Orlando is one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities in the United States, largely due to the increase of jobs and international migration in recent years. Foreign nationals from all over the world are in search of opportunities to live and work in the United States. Due to the current administration’s recent crackdown on employment visas, opportunities for talented, educated, and qualified individuals are becoming less and less. The H-1B and L-1 visa applications are becoming harder to qualify for due to the administration’s “Buy American, Hire American” police.
However, foreign nationals are not without options. One creative option that many individuals are unaware of is the EB-1 extraordinary ability visa (EB-1). The EB-1 is a category reserved for individuals who can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through national or international recognition. Due to their talent in a given field, the individual is capable of self-petitioning and does not need a U.S. sponsor and allows for individuals to bypass the normal requirements of a labor certification.
A wide array of professionals and individuals can be capable of applying for the extraordinary ability green card. A sampling of our clients that have successfully applied for the EB-1 visa include:
- Music Producers
- Software Developers
- Fashion designer
- Soccer players
In order to qualify for the Extraordinary Ability visa, an individual must meet at least three of the following ten criteria:
- Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
- Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
- Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
- Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
- Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
- Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
- Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
- Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts
Frequently Asked Questions regarding the EB-1 application:
What if I do not have evidence to meet the 10 criteria but still believe I qualify?
Some industries do not lend themselves to the criteria enumerated by USCIS. For example, a soccer coach. However, if the evidence does not lend itself to the criteria, an individual may use comparable evidence. We were able to receive an approval for a soccer coach through several recommendation letters. An individual may submit expert letters from experts within the field, peer members, national or international associations for an individual’s particular industry, however, merely meeting three of the ten criteria is not sufficient. By virtue of showing how he or she meets the above mentioned criteria, the individual must show that he or she has sustained national or international acclaim. Immigration will review the overall circumstances and evidence to make the determination of each individual case.
What is the difference between the O-1 and the EB-1 since they are both extraordinary ability applications?
The above mentioned criteria may appear similar to the O-1 visa at first glance, but there are several distinguishing aspects of the EB-1 in comparison. First, the O-1 visa requires a U.S. sponsor and is a temporary visa while the EB-1 allows for an individual to obtain lawful permanent residence solely on the basis of his or her talent and abilities within a given field. In the O-1, the individual may claim membership in professional associations, such MLB, and argue that it is an association that demands outstanding achievement as not all baseball players rise up to the level of playing for the National league. However, this same argument is not allowed for purposes of the EB-1 as prior precedent has shown that any mandatory membership or membership attained by virtue of being in a select profession does not qualify. In the same way, for an O-1, while awards that are nationally recognized can be smaller awards that have national significance and can be second place, for purposes of the EB-1 those awards must be well known throughout the individual’s country and adjudicators have argued must be first place. EB-1 criteria is heavily scrutinized by adjudicators. Therefore, the individual’s accomplishments and achievements must be clearly documented and creatively argued.
Do I need to win a first place award or can other awards suffice?
An example is where one of our cases included a Brazilian musician who won a second place award. USCIS noted that his second place award was for a musical contest that was not widely recognized throughout Brazil and was instead limited to his particular region. However, we argued that our client was one of the few musicians who was able to sing a form of Brazilian folklore that was created within that region, and his music therefore had cultural significance throughout the nation. While he had won a second place award, that did not undermine the fact that it was an award for a category of music that not many individuals worldwide are capable of singing.
What if I have filed another I-140 application?
An individual is allowed to file two I-140 applications at the same time using different criteria, ie. The National Interest Waiver and the Extraordinary Ability application.
Can I change jobs while the application is pending or after it is approved?
Since the EB-1 is a self petitioning application and not dependent upon a U.S. sponsoring company, you can change jobs, but you do have to provide evidence to USCIS that you will continue working in your field of extraordinary ability.
How long will the process take?
The application processing time varies depending on a variety of factors. Currently, the I-140 application under the EB-1 category is taking approximately 7 months. As the EB-1 application is eligible for premium processing, if an applicant wishes to pay the application fee, the applicant will receive correspondence from USCIS within 15 days. Requests for evidence may add anywhere from a few weeks up to 3 months to the processing of the application. If and when the I-140 is approved, the next stage of the process will vary based on whether the applicant is filing from within the United States or from abroad.
What types of documents do I need to have in order to apply?
An EB-1 application does not have a set list of required documents as each individual and each industry is different. The EB-1 application largely depends upon the narrative an application presents to USCIS about an individual’s background. If an individual believes he or she meets at least three criteria, a well-crafted and well-documented application can show that the overall circumstances support the EB-1 application. If you have won major awards, your work has been published, or you have done something to contribute to your field, you may qualify for the EB-1. At Colombo & Hurd, our Orlando Immigration Attorneys specialize in the EB-1 visa application and have achieved several approvals for our clients using creative lawyering. Call us today to speak with an attorney to go over the process and determine your eligibility.