Specific Evidence Demonstrating Extraordinary Ability for the EB-1A Green Card


Specific Evidence Demonstrating Extraordinary Ability for the EB-1A Green Card


You can show that you have extraordinary ability by satisfying either one of two types of evidence:  you may demonstrate evidence of a one-time, major international award, (such as the Nobel Prize or an Olympic Gold Medal) or in the absence of this level of award recognition, you may also show your extraordinary ability by providing proof of three of ten other criteria demonstrating extraordinary ability, as discussed in detail in the section below.

How can I prove that I received a major internationally recognized award?


Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that the award is a major, internationally recognized award includes:


  • The criteria used to grant the award
  • The significance of the award in the field
  • The reputation of the organization or the panel granting the award
  • Previous winners of the award who enjoyed international acclaim at the time of receiving the award
  • The award attracts competition from internationally recognized individuals in the field


How can I prove that I have extraordinary ability, even though I have not received a major international award?


If you have not received a major internationally recognized award, then you may demonstrate three of the following ten criteria below:

Evidence of receipt of a lesser national/international recognized award for excellence in the field of endeavor.  Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that the award is a national or internationally recognized award includes:


  • A copy or photograph of each prize or award
  • Public announcement(s) or articles about the awards
  • Documentation verifying the origination, purpose, significance and scope of each award
  • The reputation of the organization or panel granting the prizes or award
  • Criteria used to nominate and judge the participants and award winners
  • The reputation of the organization or panel granting the prizes or awards
  • How many prizes or awards are awarded each year
  • Previous winners of each award

Evidence of membership in associations requiring outstanding achievements of its members, as judged by recognized national/international experts in their fields.  Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that you are a member of an association which requires outstanding achievements of its members includes:


  • Documents describing the association’s goals, mission, size, target membership, and standing within the national and international community
  • Documents showing the minimum requirements and criteria used for membership in the association
  • Evidence of national or international experts who make determinations about membership
  • Other relevant requirements for membership

Published material in professional/major trade publications or other major media relating to the noncitizen’s work. Evidence should include title, date and author of the material, and any necessary translations. Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that material has been published about you and your work in the field, in professional or major trade publications or major media includes:


  • Copies of the publications, including the name, title, date, and author
  • Documents showing the significance of the published material
  • Circulation information for the publication, including the number of copies in circulation, scope of publication (local, national or international), and frequency of publication
  • Any other published material, outside the scope of marketing materials created to sell your products or promote your company

Evidence of participation, either individually or on a panel, as a judge of others’ work in the same or related field.  Judging high profiled competitions in the applicant’s field will count towards satisfying this criterion. Lower level, local competitions or competitions unrelated to the applicant’s field will not carry much weight.  Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that you participated on a panel or judged the works of others includes:


  • Documents about the event or panel and the significance of the work judged
  • Information about the criteria used to select the individual judges
  • An explanation of how and why you received an invitation to be a judge

Evidence of original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic or business-related contributions of major significance in the field.  Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that you have made an original scientific, scholarly or business-related contribution of major significance includes:

  • Evidence of your work being implemented by others such as:
  • Objective documentary evidence of the significance of your contribution to the field (e.g. patents, pioneering new technology, etc.)
  • Documentary evidence that people in the field of endeavor currently consider your work important
  • Testimony or support letters from experts that discuss your contributions of major significance, which could include:
  • Letters of recommendation from prominent investors or CEO’s/founders of distinguished organizations which describe, in detail, your achievements and how they are of a major significance in the field
  • Evidence that your significant contributions have provoked widespread public commentary in the field of endeavor and have been widely cited
  • If your business successes are primarily based online, information about website usage/visitor traffic, the number of online purchases or downloads, or other data showing your success and contributions online
  • Note that patents will only be given weight if a patent has been granted and if the noncitizen can show that the patent has had impact on the field/has been widely adopted (e.g. a patent being licensed and commercialized).
  • Generally, the best evidence is recommendation letters from independent experts who can discuss using or being influenced by the applicant’s research.

Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in professional/major trade publications or other major media in the field.  Some of the evidence you may submit, in addition to a copy of the articles, to demonstrate that you have authored articles in professional journals or other major media includes:


  • Other articles or documentary evidence (e.g. letters, affidavits) that show the significance and importance of the articles in your field
  • Evidence that demonstrates the work was primarily created by you
  • The significance and importance of the professional or major trade publications or other major media in which your scholarly article was published, which may be shown by:
    • The publication’s circulation (e.g. local, national or international)
    • How often the publication is produced
    • The number of citations to your written workThere is no minimum publication requirement. USCIS judges the publications submitted on a case-by-case basis, and quality rather than quantity is given more weight. In addition, the number of citations the articles have received is taken into consideration.

Evidence of the display of work at artistic exhibitions or showcases in the field. This is usually for an artist’s work.  Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that your work was displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases includes:

  • Documents showing that the displayed work was created by you
  • Documents showing that the venue (virtual or otherwise) was an artistic exhibition or showcase
  • Copies of promotional materials, with distribution information

Evidence of having a leading/critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputation. Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that you have been employed in a critical or essential capacity for an organization that has a distinguished reputation includes:

  • Letters from current or former employer(s) with specific details regarding your role and how it was critical or essential, with emphasis on the specific accomplishments, how the accomplishments are attributed to you and your role, and why these accomplishments are important
  • Documents showing the distinguished reputation of the company or companies where you played a critical or essential role
  • Any other documents showing your major contributions in a critical or essential role
  • Letters and documentation verifying the leading/critical role as well as information regarding the organization or establishment’s distinguished reputation must be submitted.

Evidence of holding a high salary or significantly high remuneration for services compared to others in the respective field.  Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that you command or have commanded a high salary or other remuneration for your services includes:


  • Copies of employment contracts detailing the salary you were paid or will be paid
  • Copies of payroll documents or tax returns detailing the wage you were paid
  • Evidence establishing that you have received other significant forms of compensation for your services, which may include, but is not limited to, equity in-lieu of cash remuneration, deferred compensation, profits from the sale of a business you started, or other forms of remuneration in addition to salary
  • A statistical comparison of the salaries in the field in which you are starting your business from a government or private institution, or similar organization, that shows the salary or other remuneration you commanded, or will command, is higher than that commanded by others in the field
  • Usually, an annual salary and bonus that is higher than $1,000,000 is considered significant.

Evidence of commercial success in the performing arts, such as box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk or video sales. This criterion is for singers, performing artists, musicians and movie stars.

  • The evidence must show that the volume of sales and box office receipts reflect commercial success relative to others involved in similar pursuits in the performing arts.

I understand that USCIS requires that I also prove that I will continue with activities utilizing my extraordinary ability, and that it will benefit the United States.  How can I demonstrate this?


In addition to proving your extraordinary ability, you must show that you seek to enter the U.S. to continue work in the field of your extraordinary ability and that you will substantially benefit the U.S.


Some evidence that may show that you hold these intents are:

  • Letters from current or prospective employers
  • Documents evidencing your prearranged commitments (e.g. contracts)
  • A statement detailing your plans on how you intend to continue working in your field in the United States


How will USCIS evaluate my evidence of extraordinary ability?

If you are able to show that you meet at least three of the above regulatory criteria, USCIS will then review all of the evidence in the record in its totality to determine if it is more likely than not that you have sustained national or international acclaim and are one of that small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.  As such, it is important to show, for example, the significance of the work of others you judged, the significance and importance of the scholarly works you created, and the degree to which the salary or other remuneration you commanded (or will command) was higher than others in your field.

The stronger the evidence is in terms of your achievements in the field compared to others, the more efficiently and accurately USCIS can process your petition.  In this way, the USCIS has a some level of discretionary power to deny or approve EB-1A cases even if the applicant demonstrates extraordinary ability and provides three types of evidence.

If you feel that you meet the EB-1A requirements and would like to file an employment-based petition for permanent residency, you should consider filing a petition as a Noncitizen of Extraordinary Ability, our experienced Los Angeles immigration attorneys can help you complete your petition and compile the best evidence to prove that you meet all of the USCIS requirements for the EB-1A green card.    [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]

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