EB-1(a) for Extraordinary Abilities
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EB-1(a) for Extraordinary Abilities

The EB-1(a) green card is for aliens of extraordinary ability engaged in the arts, sciences, business, education or athletics. Extraordinary ability means a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who has risen to the top of his or her field of endeavor. To be considered as an alien with extraordinary ability, the alien must have sustained national or international acclaim in the field of science, art, education, business or athletics, which must be recognized in the form of extensive documentation.  The alien must be seeking to enter the United States to continue work in the field of expertise, and the entry of such alien must substantially benefit prospectively the United States.

Neither job offer nor certified permanent labor certification is required.

An EB-1(a) petition may be filed simultaneously with another green card application. One petition may be approved faster than the other and can offer additional protection if one petition should be denied while another is approved.

In order to qualify for the EB-1(a), the applicant must have won a one-time major achievement, such as a Nobel Prize, a medal from the Olympics or the World Championships, OR show documentation of any three of the following:

  1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence;
  • Academic awards to students are generally ignored
  • Nomination for an award does not carry as much weight as winning
  1. Membership in associations in the field that demand outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
  2. Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications;
  3. Evidence that the alien is a judge of the work of others in the field;
  4. Evidence of the alien’s original contributions of major significance to the field;
  5. Authorship of scholarly articles;
  6. Display of the alien’s work at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  7. Evidence the alien has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation;
  8. Evidence that the alien commands a high salary in relation to others in the field; or
  9. Evidence of commercial success in the performing arts.

An applicant may also submit “comparable evidence” if the above standards do not readily apply.

The approval of an O-1 petition does not compel the USCIS to approve an EB-1(a) petition because the standard for EB-1(a) is higher than the O-1 standard.

In response to the Kazarian decision by the 9th Circuit Court in 2010, the USCIS applies a two-part analysis in the evaluation of EB-1(a) qualification: i.e., the case passing successfully through the above 3 out of 10 criteria test (this is Part 1), is subject to the so-called “final merits determination” which means the step of evaluating all of the submitted evidence together to see the alien have a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the field of specialty.  In making this determination, the quality of each of the alien’s achievements is also considered significantly.


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