Documentation for EB-1A (Alien of Extraordinary Ability) Petition
In order to obtain EB-1A approval, the petition must be supplemented by considerable evidence. The documentation can be a key international award/prize or at least three of the following pieces of evidence.
1. Evidence of the non-resident’s award of minor nationally or internationally acknowledged awards or prizes for distinction in the area of expertise:
The benchmark for minor nationally or internationally acknowledged awards/prizes is less than that of major internationally acknowledged awards/prizes. The requirements state that the award/prize must be in the national or international scope. Local awards/prizes are not recognized as evidence. USCIS rules state that grants or academic scholarships do not serve as evidence. Group awards are less respected than individual awards. In addition, to fulfill this prong, documentation should be provided indicating how many persons were nominated for the prize or award, and the standards for eligibility.
2. Evidence of the non-resident’s participation in organizations in the area for which classification is sought, which demand outstanding accomplishments of their participants, as judged by acclaimed national or international authorities in their area of expertise:
Regarding participation in discerning organizations, the AAO has restated that evidence must be presented that describes the participation standards. A petitioner must prove that the organization demands outstanding accomplishment as a critical requirement for entrance to membership. Trade union or local association memberships will not have any merit. Likewise, participation conditions based on grade point averages, payment of dues, standardized test scores, a fixed minimum of experience or education, recommendations by peers or current members, or activity or employment in a given area do not fulfill this requirement since they do not establish outstanding accomplishments. Furthermore, participation in an organization that assesses its membership applications at the local chapter level would not qualify. In summary, the overall stature of a given organization is not decisive. The key is membership conditions rather than the organization’s overall status. The evidence must prove that the association demands outstanding accomplishments of its overall membership.
3. Published material about the non-resident, in any language provided it has been translated into English, in major trade or professional publications or major newspapers about the non-resident; this documentation must include the title, date, and author of the material:
Published materials about the non-resident must show that the non-resident’s work has been reported in detail by major media or national broadcast networks. The articles provided should include the title or date of the publications. Furthermore, AAO decisions have stated that no credence will be given to local publications; and little credence will be given to articles about productions/projects in which the non-resident was given little consideration in the article. A non-resident does not earn national or international praise by being a nameless cast member in a widely advertised play.
4. Documentation of the non-resident’s participation, either individually or as part of a group, as a judge of the work of peers in the same or similar area of expertise for which classification is pursued:
Documentation must supply proof of accounts as to how the events represent judging the work of peers. Additionally, all stated attendances must be documented.
5. Documentation of the non-resident’s original athletic, business-related, artistic, scientific, or scholarly contributions of major importance in the area of expertise:
Regarding contribution in the area of expertise, the AAO states that the evidence should not just show that the non-resident has been “successful“ in her area of expertise; the evidence should prove that the non-resident’s contributions in the area of expertise set her considerably above peers in her field.
6. Documentation of the non-resident’s authorship of academic articles in the area of expertise, in major trade or professional publications, or other major media:
The AAO has stated that when documentation of academic publications is submitted for an area of expertise in which it is typical for persons to publish articles, the publications may have insignificant value in proving that the applicant “is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top” of that area of expertise. Additionally, publications written by the non-resident must be published in nationally or internationally distributed periodicals.
7. Documentation of the presentation of the non-resident’s work in the area of expertise at artistic showcases or exhibitions:
Performing solo does not prove continued acclaim or extraordinary ability. If the client’s performances do not sell substantial amounts of tickets or otherwise attract sizeable audiences, then it is irrelevant that the client has performed solo.
8. Documentation that the non-resident has performed in a leading or significant role for associations or institutions that have a distinguished reputation:
Regarding documentation that the non-resident has performed in a leading or significant role for associations or institutions that have a distinguished reputation, AAO has explained that speaking engagements with associations or institutions are not satisfactory without documentation regarding the non-resident’s status within the association or that the association has a distinguished reputation.
Furthermore, the AAO has implied that even if the non-resident has performed a leading role in a production/project, further documentation must be submitted that the production/project was successful. Documentation that the non-resident is being considered for leading roles/projects will be given little or no importance since the documentation must establish suitability for EB-1 status at the time of filing.
9. Documentation that the non-resident has commanded a high salary or other notably high compensation for services, in relation to peers in the area of expertise.
District Court rulings held that whether the salary received by the non-resident is in line with the salary received by principal leaders in the area of expertise must be proven by a comparison to other individuals with a similar role, position, or expertise as the non-resident. For this comparison, factors other than capability must be considered in determining the non-resident’s relative salary. Additionally, documentation of receipt for high compensation for one performance/project is insufficient to warrant an overall conclusion that the non-resident consistently receives a high salary.
10. Documentation of commercial successes in the performing arts, as proven by box office receipts, or compact disk, cassette, video, or record sales.
Regarding documentation of commercial successes in the performing arts, the AAO maintains that this requirement is specially designed for the performing arts. Documentation of brief membership in a commercially-successful group will have little importance.
11. Other comparable documentation if the above types of documentation do not readily apply to the non-resident’s occupation.
Regulations leave the term “comparable documentation” undefined, providing flexibility to the employer and non-resident in an extraordinary ability case to document the non-resident’s qualifications. Under the requirements above, the USCIS retains the flexibility to require that more than three categories of documentation be submitted in a specific case.
Other Considerations: the AAO has confirmed that national recognition is sufficient to qualify for EB-1 status and a non-resident’s extraordinary ability must be judged by national standards in cases in which a person has not achieved international awards. In considering documentation regarding salary, for example, the USCIS should consider the non-resident’s salary in relation to peers engaged in the same type of pursuits in the country.