This is a story about how we helped our client get a green card as a person of extraordinary ability.
In November 2008, our office was retained by a filmmaker who was in the U.S. in temporary nonimmigrant status. The project for which he was in the United States to work on was experiencing issues that gave the filmmaker concerns as to whether he would be able to maintain his temporary nonimmigrant status and sought our advice on his chances of being granted a green card as a person of extraordinary ability in the EB-1 preference category.
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An person of extraordinary ability is one who belongs to that “small percentage” who has “risen to the very top of the field of endeavor”. Since the film-maker’s accomplishments were prestigious but not necessarily overwhelming, we explained that it would be a tough case, but certainly one that was worth pursuing.
A person of extraordinary ability may become a permanent resident without undergoing the PERM process. In fact, such persons do not need an employer to submit a petition to the USCIS on their behalf since they are permitted to self-petition.
To be granted a green card as a person of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics, one must meet at least three of the following ten criteria, though these elements are difficult to define and the USCIS exercises a great deal of scrutiny in determining whether the alien has met the criteria needed for the EB-1 classification.
- Documentation of the alien’s receipt of lesser nationally or internationally- recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
- Documentation of the alien’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;
- Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications or other major media, relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought. Such evidence shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation;
- Evidence of the alien’s participation, either individually or on a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specification for which classification is sought;
- Evidence of the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business- related contributions of major significance in the field;
- Evidence of the alien’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
- Evidence of the display of the alien’s work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
- Evidence that the alien has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
- Evidence that the alien has commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, in relation to others in the field; or
- of commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.
In January 2009, our office assisted the filmmaker in preparing and filing his self-petitioned I-140 immigrant visa petition and at the same time, we prepared and submitted form I-485 applications for him and his wife to adjust status.
This allowed them to receive employment authorization documents that allowed them to work in the U.S. while their I-485 applications were pending.
In July 2009, the USCIS issued a Request for Evidence in response to the I-140 immigrant visa petition asking for additional documentation demonstrating that the filmmaker met the criteria as a person of extraordinary ability. We worked with the filmmaker to gather additional information and prepared a response to the USCIS on his behalf. One month later, the I-140 was approved.
Then, in September 2009, the USCIS issued a Request for Evidence regarding the I-485 application to adjust status asking for evidence that the applicant was “engaged in his field of endeavor.” We were able to provide evidence of his ongoing film projects that were sufficient to meet the USCIS’s concerns and our client was granted lawful permanent residence in November 2009.
While it was not an easy case, we were happy to be able to help him and his wife achieve lawful permanent residence within one year of retaining our law firm.
Read more of our Immigration Success Stories.
Person of Extraordinary Ability – Additional Resources
- Employment-Based Immigration: First Preference EB-1 (USCIS)
- Extraordinary Ability – USCIS Policy Manual
- O-1 Visa: Person of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (USCIS)
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.