What Is Needed to Qualify for an EB-1 Extraordinary-Ability Green Card

Some noncitizens may become green card holders on the strength of their extraordinary ability. Many noncitizens who have achieved great professional success wonder if it is worth a try to knock on the door of the extraordinary-ability Green Card.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires that USCIS give priority, for employment-based visas, to certain classes of immigrants, including—at the front of the line—noncitizens with extraordinary ability. The INA requires that

  1. the noncitizen has extraordinaryability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation,
  2. the noncitizen seeks to enter the United States to continue work in the area of his or her extraordinaryability, and
  3. the noncitizen’s entry into the United States will substantially benefit the United States.

The Code of Federal Regulations defines “extraordinary ability.” “Extraordinary ability” is “a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”

A noncitizen may, in two ways, prove sustained acclaim or recognition. First, the noncitizen may establish this by showing that he or she has received a major, internationally-recognized prize or award. The Nobel Prize is an example of such prize or award. Second, the noncitizen may establish sustained acclaim/recognition by providing at least three of the following:

  1. Documentation that the noncitizen has received a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the noncitizen’s field of endeavor. For example, a bull rider wins the rookie of the year in a bull riding league in Brazil.
  2. Documentation of the alien’s membership in associations in the field, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their fields.
  3. published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications or other major media, relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought.
  4. Evidence of the alien’s participation as a judge of the work of others in the field of in certain related fields.
  5. Evidence of the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field.
  6. Evidence of the alien’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  7. Evidence of the display of the alien’s work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  8. Evidence that the alien has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
  9. Evidence that the alien has commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, in relation to others in the field.
  10. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.

However, a noncitizen should not believe that he will receive a Green Card as an alien with extraordinary ability if he can meet three (or more) of the ten evidentiary criteria. If the noncitizen meets three of the ten evidentiary criteria, then USCIS will determine whether the evidence demonstrates both (1) a “level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the[ir] field of endeavor,” and (2) “that the alien has sustained national or international acclaim and that his or her achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise.”