EB-2’s “Exceptional Ability” Sub-Category Explained in Fewer than 1,000 Words

You may be unaware of what makes someone, in the eyes of immigration authorities, a person of “exceptional ability.” You may be wondering because the phrase “exceptional ability” is vague and there are so many terms of art in immigration law.

You may be wondering if you yourself have exceptional ability. Many people, wondering this, decide to outsource, decide to delegate, the analysis to an attorney (smart move!). Others decide to walk into the jungle of immigration law on their own.

What is this fellow (Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker”) thinking about? He could be wondering whether he has “exceptional ability.”

Welllllcome to the jungle, we got … well,  we have a blog post that will look at what exceptional ability is, in the context of the employment-based second category (EB-2) category, a subject relevant to those trying to get permanent residency through by using an EB-2 National Interest Waiver (EB-2 NIW).

Let’s say you have exceptional ability and you can show it, is that enough?

It’s not. The reason it’s not brings us to our first stop in defining who has exceptional ability.

It’s not enough that you have exceptional ability, because you have to have exceptional ability in a specific field. More specifically, you need to have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.

We noted earlier that immigration law has many terms of art. Well, one term of art is … “arts.” And having exceptional ability in sports qualifies as having exceptional ability in the “arts.”

Now, let’s look at what is the “exceptional” part of exceptional ability all about. The exceptional part of exceptional ability requires that you have expertise above that ordinarily encountered in your field. Really, an exceptional person will have expertise significantly above what is normally encountered in their field.

And, to be recognized as a person of exceptional ability, you must show at least three of the following:

  • an official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
  • evidence in the form of letters from current or former employers showing that you have at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
  • a license to practice your profession or certification for your particular profession or occupation
  • evidence that you have commanded a salary or remuneration for services indicative of your claimed exceptional ability relative to others working in the field
  • evidence of your membership in professional associations
  • evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business associations.

USCIS has recognized this list is slanted toward achievement in business, which disadvantages individuals trying to establish exceptional ability in other fields. So, other comparable types of evidence can be submitted to demonstrate exceptional ability in a particular filed if the types enumerated above are not applicable to the field.  

When submitting comparable evidence, you should explain why you have not submitted evidence of the types enumerated above. And you should explain how the evidence you submit is “comparable” to what is enumerated above.

So, there it is. You now know about exceptional ability: to be a person with exceptional ability, you must have expertise–in the arts, sports, sciences, or business–significantly above what is normally encountered in your field, and you must show you meet at least three of the government-specified criteria (or substitutes for that criteria).

 Want to know if you are a person of exceptional ability? Contact us now.