Green Cards for Athletes, Scholars, and Scientists
Each visa type has its own qualifications and permissions, but in many cases, obtaining a visa in one of these three categories is the fastest way for accomplished athletes, scholars, or artists to obtain a green card without an employer sponsor. Of course, every case is different, and not everyone qualifies. For general information about priority visa types, read over FAQs on Extraordinary Ability (EB1-A), Outstanding Researcher (EB1-B), and National Interest Waiver (NIW)-based green cards.
For information on applying for a green card without employer sponsorship please see this article: Overview: Applying for a Green Card Without an Employer Sponsor
Some accomplished individuals may have extraordinary ability in arts, science, or athletics but are not qualified for a permanent visa. For some of these people, the O-1 employment visa may be a welcome temporary visa option.