So You Think You’re Extraordinary?
The EB-1 Visa is for those with extraordinary ability in the “sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.” To be extraordinary, you must have sustained national or international acclaim with extensive documentation in your field. If you qualify, you can come to the United States without a job offer or an employer.
Do you want to move to the United States, but you don’t have a job offer? Are you incredibly talented or good at what you do? If so, you may be able to qualify for an EB-1 visa. To qualify for this visa you will have to be found to have extraordinary ability in the “sciences, arts, business, or athletics.” This explicitly does not include the professions, like lawyers or accountants, unfortunately. However, if you are a world renowned scholar or researcher, you may have a good shot at qualifying. An applicant’s extraordinary ability is proven through, either: a major international award (like the Nobel Prize), or through at least three pieces of evidence. This evidence can be in the form of:
- Lesser prizes
- Memberships in selective organizations
- Published materials about the applicant
- Participation as a judge in the work of others
- Contributions in the field that set the applicant above others
- Articles published in nationally or internationally circulated journals
- Display of work (example: artists)
- Performing in a lead or critical role for distinguished organization
- Proof of high salary in the field (in comparison to others)
Not all of these pieces of evidence are given the same weight, as some types of evidence are more persuasive than others. It is the goal of the applicant to use what evidence is available to make the most persuasive case possible to USCIS that they are extraordinary.
So how would you determine what evidence is most persuasive? An applicant will need to prove two things overall. First, that they have the qualifications necessary, and secondly, that they will continue to work in their field. Each piece of evidence should have two purposes. To prove one of those two overall points and to prove you are extraordinary in your field. For example a professional baseball player could submit newspaper articles written about his abilities, evidence of playing at high level in his home country, a contract offer from a Major League Baseball (MLB) team in the U.S., and scouting reports from that team. Newspaper articles would both show that the player is a qualified candidate and that the public is noticing their qualifications and commenting on it. A contract offer from an MLB team would show that the player intends to continue working within their field, that a U.S. employer views the player as extraordinary, and that the player is talented enough to warrant the salary that American professional athletes earn.
The idea behind this visa is to lure the best and the brightest to the United States. So, it would entirely defeat the purpose if one of the best scientists in the world immigrated to the U.S. and then opened a yoga studio. The law itself says that these applicants should “substantially benefit prospectively the United States. ” In order to prove this, you have to show you are in a good position, to potentially, benefit the United States in asubstantial way, because of your extraordinary ability and background. While a yoga studio is beneficial, the government has decided that the benefit has to come from the field that the candidate has extraordinary ability in (in this example, science). The government cannot explicitly require evidence to prove the benefit, but it should be kept in mind during the application process. A prospective offer of employment is not required, and that is the beauty of this visa. However, a prospective offer of employment is a good way to show benefit and the continued desire to work in one’s field.
Professors often receive EB-1 visas more easily than other groups of individuals. There is a subvisa within the EB-1 category, EB-1-B, which is for “outstanding professors and researchers.” Unlike other types of EB-1 visas, this one does have to be filed by an employer on behalf of an employee. It is easy to see why a professor or researcher would fall within this extraordinary category. Part of a professor’s job is to regularly publish books or articles which are national or international in nature. Professors often peer-review other professors work to be published. Furthermore, most professors specialize within their field. Their area of expertise can be extremely specific, which means there will be few others who do that specific work. It is much easier to stand out in a field which has fewer people in it.
It is not, however, a slam-dunk case. There are specific evidence requirements. You have to meet at least two of the six pieces of evidence below, and more is always better.
- A major prize or award for outstanding achievement
- Membership in associations which require a demonstration of outstanding achievement
- Material in professional publications written by others about the applicant’s work in the academic field
- Participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field
- Original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field
- Authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field
If an employer is applying for an EB-1-B visa on your behalf, you also have to have a permanent job offer (a tenure-track job), and three years of prior teaching or research experience.
There is is also a subvisa called EB-1-C visa which is for “multinational managers or executives.” This visa subtype can only be applied for by employers on behalf of their employees. Only certain type of employers qualify. There must be a relationship between the U.S. employer and the foreign employer. This relationship can be that the two companies are actually the same company, have a parent/subsidiary relationship, or the companies are affiliates. The employer filling out the visa must be a U.S. employer. The relationship with the foreign employer must be at least a year old. The employee that will get this visa must be employed in a managerial or an executive position, or be an employee of “specialized knowledge.” In 2016 and 2017 there have been less EB-1 visas granted to scientists from India and China due to high numbers of EB-1-C visas applied for on behalf of managers and executives from these countries. An EB-1-C visa is easier to apply for than the general EB-1 visa, which underlines the importance of picking the right visa category, and hiring a knowledgeable immigration attorney.
However, this does not mean that all professors and managers/executives get in, nor does it mean that others cannot get this visa. The EB-1 visa has the highest standard of all visas, but if you can truly call yourself extraordinary, you may qualify for the EB-1 visa and a life in the United States without needing a job offer. The key is demonstrating your unique or unusual ability to benefit society (or at least a small segment of it). Creative evidence can be used to prove your extraordinary abilities and qualities, so consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer can be invaluable to presenting the best application.
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