EB-1A Kazarian Analysis: Claiming the “High Salary” Criterion


“High Salary” criterion [8 CFR 204.5 (h)(3)(ix)]:

“Evidence that the alien has commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, in relation to others in the field.”

As a foreign national wishing to claim the “High Salary” criterion, there are several items to consider prior to compiling appropriate evidence in the objective of satisfying this criterion. Throughout our extensive legal experience and specialized background in U.S. immigration policy analysis, we at Chen Immigration Law Associates have come to view this particular criterion as one of the easiest criteria to claim when the specific evidence required is both available and qualifying.  In other words, and no matter the origination of evidence, in order to claim this criterion, one must submit evidence of salary/remuneration receipts in the form of official government tax returns (i.e. Form W-2s, Form 1099s, or the foreign equivalent of such).  Regardless of whether this evidence is either unavailable or not applicable, it is very difficult to satisfy this criterion without such evidence, since offer letters, or other official statements documenting one’s high salary do not necessarily demonstrate that the petitioner/beneficiary actually received the salary presented in the claimed criterion.

Moreover, due to the separate plain language references used in this regulatory criterion, namely ‘salary’ as opposed to ‘remunerations,’ it is important to define these terms and note that they are effectively interchangeable and do not by any means indicate that one’s wages in the form of benefits (i.e. tuition reimbursements, healthcare/medical allotments, profit-sharing incentives, stock options, 401(k) contributions, etc.), regardless of their basis on performance, ever qualify as part of one’s salary or remunerations.  This is due to the nature of these benefits, since they are relatively viewed as routine, and in some instances are indeed required by law, and are likewise rarely included in individual tax returns. Bonuses on the other hand, albeit depending on the actual receipt of said wages and the inclusion of such in tax returns, may qualify as part of one’s compensation, only if they are included in the total wages section of the individual’s tax returns.  In fact, according to the Merriam-Webster® dictionary (the definition-database used by the USCIS in connotative regulatory contexts)-

“Definition of SALARY:  fixed compensation paid regularly for services…
Definition of REMUNERATION:  something that remunerates : RECOMPENSE, PAY…
Related to REMUNERATION: Synonyms:  compensation, disbursement, giving, paying, remitment, remittance, payment.”
Therefore, by definition, any payment for one’s services, whether in the form of salary, wages, commission, or bonuses, may be considered in the regulatory evaluation under this criterion; however, one must note the comparative implications imposed if one does claim anything other than base salary.  In other words, if one submits evidence in the form of one’s base salary, then field, geographic, and position-based statistics must be provided specific to the base salary of others in the mutual field of classification; in layman’s terms, you must compare ‘apples to apples’ and ‘oranges to oranges,’ and failure to do so may result in the immediate denial or request for additional evidence in the case by the USCIS. As such, it may or may not be valuable to claim one’s total cash compensation (i.e. base + variable pay) in submission of evidence under this criterion. Nevertheless, if one does have evidence of their salary/remuneration in the form of official government tax returns, either domestic or foreign, the next step in determining eligibility under this criterion involves a comprehensive analysis of the salary’s or remunerations’ height in relation to others in the field.

In accordance with the overarching context of Kazarian analysis in determining whether or not one has risen to the top of their field of endeavor, and according to the USCIS-

“Evidence regarding whether the alien’s compensation is high relative to that of others working in the field may take many forms.  If the petitioner is claiming to meet this criterion, then the burden is on the petitioner to provide appropriate evidence.  Examples may include, but are not limited to, geographical or position-appropriate compensation surveys and organizational justifications to pay above the compensation data.  Three websites that may be helpful in evaluating the evidence provided by the petitioner are:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
The Department of Labor’s Career One Stop website:
The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification Online Wage Library:
Herewith, it is important to note that not only is it the responsibility of the petitioner/beneficiary to submit evidence of one’s salary/remunerations received in the form of governmental tax returns, but the petitioner/beneficiary is also responsible for submitting relevant wage data and surveys showing that the salary/remunerations claimed are considered ‘high’ in relation to others in the mutual field, relative geographic (local/regional/national), and similar position/title.  In addition to those databases provided above, other qualifying sources of salary/wage data that provide free statistical outputs include Salary.com and Payscale.com.  Others such as Vault.com and Kenexa’s Companalyst.com provide comparative salary figures via paid subscription services.  Salary surveys, albeit to some degree more difficult to obtain, may provide position-specific wage data that will be valuable in determining and/or demonstrating the relative height of one’s salary.  Ultimately, and regardless of the comparative data sources employed in the analytical determination of one’s salary being high in relation to others in the field, it is critical to ensure that the salary is well-above the 90th percentile of comparable wage data.  This is due to the necessary and implicative realization that the plain language requires one’s salary/remunerations to be significantly higher than others in the field of endeavor, thereby enabling the secondary and contextual evaluation of one’s rise to the ‘small percentage at the top of the field of endeavor.’

