The EB1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card (also referred to as EB1-1, or EB1-A) is a permanent visa option for individuals in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics who can demonstrate sustained acclaim at the “very top” of their field of endeavor.
Qualified EB1 candidates can waive both the PERM/labor certification process and the offer of employment requirements for most Employment-Based Green Card petitions. EB1 petitions (Employment-Based 1st Preference) have priority over all other types of Employment-Based Green Card petitions, which means that they are first in line in the annual quota system for green cards. The EB1 Extraordinary Ability category does not require sponsorship by a US employer.
The O-1 visa is a temporary alternative option for individuals who can demonstrate, in accordance with O-1 regulations, extraordinary ability in business, education, science or athletics; distinction in the arts; or extraordinary achievement in television or motion pictures. However, the O-1 visa requires sponsorship by a US employer or agent, and is valid for periods of one to three years.
Basic requirements for the EB1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card are:
According to the EB1 immigration regulations, extraordinary ability is a level of expertise indicating that the candidate is one of a small percentage who have risen to the very top of a particular field. Generally, extensive documentation is required to establish eligibility for the EB1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card. This may include evidence of a major one-time achievement (e.g., an internationally recognized award such as the Nobel Prize, Oscar, Grammy or Emmy), or at least 3 of the following factors demonstrating that the EB1 candidate has made significant contributions to his or her area of expertise. If the EB1 Extraordinary Ability regulatory factors do not apply to a candidate’s particular area of expertise, s/he may present alternate evidence.
In cases of scientists or academics who apply for the EB1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card, USCIS relies heavily on publications and their impact in the field. Generally, USCIS is looking for more than a handful of publications, unless publication is not customary in the EB1 candidate’s particular field. Preferably, if relevant to the EB1 candidate’s area of expertise, publications should be in prestigious journals with international circulation. In addition, USCIS considers independent citations of an EB1 candidate’s publications to be a strong indicator of impact and of the candidate’s stature in her field.
Quantity of evidence is not necessarily critical in an EB1 Extraordinary Ability petition, though it can strongly suggest major impact if combined with quality, circulation and prestige of journals, and/or demonstrable influence of publications on peers in the field and/or on the field as a whole.
When evaluating a EB1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card petition, USCIS does not give substantial consideration to awards, fellowships or other honors received at a student level, although some prestigious awards may have some limited influence. Nor will USCIS give significant weight to student publications by or about the EB1 candidate. Patents will be given substantial weight only if a patent has actually been granted (a patent that is pending carries little to no weight), and only if the EB1 candidate can show that the patented item has had a significant impact on the field and/or has been adopted commercially on a widespread basis.
Letters from recognized experts in the EB1 candidate’s field can be extremely important in an EB1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card petition. Therefore, it is important to choose letter writers carefully. USCIS looks for a mix of experts to comment on an EB1 Extraordinary Ability case, including “objective” letter writers who may not know the EB1 candidate personally, but who may know of his/her work due to its prominence; letter writers who are not in the EB1 candidate’s immediate professional circles; and those who have worked directly with the candidate.