The EB-1A visa is federally issued visa intended to provide permanent legal resident status to people who have extraordinary abilities in five categories:
- The Arts
For those who qualify, the EB-1A visa is a desirable option because it is a first-preference visa and no offer of employment is required. However, the standard is strict, and the “extraordinary” qualification is demanding. Those seeking to immigrate to the United States on an EB-1A visa must be able to show significant accomplishment and recognition in their fields.
Since no offer of employment is required, the individual seeking an EB-1A visa petitions on his or her own behalf. Understanding exactly what is expected from an applicant for an EB-1A visa can greatly reduce the stress associated with the process, streamline the effort required to put together an effective application, and increase the likelihood of approval.
O-1 and O-2 visas are granted based on qualifications virtually identical to those required to obtain an EB-1A visa, with one exception: the petition for an O visa must be filed by a U.S. employer. Unlike the EB-1A visa, which is an immigrant visa, the O-1 and O-2 visas are temporary work visas, issued for an initial period of up to three years. They are, however, renewable for an unlimited number of one-year periods.
Establishing Extraordinary Ability
The extraordinary ability standard requires that the applicant demonstrate either a one-time extraordinary achievement at the international level or satisfy at least three of 10 listed criteria. Some qualifying one-time achievements include:
- A Nobel Prize
- An Oscar
- A Pulitzer Prize
- An Olympic Medal
Of course, most people have not garnered awards at that level,even among those with extraordinary abilities. An applicant may also qualify by demonstrating any three of the following:
- Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
- Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
- Published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- A history of having been selected to judge the work of others
- Original contributions of major significance to your field
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Display of your work at artistic exhibitions or showcases
- Performance of a key role in distinguished organizations
- Ability to command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
- Commercial successes in the performing arts
Submitting Evidence of Extraordinary Ability
As with any visa petition, the burden is entirely on the petitioner to prove that he or she meets the criteria–in this case, either one extraordinary internationally-recognized award or three of the ten items listed above. That evidence must collectively show that the petitioner is “one of the small percentage of individuals at the very top of their field.”
Even when the applicant is the winner of an internationally recognized award, detailed information must be submitted, such as:
- Award criteria
- Significance of the award in your field
- Reputation of the granting party
- The number of awardees and breadth of eligible competitors
- A petitioner seeking to demonstrate that he or she fulfills at least three of the listed criteria should specifically identify the relevant criteria and provide clearly designated supporting evidence for each.
- This evidence should be more detailed than simply submitting a copy of a published article or an article about the petitioner, a program from an art exhibit or a playbill. For example, other relevant information about a published article might include the circulation of the publication, the reputation of the publication in the petitioner’s field and any other information to support the significance of the publication.
Submitting a Strong EB-1A Petition and Documentation
Simply meeting the criteria for an EB-1A visa isn’t enough. You must be able to clearly and effectively demonstrate your qualifications to the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). An incomplete or poorly documented petition may result in a request for additional evidence, or even a denial, although the petitioner actually fulfilled the requirements to receive a visa.
Each of the 10 possible qualifying achievements requires a different type of supporting evidence, and it can be difficult to determine which criteria to select and document. The immigration attorneys in our office have the knowledge and experience to help you choose the right criteria and put together a strong petition and supporting documentation.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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