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EB-1 Visa Requirements

The EB-1 category includes aliens of �extraordinary ability� in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. This ability must be demonstrated through sustained national or international acclaim and the alien must have achievements recognized in the field through extensive documentation. In addition, the alien�s presence in the United States must substantially benefit prospectively the United States.

�Extraordinary ability� surpasses any standard previously used by the Immigration Service and in particular, is a higher standard than �exceptional ability�. �Extraordinary ability� is defined as a �level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of those few who have risen to the top of the field of endeavor�.

Extraordinary Ability (Arts, Science, Entertainment):
There are two ways to satisfy the requirements for an EB-1 visa for extraordinary ability. 1) receipt of a major, internationally recognized award (such as Nobel Prize, or Academy Award); 2) fulfillment of at least three (3) of the following standards:

  • Receipt of a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prize for achievement in your field. This could include a medical fellowship, a Fulbright award, or a Caldecott award.
  • Membership in associations in your field that require "outstanding achievement" of their members. This standard is relatively vague. Associations that are open to all members of a given profession can be considered, but associations that limit membership to only the most accomplished members of the profession are certainly more valuable.
  • Material published about you in major trade publications or other major media. The material must concern your work in the field. Publications could range from journals specific to your field, like The Journal of Otolaryngology, to major newspapers, like The New York Times. You are not limited to print; a story about you on "60 Minutes" might also fulfill this requirement.
  • Serving as a judge of others in your field either individually or on a panel. Sitting on the Nobel Prize Committee would fulfill the requirement, as would participating in the peer review process of a scientific article or acting as a member of a thesis review committee.
  • Original, scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in your field. This standard is wide open. Basically, USCIS will base its judgment of your contribution on the letters of support that others in the field submit. So letters from recognized authorities in your field who consider your contributions original and significant will satisfy this requirement.
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in your field. This refers to articles that you wrote concerning your work rather than material written about you by others, as is the case with standard 3 above. Again, the publications can range from major trade journals to mass media. Although the regulations refer specifically to "articles," other forms of publication such as visual media should fulfill this requirement.
  • Display of your work in exhibitions or showcases. The regulations do not mention how prestigious the exhibition must be.
  • Performing a critical or leading role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation. This could be acting as curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art or serving as an essential researcher for an important laboratory.
  • Commanding a high salary in your field.
  • Commercial success in the performing arts. This can be demonstrated by box office receipts from your films or plays, sales of your record, or selling your video documentary to a network for a notable sum. Satisfying three out of the ten criteria does not guarantee that USCIS will grant you EB-1 classification as an alien of extraordinary ability. USCIS looks for quality as well as quantity. As in so many other aspects of immigration law, comprehensive documentation of your qualifications is very important.

EB-1 Visa Category: Outstanding Professor or Researcher

For most individuals who will immigrate by way of a job offer, a permanent job offer is needed as well as an approved labor certification from the Department of Labor. However, certain individuals, such as outstanding professors or researchers are given priority in processing. Individuals who qualify are allowed to bypass the labor certification process, and visas are immediately available for them. An outstanding professor or researcher is defined as follows:

  • Is recognized internationally (and meets 2 of 6 criteria as outlined below)
  • Has at least three years of experience (teaching and/or research)
  • Has job offer letter from university or "accomplished" firm

The following information details the requirements to be considered "outstanding" and lists the documents that will be required by INS.

International Recognition

An outstanding professor or researcher must be recognized internationally in his/her academic field. INS defines someone as internationally recognized if they can provide documents in two of the following areas:

  • Prizes or awards. Documentation of the alien's receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field
  • Membership in elite associations. Documentation of the alien's membership in associations in the academic field which require outstanding achievements of their members
  • Articles written by others re: alien. Published material in professional publications written by others about the alien's work in the academic field. Such material shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation
  • Evidence of participation in review of others. Evidence of the alien's participation, either individually or on a panel, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied academic field
  • Original research or contribution. Evidence of the alien's original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field
  • Books or articles. Evidence of the alien's authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the academic field

Three Years of Experience

An outstanding professor or researcher must also provide evidence of at least three years of experience in teaching and/or research in the academic field. Experience in teaching or research while working on an advanced degree will only be acceptable if the degree has been acquired; also, teaching duties must have been such that he or she had full responsibility for the class taught, and any research conducted toward the degree must have been recognized within the academic field as outstanding. Evidence of teaching and/or research experience shall be in the form of:

  • Letter(s) from current or former employer(s): The letter must include the name, address, and title of the writer, and a specific description of the duties performed.

Offer of Employment

An outstanding professor or researcher must also have an offer of employment from a prospective United States employer as follows:

  • Letter from a U.S. university or institution of higher learning offering a tenured or tenure-track teaching position or a permanent research position in the individual's academic field
  • Letter from a department, division, or institute of a private employer offering a permanent research position in the individual's academic field. The department, division, or institute must demonstrate that it employs at least three full-time researchers and that it has achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.

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