O-1 visas are temporary nonimmigrant visas available for highly acclaimed, extraordinary individuals in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.
EB-1, Extraordinary Ability
In order to apply for permanent residency as an "alien of extraordinary ability", an applicant must show that they have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. In so doing, an applicant must demonstrate through extensive documentation that they possess sustained national or international acclaim and achievements, and are one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor. Although this may sound daunting, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) utilizes objective criteria in evaluating whether an applicant meets this standard for success.
A critical advantage to qualifying as an individual of extraordinary ability is that neither a job offer nor a labor certification is required. Instead, Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, is filed as a self-petition with the USCIS center that has jurisdiction over the place where the applicant intends to work. Upon approval of the I-140 petition, the applicant will be eligible to become a permanent resident.
Criteria used to establish "extraordinary ability"
As a preliminary matter, if the applicant has received a major, international award (i.e., a Nobel prize), the applicant will automatically qualify for EB-1 status based on this singular achievement.
However, if the applicant has not achieved such an award, the applicant must produce a minimum of three (3) of the following types of evidence to establish that they are one of that small percentage who have risen to the top of their field of expertise. This evidence includes:
- Documentation of receipt of a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prize or award for excellence in the applicant's field;
- Documentation of membership in associations in the applicant's field that demand outstanding achievements of their members;
- Evidence of published material about the applicant, in trade publications or media;
- Evidence that the applicant has judged the work of others in the field;
- Evidence of the applicant's original contributions of major significance to the field;
- Evidence of the applicant’s authorship of scholarly articles;
- Evidence that the applicant's work has been displayed at exhibitions or showcases;
- Evidence that the applicant has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation;
- Evidence that the applicant has commanded high remuneration in relation to others in the field; or
- Evidence of the applicant's commercial success in the performing arts.
If the above standards do not readily apply to the applicant's field of extraordinary ability, the applicant may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility. Furthermore, in addition to the above, the applicant must submit clear and convincing evidence that they are coming to the United States (or will remain in the U.S.) to work in their area of expertise.