Case Study: AAO Sustained an EB1-A Appeal of a Petition for a Chess Player

by Victoria Chen, Esq., J.D.

Background: The petitioner seeks classification as an employment-based immigrant pursuant to section 203(b)(1)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the Act), 8 U.S.C. s 1153(b)(1)(A), as an alien of extraordinary ability. The director determined that the petitioner had not established the sustained national or international acclaim required for classification as an alien of extraordinary ability.

USCIS Decision: The director determined the petitioner had not established that the beneficiary qualifies for classification as an alien of extraordinary ability.

Evidence :

The petitioner submitted supporting evidence including :

1. his impressive national and world chess rankings;

2. his international grandmaster title, material regarding the significance of this title;

3. evidence of membership in associations,

4. several notable news articles and tournament results, including award certificates;

5. Reference letters from highly distinguished members of the field, including International [IDENTIFYING INFORMATION REDACTED BY AGENCY]who characterizes the petitioner’s recent two and a half point lead over other Grand Masters “just phenomenal” and “rare in International Grand Master level chess tournaments.”

AAO decision The AAO first mentioned the concern of the USCIS: “The Service disagrees that all athletes performing at the major league level should automatically meet the “extraordinary ability” standard. . . . A blanket rule for all major league athletes would contravene Congress’ intent to reserve this category to “that small percentage of individuals who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor.”

Nevertheless, the AAO decided that the petitioner has satisfied the burden of proof of extraordinary ability by citing a precedent case. “Consistent with Matter of Price, 20 I&N Dec. 953 (Act. Assoc. Comm’r. 1994), we find the evidence of record sufficient to establish that the petitioner has demonstrated his eligibility for the classification sought. Specifically, upon careful review of the record, it is concluded that the petitioner has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that he is within the small percentage of individuals who have risen to the very top of the field of chess. The evidence submitted establishes that the petitioner has sustained national or international acclaim and that his achievements have been recognized in the field of chess. As a result, the petitioner qualifies as an alien of extraordinary ability.”

Chen Immigration Law Associates, P.A.

North America Immigration Law Group (Chen Immigration Law Associates) is a U.S. immigration law firm dedicated to representing corporations, research institutions, and individuals from all 50 U.S. states regarding I-140 immigration petitions. We specialize in employment-based immigration petition and have a proven record of high success rate for the categories of: EB2-NIW (National Interest Waiver), EB1-A (Alien of Extraordinary Ability), EB1-B (Outstanding Researcher/Professor) and O-1 (Alien of Extraordinary Ability).

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