EB-1a: Alien of Extraordinary ability

To be eligible, this occupational category has the following requirements that must be met :

The applicant must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation. No offer of employment is required.

In some cases, a one time achievement is sufficient to prove up the case. For example, Noble Prize or Pulitzer winner, Olympic gold, silver or bronze medalist, Oscar winner, or Grammy winner.

In absence of the significant one-time achievement, an applicant can also establish a strong case by providing documents to prove 3 of the following 10 criteria :

  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.  
  • Evidence of membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts.
  • Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or major media.
  • Evidence of participation on a panel or individually as a judge evaluating the work of others.
  • Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, athletic, artistic or business related contributions of major significance to the field.
  • Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals, major trade publications or other major media.
  • Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases .
  • Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role within an organization or establishment with a distinguished reputation.
  • Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.
  • Evidence of your commercial success in performing arts, shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, video, or DVD sales figures.

To document the evidence, the applicant needs to submit more than the prize, membership certificate, media report, reviewing report, publication, exhibition brochure, employment letter, w2, and box office receipts.

For the award category, in addition to the award certificate, the applicant needs to provide documentary proof of the criteria to prove the acclaim of the prize and awards. In some cases, the applicant also needs to include the organizer and the geographic location from which the awards was drawn. Also provide media coverage received by the awards if there is any.

For the membership category, in addition to the membership certificate, the applicant needs to submit clear documentary evidence of the membership criteria. A membership with only a fee requirement carries no merit. In order to satisfy this criterion, the membership should require outstanding achievement as a prerequisite. For example, some membership requires certain degree, publication record, recommendation letters which can be proven by the organizational bylaws.

For the media report category, in addition to the media report itself, the applicant needs to submit clear documentary evidence of the significance of the media itself – for example, the readership, distribution and contribution communities of the media. If the media have carried articles about nationally or internationally renowned individuals, submit those articles. Moreover, the media report about the applicant’s work must clearly indicate that the work is significant. An unevaluated listing in a subject matter index or footnote, or a reference to the work without evaluation is insufficient.

For the reviewer category, having performed as a judge, reviewer, editor or in any other capacity that requires the applicant to judge the work of others can satisfy this requirement. For example, if the applicant works for an oil and gas company, and had served on a review panel, this criterion can be established. Media articles can prove this review work as well.

For the contribution of major significance category, normally the applicant needs to submit recommendation letters to prove this. The referee has to be working in the same area as the applicant. Professors, colleagues, editors with established track record are good referee candidates. Researchers from national laboratory, or from the public office are also good referee candidates. Independent referees are very important. Independent referees are those outside of the applicant’s circle of colleagues and acquaintances. The USCIS believes that independent referees are more impartial because they are not doing the applicant a personal favor.

If the applicant’s invention has been implemented, or if others gained national or international renown in this field based on the applicant’s skills, it proves that the applicant has influence and been accepted by his/her peers in the field.

For the publication category, in addition to the publication itself, citation record is also very important. The applicant does not need to provide the full article of all the citations. Submit copies of citation indexes, showing the number of citations, and the titles of articles in which the applicant’s work were cited.

For the exhibition category, in addition to the pictures and brochures, the applicant also need to submit evidence that the exhibition is of national or international renown. Attendance and media coverage received by those events are needed to prove that. Also submit documentary evidence that renowned individuals at the top of the applicant’s field participated in the exhibition.

For the leading role category, the applicant needs to include documentary proof, such as copies of media reports, demonstrating the participation and exact role for the organizations and establishments. The selection process of the leading role is helpful to prove it up. For example, if the applicant works for an oil and gas company, and is in a managerial position in charge of a professional team, the applicant can elaborate the selection process and provide an organizational chart to prove this category.

For the wage category, in addition to the tax returns, w2s, pay stubs and employment verifications, the applicant needs to provide evidence of the normal or usual level of his peers’ compensation.

For the commercial success category, the applicant needs to provide box office receipts, record sales and video sales, etc. 

All documents need to be translated into English.

Most of the employment based immigration categories require an employer sponsorship. EB1a does not need the employer’s sponsorship.

EB1a also avoids the labor certification procedure, which is a lengthy and complicated process.