Employment-Based Immigration: First Preference – Extraordinary Ability
You must be able to demonstrate an extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation. No offer of employment is necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Criteria for Demonstrating Extraordinary Ability?
An individual must show either a one time achievement (such as a receipt of a major internationally recognized award of the caliber of the Nobel Prize or an Olympic Medal) or more commonly meet at least 3 of the following criteria:
- Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
- Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members.
- Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
- Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel.
- Evidence that you have been asked to judge for others, either individually or on a panel.
- Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business related contributions of major significance to the field.
- Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
- Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
- Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.
- Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly remuneration in relation to others in the field.
- Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts.
USCIS may also accept additional types of documentation if the above mentioned factors do not readily apply to the individual’s field of expertise.
Does EB-1A require a job offer or labor certification?
EB-1A doesn’t require a job offer or labor certification but bear in mind that the standards for this particular category are very high. It is purposely designed for individuals who are at the very top of their field.
Is this category open to any field of work?
While USCIS regulations specifically list fields of endeavors in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, they have exercised broad interpretations of how specific occupations fit into these fields.
What type of evidence is required?
Evidence required will depend on the field that the applicant is in and the criteria that he or she is attempting to meet. Generally, however, it is essential that all claims are supported by hard, documentary evidence, such as hard copies of published articles, reception by others in the fields, etc.. Each item should help demonstrate that the individual has a sustained national or international reputation.
All petitions must be supported by letters from peers and colleagues in the individual’s field of expertise, including independent references who have never worked with the applicant. Independent letters help substantiate the claim that an individual is known outside of his or her circle of collaborators.
How long does case processing take?
Approval of an Extraordinary Ability petition, filed with USCIS is currently taking at least 5 to 8 months from the date that the initial petition is submitted to the USCIS. Please note that processing times may vary depending on the number of cases being filed and administrative delays at USCIS service centers. You are able to track the processing times and current status of your case at the USCIS website.
USCIS does offer an expedited service known as “premium processing” for employment based petitions. Premium Processing requires an additional fee of $1440, and in return the USCIS will make an initial decision on the case in 15 days. If USCIS makes a request for additional evidence, a final decision will be made within 15 days of filing the additional evidence.
**Note: A petition can be upgraded to Premium processing at any time, even if it was not originally filed with the $1440 fee.
What is needed to apply?
You may self-petition or have an employer file on your behalf by filing Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker