The employment-based immigrant visa system is divided into five preference categories. The first category is called the EB-1 category and has three basic subcategories - extraordinary ability applicants, multinational executives or managers, and outstanding researchers or professors. 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based visas are allotted to this category. This article deals with the first of the three EB-1 subcategories.
The Extraordinary Ability category is open to aliens with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics who have been able to demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievement have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation. The applicant must also state that his or her entry will substantially benefit prospectively the US (though the INS rarely seeks evidence of this criteria. The legislative history notes that applicants should show that they have reached "the small percentage of individuals who have risen to the top of their field of endeavor."
Unlike other employment-based immigrant visa categories, the alien does not need to have an offer of employment. But the application does need to document that he or she intends to pursue work in the US in his or her area of expertise.
To demonstrate "sustained or international acclaim" and the recognition of the applicant's work, the applicant must submit evidence of a one-time achievement such as a major international award (Nobel Prize, Academy Award, etc.) or three OR MORE of the following:
- receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards.
- membership in association in the field for which classification is
- sought, which requires outstanding achievement of their members, as judged
- by recognized national or international experts.
- published material about the person in professional or major trade
- publications or other major media.
- participation as a judge of the work of others.
- evidence of original scientific, scholastic, artistic, athletic or
- business-related contributions of major significance.
- authorship of scholarly articles in the field.
- artistic exhibitions or showcases
- performance in a leading or cultural role for organizations or
- establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
- high salary or remuneration in relation to others in the field.
- commercial success in the performing arts.
- other evidence evidencing extraordinary ability not listed in one of the
The INS will generally not award the visa based simply on counting pieces of paper. Rather, it will look at the quality of evidence to see if the evidence category is met.
Applicants for the EB-1 extraordinary ability petition submit their application on Form I-140 to one of the four INS regional service centers. A labor certification is not required, thus saving the applicant multiple months and major headaches.