Extraordinary Ability

The Immigration Act of 1990 created a new immigrant category for aliens of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. This category does not require a Labor Certification and sidesteps completely the issue of availability of U.S. workers. Moreover, unlike virtually all other employment-based immigration options, a specific job offer from a U.S. employer is not required. Extraordinary ability means 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. In order to qualify the applicant must furnish evidence to show that he has sustained national or international acclaim and that his achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise. Extraordinary Ability may be demonstrated either by evidence of a one-time achievement (such as a major, internationally recognized award), or evidence of at least three of the following:

  • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  • Membership in associations which require outstanding achievement of their members
  • Published material about the applicant relating to the applicant’s work in the field for which classification is ought
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of other in the field of specialization
  • Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in the field
  • Evidence that the applicant has commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services in relation to others in the field
  • Evidence that the applicant has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation

(note: BCIS regulations provide additional criteria which are unique for artists or performers: evidence of display of the applicant’s work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases). If the above standards do not readily apply to the applicant’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence to establish eligibility.

List of Documents Required for Extraordinary Ability Petition

  • A brief (2-3 page) narrative summary of your education, training, and work experience highlighting your significant research interests and accomplishments. This information will be incorporated in the draft of the principal supporting letter which we will ask your supervisor or faculty sponsor to sign.
  • A brief description of the activities of the department or division in which you are conducting research, including such information as number of faculty, amount and source of funding, principal research accomplishments and focus
  • Copy of Curriculum Vitae, including a list of publications
  • Copies of several of your publications
  • Copies of all advanced degree diplomas or certificates
  • Copies of any relevant documents such as the following: invitations to speak at meetings or review articles for publication, memberships in professional associations, patent information, confirmation of receipt of awards, honors, or scholarships, citation listings for your publications from professional indexes, and any magazine or newsletter articles which mention you or your work.
  • Supporting letters from experts both inside and outside the U.S. in accordance with the guidelines provided
  • Copies of passport and H-1 or J-1 visa documentation
  • Copies of birth and marriage records (if applicable)
  • Translations of any foreign language documents