Documentation of EB1-A (Alien of Extraordinary Ability) Petition

To obtain an EB1-A approval, the petition must be accompanied with subtantial documentation as supporting evidence. The evidence can be a one-time major international prize/award or at least three of the following types of evidence.

1. Documentation of the foreign person's receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor:

The threshold for lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes/awards is lower than that of major internationally recognized prize/award. As the law suggests, the prize/award must be in the national or international scope. Local prizes/awards will not be accepted. In addition, USCIS agencies have made the ruling concerning this evidence requirement that academic scholarships or grants do not suffice; and team award is less valuable than individual award. Moreover, to satisfy this prong, evidence should be submitted regarding how many individuals were nominated for an award or prize and the criteria for eligibility.

2. Documentation of the foreign person'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:

With regard to membership in selective associations, the AAO has reiterated that documentation must be submitted regarding the membership criteria. A petitioner must show that the association requires outstanding achievement as an essential condition for admission to membership. Membership in trade unions or provincial organizations will not be given any weight. Similarly, membership requirements based on employment or activity in a given field, a fixed minimum of education or experience, standardized test scores, grade point averages, recommendations by colleagues or current members, or payment of dues do not satisfy this criterion because they do not constitute outstanding achievements. Moreover, membership in an association that evaluates its membership applications at the local chapter level would not qualify. In short, the overall prestige of a given association is not determinative. The key is membership requirements rather than the association's overall reputation. The record must reflect that the organization requires outstanding achievements of its general membership.

3. Published material about the foreign person, in any language, provided it has been translated into English, in professional or major trade publications or major newspapers about the foreign person; this evidence must include the title, date, and author of the material:

Published materials about the foreign national must show that the foreign national's work has been covered in detail by major media or national broadcast networks.The clippings supplied should contain the title or date of the publications. In addition, AAO rulings have decided that no weight will be given to local publications; and little weight will be given to clippings about projects/productions in which the foreign national had been involved when he/she is given little attention in the article. A foreign person does not earn national or international acclaim by being an unnamed cast member in a widely publicized play.

4. Evidence of the foreign person's participation, either individually or on a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization for which classification is sought:

The petition must supply evidence of explanations as to how activities constitute judging the work of others. In addition, all claimed appearances must be documented.

5. Evidence of the foreign person's original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field:

With regard to contribution in the field, the AAO takes the position that the evidence should not merely show that the foreign national has been “successful“ in her field; the record should establish that the foreign national's contributions in the field set her significantly above others in her field.

6. Evidence of the foreign person's authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media:

The AAO has ruled that when evidence of publication of scholarly articles is presented for a field in which it is normal for persons to publish articles, the articles may have little value in proving that the applicant “is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top“ of that field of endeavor. In addition, articles written by the foreign person must be published in nationally or internationally circulated journals.

7. Evidence of the display of the foreign person's work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases:

It should be note that the very act of performing solo does not demonstrate sustained acclaim or extraordinary ability. If the petitioner's performances do not sell significant numbers of tickets or otherwise attract substantial audiences, then it is insignificant that the petitioner has performed solo.

8. Evidence that the foreign person has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation:

With regard to evidence that the foreign national has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation, the AAO has clarified that speaking engagements with organizations or establishments are not sufficient without evidence regarding the foreign national's importance within the organization or that the organization has a distinguished reputation.

The AAO has also implied that even if the foreign national has performed a leading role in a production/project, further evidence must be submitted that the production/project was successful. Evidence that the foreign national is being considered for major roles/projects will be given little or no weight since the petition must establish eligibility for EB-1 status as of the time of filing.

9. Evidence that the foreign person has commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, in relation to others in the field.

The district court held that whether the salary received by the foreign national is consistent with the salary received by top persons in the field must be determined by comparison to other persons with a similar role, position, or expertise as the foreign national. In making such a comparison, factors other than ability must be taken into consideration in determining the foreign national's comparative salary. In addition, evidence of receipt of high compensation for one project/performance is insufficient to justify a general finding that the applicant commands a high salary.

10. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts, or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.

With regard to evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts, the AAO holds that this criterion is specifically tailored to the performing arts. Evidence of brief membership in a commercially-successful ensemble will be given little weight.

11. Other comparable evidence if the above types of evidence do not readily apply to the alien's occupations.

The regulation leaves the term “comparable evidence“ undefined, providing flexibility to the employer and alien in an extraordinary ability case to document the alien's qualifications. Under the criteria set out above, the USCIS reserves the flexibility to require that more than three categories of evidence be submitted in a particular case.

Other Considerations: the AAO has confirmed that national recognition is sufficient to qualify for EB-1 status and an alien's extraordinary ability must be judged by national standards in cases in which a person has not achieved international acclaim. In considering evidence regarding salary, for example, the USCIS should consider the alien's salary in relation to other persons engaged in the same type of activities in the country.