The United States has an interest in allowing certain individuals to be able to self-sponsor for permanent residency. It’s in the nation’s interest to have and retain the best of the best: we want Nobel prize winners, Olympians, brilliant researchers and entrepreneurs, and highly talented performers and artists to stay here. It’s also in the U.S. interest to attract foreign investors who can help grow the U.S. economy.

The United States also has an interest in keeping communities safe. Foreign nationals are often afraid of law enforcement and are unlikely to come forward when there is crime in their neighborhood. For everyone’s safety, the United States sometimes offers a pathway to permanent residency for those who have been a victim of certain crimes or those who have suffered domestic abuse.

For all of these people, self-sponsorship may be an option. Talk to an immigration attorney at Lotfi Legal if you think self-sponsorship may be your only avenue. 

The EB-1A Visa 

The EB-1A visa is a self-sponsored work visa for people of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, athletics, or business. In other words, it is for those who have risen to the very top of their field. 

To obtain an EB-1A visa, you need to demonstrate your extraordinary ability by providing evidence of a one-time achievement (major internationally-recognized award, like a Nobel Prize or Olympic medal) or evidence to show you meet three out of a list of ten specified criteria. Those criteria include evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to your field; evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications in your field; or evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases, among other things. While this category can sound intimidating, many recent graduates are able to meet the requirements for an EB-1A.

Unlike an H-1B or other employer-sponsored visa, you do not need an offer of employment or a labor certification filed by an employer. Furthermore, the EB-1A is an immigrant visa, meaning that if it is approved, you may then qualify for permanent residency. 

The EB-2 NIW Petition

Another option for self-sponsored immigration is the EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) petition. The EB-2 NIW waives the labor certification requirements of the standard EB-2. You do not need a job offer to apply.

The EB-2 NIW petition has two parts to it. First, the applicant needs to show that they have an advanced degree. Second, the applicant needs to show the following:

  1. Their work has substantial intrinsic merit and is of U.S. national importance,
  2. They are well positioned to advance their proposed endeavor and
  3. On balance, it is in the national interest to waive the labor certification requirement, meaning it is worth it to allow you to stay here even though there might be U.S. workers who can do your job.

Importantly, the EB-2 NIW petition is a second-preference visa, meaning the process may take longer than it does for the EB-1A. Furthermore, it is limited to only those who are of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. As a result, educators and athletes likely will not qualify for EB-2 NIW visas and, therefore, the EB-1A may be a better fit. 

The EB-5 Investment

Another category of E visa is the EB-5, which is for individuals who have about a million dollars available to invest in the U.S. economy. The purpose of the EB-5 program is to boost U.S. economic growth. Depending on the type of investment, the capital requirement may be either $800,000 or $1,050,000. 

U Visas and VAWA Self-Sponsorship 

If you have been the victim of certain crimes in the United States and have aided law enforcement in their investigation, you may be able to self-sponsor for a U visa. The wait for U visas is quite long, but if you’re successful, you can then apply for permanent residence. Not all crimes qualify for a U visa, and the process can be long and complicated and involves multiple government agencies, so it’s important to consult an immigration attorney before moving forward with your petition.

If you or your child have been abused by a U.S. citizen spouse or family member, you may be able to self-sponsor through the Violence Against Women Act, also known as VAWA. Not all abuse is physical. You do not need to have reported your U.S. family member to law enforcement, but you will need to provide some evidence of abuse. If your VAWA self-petition is approved, you may then apply for permanent residence. Whether you qualify for VAWA is highly dependent on the facts of your case, and an experienced immigration attorney can help make sure you’re filing a strong case.

The E Visa

The E category of visas is available to individuals who wish to come to the United States for purposes of trade and commerce under a treaty between the United States and their home country. The two primary types of E visas are as follows: 

  1. E-1 (Treaty traders) – available to those involved in the substantial trade of goods between the United States and their home country. 
  2. E-2 (Treaty investors) is available to individuals who are involved in operating a business or enterprise in which they have invested a significant amount of money. 

Unlike the other categories on this page, these visas are temporary and do not lead to permanent residency.

Lotfi Legal Can Help You Navigate the Self-Sponsored Immigration Process

While it is good to have options, distinguishing one option from another can be challenging and confusing. Making the wrong choice can create lengthy delays. If you are considering immigrating to the United States through self-sponsorship, the best thing to do is consult with one of the experienced immigration attorneys at Lotfi Legal before you submit your petition. We know how to build a strong case in support of your petition in order to maximize your chances of success. To discuss your case and your options, contact us today by phone or email to schedule a consultation.