Extraordinary Ability in the Arts, Sciences, Business or Athletics
Individuals eligible for extraordinary ability classification under the employment-based first preference ("EB1-1") are at a tremendous advantage in the green card process. They may skip the labor certification process normally required of their employers. In addition, they do not need a specific offer of future employment.
However, these individuals must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim in the field of endeavor, with clear recognition that they are at the top of their fields. Extensive evidence of original creations, written articles, international press, conference presentations, major awards, receipt of high salary compared to others in the field, selective association memberships, commercial success in the arts, and/or referee work, among other materials, must illustrate the EB11 candidate's stellar credentials. Detailed recommendations from internationally recognized experts also should confirm why the individual is considered one of the best and most unique professionals in his or her field of endeavor. And while EB1-1 individuals do not need a specific offer of employment, they must demonstrate the intent to continue to work in their field, and that doing so would prospectively benefit the U.S.
An immigrant visa petition for a person of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, or athletics must include evidence that the person has sustained national or international acclaim and that his or her achievements have received recognition from others in their field of expertise. Such evidence shall include proof of an extraordinary one-time achievement (a major internationally-recognized award), or at least three of the following:
- Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
- Membership in associations which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts or evidenced by the membership criteria of the association.
- Published material about the applicant in professional publications or major media.
- Evidence of the applicant's participation, either individually or on a panel, as the judge of the work of others.
- Evidence of the applicant's original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance.
- Evidence of the applicant's scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
- Evidence of the display of the applicant's work at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
- Evidence that the applicant has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
- Evidence that the applicant has commanded a high salary or other significant high remuneration.
- Evidence of commercial success in the performing arts as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disc, or video sales.
Neither an offer of employment nor a labor certification is required for this immigrant visa classification. However, the immigrant visa petition must be accompanied by clear evidence that the applicant is coming to the United States to continue to work in his or her area of expertise. Such evidence may include proof of pre-arranged commitments such as contracts or letters from prospective employers; or, a statement from the applicant detailing plans on how he or she intends to continue his or her work in the United States. This visa category is available only to "those who have sustained national acclaim" or have "risen to the top of their field of endeavor."
The EB1-1 criteria are virtually identical to those for the O-1 nonimmigrant visa for individuals of extraordinary ability. However, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regularly enforce the EB1-1 criteria with much more scrutiny than the comparable O-1 category, underscoring the importance for substantial documentation in support of such a case.