

While the standards for the first two sub-classes are rigorous, those for the third grouping are not. According to USCIS:

You must have been employed outside the United States for at least 1 year in the 3 years preceding the petition or the most recent lawful nonimmigrant admission if you are already working for the U.S. petitioning employer. The U.S. petitioner must have been doing business for at least 1 year, have a qualifying relationship to the entity you worked for outside the U.S., and intend to employ you in a managerial or executive capacity.

Note the total lack of qualitative requirements. No wonder there are often twice as many multi-national executives as aliens of extraordinary ability.

As to the adjustments/arrivals division, only 3.7 percent of the admissions were newcomers to the United States in FY 2013; the percentage was not much different in the other years. The adjustees presumably had been here on nonimmigrant visas.

Most of the adjustees must have been on L-1 (intracompany transferees) visas, while others were on H-1B (skilled workers) or O-1 (workers with extraordinary ability or achievement) visas. The numbers of nonimmigrant admissions in the 2016 Yearbook (Table 25) in these three categories were 677,583, 534,655, and 101,930. Getting one of these three nonimmigrant visas is obviously much easier than securing an EB-1 document.

Region of Origin. A majority of EB-1 visas are issued to people from Asia. Data on the distribution of EB-1 visas in FY 2019 (not including the more numerous adjustments) were as follows for all three sub-classes of EB-1 visas:

Region   Visas Issued
Asia   1,190
Europe   527
South America   271
North America   138
Africa   76
Oceania   21
Total   2,223

The visas issued in Asia in FY 2019 included 637 from China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong), 200 from Korea, and 148 from India. This count includes both principals and dependents as some of our other figures do not.

The recent federal court decision that caused me to look into EB-1 visas deals with corruption in the issuance of EB-1C visas for international executives, which will be covered in a subsequent posting.