Aliens With Extraordinary Ability

Permanent residence in the U.S. may be obtained by individuals who have extraordinary ability
in the sciences, arts, business, education or athletics, which has been recognized at the national
or international level. This classification does not require an employment offer in the U.S. or
a labor certification. The alien may show that he or she
won one major prize, such as a Nobel Prize or an Olympic Gold Medal. In the alternative
(and what is more commonly the case), the alien can show evidence of at least three of
the following criteria:

  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; and/or
  10. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts.

These criteria are not comprehensive or exclusive. The immigration service may request additional evidence of the alien’s extraordinary ability. Alternatively, the alien may provide information aside from these criteria as evidence of extraordinary accomplishments. In essence, the alien needs to demonstrate that he or she is recognized nationally or internationally as one of the most accomplished individuals in his or her field of expertise.


The petition is filed with the appropriate USCIS Service Center while the alien is in the United States or abroad. If you are in the U.S. you may also file applications for Permanent Residence (adjustment of status), employment authorization and a travel permit (advance parole) at the same time. If you are abroad you may apply for Permanent Residence at a U.S. Consulate in your home country once the underlying petition is approved. Your immediate family (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age) may be included in your application for Permanent Residence.


As explained above, this classification does not require a labor certification or even an offer of employment in the U.S., therefore, it can take significantly less time than other methods of business or employment based immigration. During the labor certification process, the alien may be required to stay under the employment of the petitioning employer until the process has been finalized. Under the Extraordinary Ability classification however, the alien does not need to be associated with a particular employer and may even be self-employed. Also, as explained above, this classification allows the filing of the application for Permanent Residence concurrently with the visa petition, which is not allowed with most labor certification applications, making the process faster.

As to disadvantages, it is important to understand that this classification is intended only for individuals whose abilities in a certain field are truly extraordinary and that are amongst a small percentage of individuals who have demonstrated similar abilities and accomplishments in that field. Therefore, it is important to have your case carefully evaluated by a qualified immigration attorney who can determine your chances of success in this field.