EB-1A Extraordinary Ability


This immigrant visa or “green card” category allows for a self-petitioner or an employer to file a USCIS Form I-140 immigrant petition to sponsor an international worker who can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the arts, athletics, business, education, or sciences through sustained international or national acclaim.

A substantial amount of evidentiary documentation (i.e. often hundreds if not thousands of pages) must be submitted to prove achievements and that the beneficiary will continue work in the area of expertise.

Successful beneficiaries must prove their receipt of one-time achievement such as a Grammy, Oscar, Olympic Medal, or Pulitzer or, more commonly as receipt of these awards is uncommon, meet three (3) or more of the ten (10) criteria below:

  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  • Commercial successes in the performing arts
  • Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
  • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
  • Performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
  • Published material about the international worker in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  • The international worker has been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  • Work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases

USCIS also applies a wholistic review of the case to assess whether the applicant is truly “extraordinary,” even where all of the above elements appear to be met. In certain cases, the O-1 nonimmigrant visa may be argued as a stepping stone to EB-1A qualification when USCIS has previously issued a nonimmigrant approval of “extraordinary,” although the scrutiny is significantly higher for EB-1A.

Merit-based immigration cases are among the most complex area within U.S. immigration law with a higher chance of denial, so it’s important to work with an experienced business immigration attorney.

The above is informational and not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with an experienced business immigration attorney on your specific facts and circumstances before proceeding with any U.S. immigration strategy.