Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A)


“Extraordinary ability means a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.” The employee must be able to show “sustained” national or international acclaim (in other words, national or international acclaim on more than one occasion) and that his or her achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise.

The criteria by which Extraordinary Ability is proven is similar to that used for Outstanding Researchers, and comparable to that used to show EB-2 Exceptional Ability.

Individuals with Extraordinary Ability may “self-file” their I-140 petitions. Individuals who decide to “self-file” their EB-1 Extraordinary petitions must prepare their petitions themselves or with a help of an outside attorney.

The petition does not require that there be included an offer for employment in the United States – however, the petition must be accompanied by clear evidence that the individual is coming to the U.S. to continue work in the area of expertise. Such evidence might be a letter from a U.S. organization offering employment, evidence of prearranged commitments such as contracts, or a detailed explanation from the individual about how s/he intends to continue to work in the field of specialty in the U.S. Fermilab will assist you with the employer letter.


Below is a list of the types of documents or information that can show “Extraordinary Ability.” These items sometimes can be the difficult to obtain. Your attorney may have further suggestions.

  • Provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal).

Otherwise, you must meet at least 3 out of the 10 listed criteria below to prove extraordinary ability in your field:

  • 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

You also will need letters confirming that you are known to be “extraordinary” in your field in the U.S. or internationally. Please do not begin collecting your reference letters until you’ve discussed the case with your attorney. Sometimes the reference letters must include specific details, language, and dates.


Questions? Comments? Contact the Visa Office!