How EB-1 Cases and USCIS’ Administrative Appeals Office Intermingle

The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) has issued several decisions disclosing current adjudicative standards applied in EB-1 extraordinary ability cases. Especially relevant are the AAO findings relating to the criteria in the USCIS regulations. Under current rules, someone seeking EB-1 status as extraordinary ability individuals must meet at least three of the 10 regulatory criteria to establish sustained national or international acclaim. AAO precedential decisions related to the EB-1 preference category often shed light on one or more of these ten criteria.

EB-1 petitions denied by a USCIS adjudicator can be appealed to the AAO. In between October and December 2018 (FY2019’s first quarter), the AAO decided 91 cases of EB-1 petition denials.

The AAO may issue “non-precedent” decisions, which apply existing law and policy to the facts of a case.

The AAO may also issue “precedent” decisions, to provide clear and uniform guidance to adjudicators and the public on the proper interpretation of law and policy. These precedent decisions must be followed by USCIS employees, except to the extent that the precedent decisions are modified or overruled by later precedent decisions, statutory changes, or regulatory changes.