Although it is technically classified as an employment visa, the Extraordinary Ability Visa is not tied to a job, but to an individual. Successful applicants are truly unique individuals that have a world-class mastery in a particular field.

According to the statute, the applicant must show “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.” To demonstrate “extraordinary ability” an applicant must either have won a top tier award, such as a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer, Oscar, or Olympic Medal, or provide 3 of the 10 items below:

  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
  • Evidence of membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members.
  • Evidence of published material about the individual in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  • Evidence that he or she has been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel.
  • Evidence of his or her original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field.
  • Evidence of his or her authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  • Evidence that his or her work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  • Evidence of his or her performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.
  • Evidence that he or she commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.
  • Evidence of his or her commercial successes in the performing arts.

Getting an Extraordinary Ability Visa is very difficult because the requirements are so exacting. During each of the past few years, only a few thousand Extraordinary Ability Visas were granted. Individuals may apply for an Extraordinary Ability Visa with or without a specific job lined up but must only intend to keep working in the field they are excelling in.

The immediate family members of people who are granted an Extraordinary Ability Visa may also apply for permanent residency. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are generally granted permission to accompany the visa holder, and may legally reside, work, and study in the United States. After five years, the visa holder and his or her spouse and children are typically able to apply for citizenship.

Applicants who are interested in applying for an Extraordinary Ability Visa but are not sure they can meet the demands should discuss their background with an experienced immigration attorney. An attorney can advise applicants about other types of visas that may be easier to obtain.  Contact our office today for a consultation relating to your Extraordinary Ability Visa or other immigration matter.