There are many reasons why people from across the world want to come to the U.S. Visiting friends and family, sightseeing, participating in competitions, or starting a new life are a few of these reasons. If you are among those interested in moving to the U.S. permanently, there may be a few different options available to you. Those lucky enough may win the so-called green card lottery. Others may have a close relative or an employer in the U.S. willing to file a petition on their behalf.
But what about those who have no one in the U.S. to petition for them? If you find yourself in that situation, all hope is not lost. In fact, a person may be eligible to self-petition for an immigrant visa. Self-petition means that the applicant does not need an employer or a family member to sponsor them. Such self-petitions are generally limited to individuals with extraordinary or exceptional abilities. We will further discuss this option below.
What Are Extraordinary and Exceptional Abilities
Under the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) guidelines, extraordinary and exceptional abilities are divided into two different categories. Also, a different visa category is assigned to each set off abilities.
Those who can show extraordinary or exceptional abilities may qualify to self-petition for employment based immigrant visas (EB-1 or EB-2). Those who are granted EB-1 or EB-2 visas can then travel to the U.S. and obtain permanent resident status (Green Card). These two visa categories are discussed further below.
Permanent Residence in the U.S. with Extraordinary Abilities (EB-1 Visa)
Official academic record showing that the applicant has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability
Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in the applicant’s occupation
A license to practice applicant’s profession or certification for the profession or occupation
Evidence that the applicant has commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates the exceptional ability
Membership in a professional association(s)
Recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
Other comparable evidence of eligibility
National Interest Waiver
As noted above, a self-petitioning applicant for an EB-2 visa must also show that he or she qualifies for a national interest waiver. National interest waivers are usually granted to those who not only have exceptional ability but their employment in the U.S. would greatly benefit the nation. Since the jobs that qualify for a national interest waiver are not defined by statute, the USCIS has adopted a three-prong test for evaluating waiver requests based on precedent decisions. These three prongs are defined below.
Under the first prong, the applicant must show that he or she plans on working in the U.S. in an area of substantial intrinsic merit. The focus of this prong is on the importance of the proposed work. To demonstrate this, the following evidence can be used:
A letter from the applicant and/or his or her company describing the work and its importance
Articles or other published media discussing applicant and/or his or her company’s work and its importance
Letters from experts in the field attesting to applicant’s work and its importance (Note that testimonial letters should include information about the expert’s own credentials)
Under the second prong, the applicant must show that the proposed impact of his or her work is national in scope. Although the applicant’s employment might be limited to a particular geographic area, he or she still needs to establish that the benefits are to more than a particular region of the country. The following evidence can be used to meet this prong:
Published articles or media reports
Copies of contracts, agreements, or licenses showing the scope and impact
Letters from current and former employers discussing the applicant’s work and its national importance
Letters from experts in the field attesting to the applicant’s work and its national importance (Once again, note that testimonial letters should include information about the expert’s own credentials)
Under the third prong, the applicant must show that granting the waiver would benefit the national interests of the U.S. The purpose of this prong is to ensure that the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers employed in the same field as the applicant will not be adversely affected. Strong evidence to support this prong would be to show that your work will create jobs for U.S. workers. Other evidence that can be used to support this prong would be the following:
Copies of published articles that cite or otherwise recognize the applicant’s achievements
Copies of grants or other funding you received listing the amount and terms of the grants, as well as the principal and co-investigators
Documents showing how the applicant’s work is being implemented by others, such as contracts with companies using the applicant or his or her company’s products, documents showing licensed technology that the applicant or his or her company invented or co-invented and how that licensed technology is being used by others, or patents or licenses awarded to the applicant or his or her company with documents showing how they are being used and why they are significant in the field
It is important to note that every case is different and not all of the applicable rules and regulations could be listed in this post. If you are interested in learning more about self-petitioning for an immigrant visa based on extraordinary or exceptional abilities, contact us at 1-844-HOLBORN and one of our immigration attorneys will be happy to assist you.
Disclaimer: This post is meant for general informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as legal advice. Holborn Law APC does not endorse any linked content. As with any laws, the information in this blog post may change at any time and may apply differently in different jurisdictions. The post may constitute Attorney Advertising as defined by the rules of professional responsibility of some jurisdictions. Holborn Law is based in Orange County and Riverside.The attorneys of Holborn Law APC are active members of the State Bar of California and licensed to practice law in California. All services relating to immigration and naturalization provided by Holborn Law APC are provided by active members of the State Bar of California or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar of California.