Case Study:  Graphic Designer – High Salary in Relation to others in the Field

One of our past approved cases filed by Chen Immigration Law Associates involved a Graphic Designer who had evidence of a high salary of approximately $90,000.  Therein, we provided the following databases to show the individual’s high salary in relation to other graphic designers in the field:  (1) The Bureau of Labor Statistics; (2) The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification Online Wage Library; (3) Salary.com; and (4) Payscale.com.  For each of these databases, we highlighted the 90th percentile figures (Level 4 Wage for the Foreign Labor Certification database) which were substantially lower than the graphic designer’s salary, and where applicable/available, provided geographic-specific data for the individual’s position relative to others within the employment-based locality.

At Chen Immigration Law Associates, we recognize that understanding breeds confidence, and that confidence in turn leads to favorable action, which invariably results in favorable consequence.  This is not to say that the information contained within this article is infallible, but rather suggests that with this additional knowledge, individuals in all pursuits and motives will be better suited to qualifying evidence leading to a more favorable adjudication of their immigration proceeding.  Thus, before attempting to claim this criterion, like any other criterion, one must consider the comprehensive and detailed standards of law.  Consulting an attorney will aid one’s understanding of whether or not they, in totality and actuality, meet this criterion.  All cases are different, and the USCIS has set up each criterion for the flexible interpretation of all parties.  Therefore, while it is always illogical to completely disregard evidence, proper consideration and consultation is the optimal means of determining which criteria to argue in the petition package.



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).

Our Ten Thousand I-140 Approvals Provide Unprecedented Insight into the USCIS Adjudication Trend

With more than 16,000 EB-1A, EB-1B, EB-2 NIW and O-1 cases approved, we have first hand information on the manner in which the USCIS adjudicate I-140 cases. As the USCIS has constantly changed its adjudication standards for the EB-1A, EB-1B and EB-2 NIW categories, our firm's huge database of successful cases gives you unprecedented insight to USCIS adjudication trends. We carefully analyze the data for all of our cases and apply the results of our analyses toward giving our clients up-to-date advice and adapting our strategies such that we remain on par with the ever-shifting landscape of immigration law in the U.S. With us, you will always have access to important updates, strategies, and information so that you can make the most informed decisions about your case.

We Have Helped Hundreds and Thousands of Clients with Credentials and Backgrounds Similar to Yours

With our exceedingly large number of successful petitions, no matter what credentials you have, no matter your background and field of expertise, no matter your visa status or nationality, chances are we have helped hundreds or even thousands of clients just like you. Our clients are usually impressed with how well we understand their research and work. Our insight and understanding stems from the fact that we have handled many cases with elements similar to yours already, and this helps us devise the best strategies for each individual petition.

Vast Majority of Clients Came to Us Because of Referrals

For years, our firm has attracted new clients based solely on word of mouth, recommendations, and the positive collaboration experiences shared with them by their friends and family. We take pride in our reputation and work hard to ensure that we provide a green card application experience that our clients are happy to share with their friends and colleagues. That is how our approved cases grew from 600 in 2013 to over 3,500 in 2019.

If you are interested in filing the green card, please send your CV to law@wegreened.com for our free evaluation. Our attorneys will email you back with the evaluation result within 24 hours.

Approval Notices: https://www.wegreened.com/eb1_niw_approvals

Success Stories: https://www.wegreened.com/blog/

Website: www.wegreened.com

Free evaluation email: law@wegreened.com

Tel: 888.666.0969 (Toll Free)

To see more clients’ testimonials and approvals, please refer to:

Client's Testimonials

Approval Notices

To Learn More About Your Options CLICK HERE

Copyright © North America Immigration Law GroupWeGreened.com, All Rights Reserved.