Permanent Residence for Extraordinary Ability Foreign Nationals

"Extraordinary ability" foreign nationals fall under the first preference employment-based immigrant visa category (EB-1). The category is reserved for those who have demonstrated extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, or athletics. The standard of proof is high, with the USCIS defining extraordinary ability aliens as in that small percentage who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor, as proven by “sustained national or international acclaim" and that their achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise.

A foreign national may self-petition under this category because no offer of employment is required for individuals demonstrating extraordinary ability – as long as he/she can demonstrate that they will continue to work in the same field. A foreign national may qualify as an extraordinary ability foreign national by demonstrating a one-time achievement (such as receipt of a major, international recognized award). An example of this type of one-time achievement includes receipt of the Nobel Prize or an Academy Award. More commonly, one may demonstrate extraordinary ability qualification on the basis of a career of acclaimed work in the field of endeavor. The USCIS considers the following types of evidence – of which the foreign national must include at least three – in evaluating whether an individual qualifies under the extraordinary ability category:

  • Documentation of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor.
  • Documentation of membership in associations in the field of endeavor that require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the same field.
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien that relates to the alien's work in the field of endeavor (material must include title, date, author, and be translated if not published in English).
  • Evidence of participation, on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization.
  • Evidence of original scientific, scholarly, or artistic contributions of major significance in the field of endeavor.
  • Evidence of the authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals or other major media.
  • Evidence of the display of his or her work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases in more than one country.
  • Evidence of performance in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations
  • Evidence of having commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others
  • Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.

The rules also allow other comparable evidence to be submitted if the above types of evidence do not readily apply to the alien's occupation.

While the extraordinary ability category is often associated with artists, performers and athletes, Goel & Anderson has also had unusual success with extraordinary ability petitions on behalf of business people.