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EB-1(a) Alien of Extraordinary Ability

Law Offices of Yu & Associates

What is the EB-1(a) Immigration Visa Category?

EB-1(a) is an employment-based immigration petition for permanent residency for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability. Some advantages of the EB-1(a) classification are that a labor certification is not required, and an employment offer is also not required. Moreover, the alien may petition for him or herself without an offer of employment. However, a large amount of documentation is required to prove "extraordinary ability."

Who Can be Considered an Alien of Extraordinary Ability?

Those who have demonstrated extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics can be considered Aliens of Extraordinary Ability.

What Is "Extraordinary Ability"?

Extraordinary Ability is demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, and evidenced through a one-time achievement of a major, internationally recognized award or through evidence of achieving at least three of ten standards set forth in the regulations. Merely meeting three of the ten standards is not enough to ensure classification as an alien of extraordinary ability. In determining whether a petitioner meets a specific criterion, the evidence itself must be evaluated in terms of whether it establishes that the petitioner has sustained national or international acclaim.

Who Is Eligible for EB-1(a)?

To meet the requirements for Alien of Extraordinary Ability, you must be one of "that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor". Either a one-time achievement evidenced by a major international recognized award or a combination of lesser achievements can be used to demonstrate outstanding ability. These achievements must include at least three of the following (although alternative evidence may be submitted if the following criteria do not apply):

  1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence;
  2. Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members;
  3. Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  4. Evidence that the alien has judged the work of others, either individually or on a panel;
  5. Evidence of the alien's original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field;
  6. Evidence of the alien's authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  7. Evidence that the alien's work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  8. Performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations;
  9. Evidence that the alien commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field;
  10. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts.

What Kind of Documents Are Needed for an EB-1(a) Application?

The applicant must submit evidence of the types of achievements listed above. This might include copies of awards, copies of news or journal articles by or about the applicant, evidence of citations by others of the applicant¡¯s work or of the applicant¡¯s participation as a reviewer of the work of others as well as recommendation letters from experts in the field. The applicant must also demonstrate that he or she intends to continue working their field of ability after coming to the United States, with materials such as letter(s) from prospective employer(s), evidence of prearranged commitments such as contracts, or a statement from the alien detailing plans on how he or she intends to continue work in the United States.

What Should the Letters of Recommendation Be Like?

Letters of recommendation from experts in the applicant¡¯s field are one of the most important parts of the EB-1(a) petition. These letters should most strongly demonstrate the significance of the applicant¡¯s accomplishments in his or her field and should describe the applicant¡¯s contributions to the field, awards they have received, publications, presentations or other works, participation as reviewers or judges, or any other achievements that show how the applicant fulfills the criteria for the EB-1(a) category. These can be letters from professors of well-established higher education institutions, government officials, experts from national professional associations, etc. USCIS gives more weight to letters from independent experts whom applicants do not know personally, since USCIS officers prefer to see objective, fair, and independent comments and judgments on the qualifications and achievements of EB-1(a) applicants.

The above is intended as a general introduction and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion for your particular case. Please contact the Law Offices of Yu & Associates with any specific questions. Tel: (301) 838-8986, Email:, Address: 110 N Washington St., Suite 328E, Rockville, MD 20850.

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