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 and the offer of employment 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. This 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 visa option for individuals who can show, 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. It is valid for one to three years at a time.
Basic requirements for the EB1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card are:
According to the EB1 regulations, “extraordinary ability” means the candidate is one of a small percentage who have risen to the very top of a particular field. Generally, EB1 petitions require considerable evidence. Evidence of a major one-time achievement (e.g., an internationally recognized award such as the Nobel Prize, Oscar, Grammy or Emmy) establishes eligibility. In the absence of that, the candidate must meet at least 3 of the factors below. The petition should show that the EB1 candidate has made significant contributions to the area of expertise. Finally, if the EB1 Extraordinary Ability factors do not apply to the area of expertise, the candidate may present alternate evidence.
In cases of scientists or academics, 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 field. Publications in prestigious journals with international circulation carry more weight. 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.
Quantity of evidence is not necessarily critical. But it can suggest an EB1 candidate’s major impact in the field. 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 may be important factors.
USCIS does not give substantial consideration to student awards, fellowships or other honors. But some prestigious student awards or honors may have some limited influence. Student publications by or about the EB1 candidate also carry little weight. Patents have substantial importance only if granted, and if they have a significant impact and/or have been adopted on a widespread basis. A patent pending carries little to no weight.
Letters from recognized experts in the EB1 candidate’s field can be extremely important. USCIS looks for a mix of experts to comment on an EB1 Extraordinary Ability case. This may include “objective” experts who may not know the EB1 candidate personally, but who may know of his/her work due to its prominence; experts who are not in the EB1 candidate’s immediate professional circles; and experts who have worked directly with the candidate.