New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Green Card Based on Extraordinary Ability (EB 1A)

Author: Green Card Attorney Alena Shautsova

A person who can demonstrate an extraordinary ability in some fields, may sponsor him or herself for the permanent residence in the US without an employer’s petition. The fields are the following:

  • Sciences
  • Arts
  • Education
  • Business
  • Athletics

An extraordinary ability is defined as

a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavour.
8 CFR 204.5(h)(2). Please note that "an extraordinary ability" is even more restrictive than "an exceptional ability" necessary for an O-1 beneficiary.

For persons who qualify for the extraordinary ability’s green card, it is not necessary to have a job offer in the US, but the beneficiary must intend to enter the US to continue working in their field, and their entry must prospectively and substantially benefit the US.

The documents necessary for the petition are:

  • Resume
  • Proof of prizes, awards, media reports, published works, citations, etc.
  • Letters of endorsement from the experts in the field

How can one demonstrate that he or she possesses the necessary extraordinary ability? One should present evidence that he or she has sustained national or international acclaim and that his or her achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise. In addition, the achievement s must be recent ones, so there is no interruption in the flow of success. This can be accomplished by showing a one time achievement of a major, internationally recognized award (an Olympic medal, for example), or by satisfying at least three of the ten criteria for evidence of sustained national or international acclaim listed in the regulations.

The government issued a guidance according to which there is a sufficient level of international or national acclaim when the petitioner is included in the top 15% or 20% achievers in his or her field. There also should be an explanation as to how the petitioner’s achievement advanced the filed itself.

Examples of one time achievements:

The Nobel Prize; Pulitzer Prize, an Olympic Medal; Academy Award. If a person participated in a team sport, the team should be the one that won a national championship. The person must be a key player.

There also exist other ways to qualify for the EB1A extraordinary ability visa:

The evidence must clearly demonstrate that the petitioner has achieved sustained national or international acclaim and is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

For example: a medal in a competition on the national level. However, the achievement cannot be merely local, regional or provincial in nature. As such, awards in junior athletic or music competitions are not probative of extraordinary ability.

The number of recipients and hardship of obtaining the awards play one of the most important ways of evaluating its significance by the USCIS.

In addition, the USCIS may take into consideration the following:

  • Membership in associations in the field that demand outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
  • Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications;
  • Evidence that the alien is a judge of the work of others in the field;
  • Evidence of the alien’s original contributions of major significance to the field;
  • Authorship of scholarly articles;
  • Display of the alien’s work at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  • Evidence the alien has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation;
  • Evidence that the alien commands a high salary in relation to others in the field; or
  • Evidence of commercial success in the performing arts.

If you have questions regarding the EB 1A category, please call Law office of Alena Shautsova at 917-885-2261.

07 March 2014
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