U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued new policy guidance regarding the types of evidence it may evaluate for EB-1 Extraordinary Ability (E11) and Outstanding Professor or Researcher (E12) petitions.
The EB-1 Extraordinary Ability and Outstanding Professor or Researcher classifications are available to certain high-skilled workers. To qualify for EB-1 Extraordinary Ability classification, one must demonstrate they possess extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. Likewise, to qualify for EB-1 Outstanding Professor or Researcher classification, one must demonstrate they have received international recognition for their outstanding achievements in a particular academic field. They must also possess at least three years of research experience, and must be entering the United States to pursue a teaching or research position at a university or research institution. While the bar for the EB-1 Extraordinary Ability and Outstanding Professor or Researcher petitions is high, these classifications offer significant advantages. Notably, green cards are usually available to EB-1 immigrants much sooner than other employment-based categories. Moreover, the EB-1 Extraordinary Ability and Outstanding Professor or Researcher categories do not require a test of the U.S. labor market.
USCIS has updated their Policy Manual to provide more information on the types of evidence that will satisfy the criteria for these classifications. Additional information about the criteria for these classifications and the changes USCIS has made to the Policy Manual follow:
- Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence: USCIS has updated this criterion to describe specific examples of qualifying awards, including awards from well-known national institutions or professional associations, certain doctoral dissertation awards, and/or awards recognizing presentations at nationally or internationally recognized conferences. USCIS has also stated they will consider the criteria used to grant the award, the significance of the award in the field, the number of recipients, and the limitations on competitors.
- Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements from their members: USCIS has updated this criterion to provide additional detail on the considerations it will make to determine whether the alien’s membership in an organization will fulfill this criterion. Specifically, USCIS has emphasized that memberships based only on education or experience in a particular field, or the payment of membership dues, will not be sufficient to meet this criterion. Rather, the alien’s membership must be based on their significant contributions and notoriety in their field.
- Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications or other major media: USCIS has included more information on the considerations for this criterion. Specifically, the Policy Manual now states that the published material should be about the alien and their work in the field, not just about the person’s employer or the employer’s work. The Policy Manual also emphasizes that the alien’s work need not be the sole focus of the article, but that the article should include a substantial discussion of the alien’s work. USCIS will also consider the circulation and reputation of the publishing source.
- Participation as a judge of the work of others: USCIS has updated the Policy Manual to include specific examples of work that would satisfy this criterion, including serving as a peer reviewer for academic journals and conferences, serving as a member of a Ph.D. dissertation committee, or serving as a reviewer for government research funding programs. USCIS has also emphasized that the petitioner must show that the alien has not only been invited to judge the work of others, but also that the alien has actually completed this work as a judge.
- Original contributions of major significance to the field: USCIS has provided specific examples of evidence that may be used to satisfy this criterion, including published material about the significance of the person’s work, testimonials from other experts in the field, patents or licenses deriving from the person’s work, and documentation that the person’s work has been widely cited by their peers. USCIS has emphasized that analysis under this criterion focuses on whether the person’s original work constitutes a major, significant contribution to the field.
- Authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media: USCIS has updated this criterion to provide additional information on what types of publications will be acceptable. Specifically, the policy manual stats that USCIS will consider the intended audience and the circulation of each publication.
- Display of the alien’s work in artistic exhibitions or showcases (for EB-1 Extraordinary Ability classification only): The USCIS Policy Manual has been updated to provide a specific definition of an artistic exhibition, stating that the venue where the alien’s work is displayed must be “a public showing.”
- Evidence that the alien has held leading or critical roles for organizations with distinguished reputations (for EB-1 Extraordinary Ability classification only): The USCIS has expanded this section of the criterion to list specific examples of critical roles. These roles include senior research positions, principal investigators, members of key committees, founders, and other leading roles.
- Evidence that the alien has received a highly salary or other significantly high remuneration for their services (for EB-1 Extraordinary Ability classification only): The Policy Manual has been updated to describe evidence that may be submitted to fulfill this criterion. Notably, it states that petitioners must submit evidence of the alien’s compensation (such as their tax returns, pay statements, or employment contract), as well as evidence that this is substantially more than others in comparable positions (such as data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- Commercial success in the performing arts (for EB-1 Extraordinary Ability classification only): The USCIS Policy Manual has been updated to emphasize that the mere fact that a person has recorded music or performed in productions is not sufficient to meet this criterion. Rather, the petitioner must submit evidence regarding the volume of sales or box office receipts reflecting the alien’s commercial success.
- Other comparable evidence to establish eligibility: The USCIS Policy Manual has been updated to provide additional guidance on what constitutes “comparable evidence” to establish eligibility. The Policy Manual emphasizes that the petitioner must demonstrate that the aforementioned evidentiary criteria do not readily apply to the alien’s occupation.
In adding this additional guidance to their Policy Manual, USCIS seeks to provide more clarity and transparency to the EB-1 application process. Click here to view additional information about the EB-1 Extraordinary and Outstanding Professor or Researcher Applications. Please also refer to the USCIS Policy Manual for more information on the acceptable evidence for these petitions.