New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

EB1 Extraordinary Ability: Self-Petition For A Green Card

Author: US Green Card lawyer Alena Shautsova

Many are aware that to immigrate to the USA or to stay in the USA, one needs to be sponsored by a US citizen spouse or a 21 years- old US citizen child, or an employer. There is also an investment option that requires substantial capital to be put into the US economy. However, it is possible to sponsor yourself as well (and your family members) if you qualify for it, of course. Years ago, the US government adopted regulations that allow the most talented, knowledgeable and experienced people to come and stay in the US. This path is known as EB1 1 category. It may be used for musicians, consultants, researchers, inventors, actors, writers, professors, etc. There is no limitation on who may or may not use this category.

What many are not aware of, is that it is in fact a very realistic opportunity. You do not have to be a Nobel prize winner (this, of course, would make your application process much easier) to self-petition. In fact, to qualify for this option, a person has to successfully pass these steps.

Step No. 1: meet 3 out of 10 criteria:

Arrows in goalPursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(1)(A), aliens may apply for a visa on the basis of “extraordinary ability.” An alien can prove an extraordinary ability in one of two ways. The first is “evidence of a one-time achievement (that is, a major, international recognized award).” 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(h)(3). The second way to prove extraordinary ability is to provide evidence of at least three of the following: (i) Documentation of the alien’s receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
(ii) Documentation of the alien’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
(iii) Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications or other major media, relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought. Such evidence shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation;
(iv) Evidence of the alien’s participation, either individually or on a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specification for which classification is sought;
(v) Evidence of the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
(vi) Evidence of the alien’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
(vii) Evidence of the display of the alien’s work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
(viii) Evidence that the alien has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
(ix) Evidence that the alien has commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, in relation to others in the field; or
(x) Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.

8 C.F.R. § 204.5(h)(3).

Step No. 2:

Applespresent evidence that demonstrates both a “level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the[ir] field of endeavor,” 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(h)(2), and “that the alien has sustained national or international acclaim and that his or her achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise.” 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(h)(3). Only aliens whose achievements have garnered “sustained national or international acclaim” are eligible for an “extraordinary ability” visa. 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(1)(A)(i). How exactly talented you need to be? Do you have to be in 1%? 5%? Actually, USCIS states you need to be in top 15-20%!

Step No. 3:


argue that the US will benefit from your permanent residence here.

With help of an experienced attorney, it is possible to prove the points above and win one’s case. Do not confuse EB1 1 with an O visa, however. An O visa is a temporary solution, and is suitable for talented people with a much lower standard of proof.

If you would like to see if you can qualify for EB1 1, contact us at or book an appointment at

24 June 2017
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