Foreign nationals of extraordinary ability are eligible to become lawful permanent residents under the employment-based first preference category (EB-1). They do not need a job offer from a U.S. employer, which means that they can self-petition or file the immigrant petition themselves.
Under the EB-1 category there is also no labor certification requirement. Since there is currently no visa backlog, the foreign national as well as his spouse and children do not have to wait long after the approval of the petition before being able to immigrate or receive their green cards. If they are in the U.S., the I-140 petition and I-485 adjustment application may be concurrently filed.
The demand for a EB-1 visa is comparatively low because of the high standard under this category. This is especially true of individuals who want to qualify as aliens of extraordinary ability. Outstanding professors or researchers and certain multinational executives and managers are also eligible for EB-1 classification.
To be an alien of extraordinary ability, one must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and give extensive documentation of his achievements.
Sustained national or international acclaim is best evidenced through a one-time achievement of a major, internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize, an Oscar Award or an Olympic medal. However, it can also be proven by submitting evidence falling under at least three out of the ten regulatory criteria.
These ten criteria are the following: (1) receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence; (2) membership in associations in the field that demand outstanding achievement of their members; (3) published material about the alien in profession or major trade publications or other media; (4) evidence that the alien has been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or in a panel; (5) evidence of original contributions of major significance to the field; (6) authorship of scholarly articles; (7) display of the alien’s work at artistic exhibitions or showcases; (8) evidence of performance in a leading or critical role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation; (9) evidence of high remuneration in relation to others in the field; and (10) evidence of commercial success in the performing arts.
The foreign national may submit other comparable evidence if these criteria do not readily apply to his field of expertise.
In adjudicating EB-1 petitions, USCIS officers will take a two-part approach. The adjudicator will first look at the evidence to count how many evidentiary prongs were met. If at least three of the criteria were met, the adjudicator will find that the self-petitioner or the beneficiary has established the minimum eligibility requirement to qualify as an alien of extraordinary ability and proceed to the next step.
The adjudicator will look at the evidence in totality and find out whether the foreign national meets the required level of expertise for the category. The evidence must show that he has the level of expertise of that small percentage of individuals who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor, and that he has sustained national or international acclaim and his achievements have been recognized in his field of expertise.
Additionally, the foreign national must seek to continue working in the same field of endeavor and that his entry will substantially benefit prospectively the U.S.
Because of its very strict requirements, the EB-1category is certainly not for everyone. But for those who can meet demonstrate eligibility as aliens of extraordinary ability, it offers the one of the fastest routes to permanent residence.