Extraordinary Ability and Special Qualifications

How we help our clients:

U.S. Immigration has two main categories: permanent residence visas (also called “immigrant visas” or “green cards”) and temporary residence visas (also called “nonimmigrant visas”).

For workers with extraordinary ability, the EB-1 category for “aliens with extraordinary ability” is the categories most often used to qualify for a green card. 

To qualify for the EB-1 green card as an Alien with Extraordinary Ability, an applicant must prove all of the following:

A worker who is extraordinary or has special qualifications can also qualify for a green card it the EB-2 or EB-3 categories.  These are:

The EB-2 and EB-3 green card categories usually first require a preliminary step called, PERM Labor Certification.  In this step, the employer must show the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that it cannot find a qualified and available U.S. worker to do the job that it wants to give the foreign worker.  The employer must also agree to offer a wage that matches or exceeds the “prevailing wage rate” paid by others in the area (based on government salary survey) or the wage paid by the employer to other workers in the same job at the employer’s business.  The purpose is to make sure that the employer is not taking advantage of the foreign worker and paying less than what it would cost to employ U.S. workers.  A foreign worker cannot be employed by the employer during step 1 unless the foreign worker has a temporary visa that permits employment.  This step generally takes about 1 year, though processing time can be over 2 years if the case is audited by the DOL.

A worker who is extraordinary or has special qualifications can also qualify for a green card in the EB-2 and can avoid PERM Labor Certification, if the worker can show:

The most common temporary visas for foreign-born individuals with extraordinary ability or special qualifications are as follows:

O-1 Visas for Aliens with Extraordinary Ability who are seeking temporary employment.  This visa is issued for up to three years and can be renewed in one-year increments.  This visa requires an employer or an agent in the U.S. to file the visa petition.   The employer or agent must show that the foreign-born individual has extraordinary qualifications in his or her field of endeavor.  The standard for artists is less difficult than the standard for athletes and coaches.    

H-1B Visas for Workers in Specialty Occupations, which permit employment of professional level workers by a sponsoring employer.  The visa is issued for up to three years and can be renewed another three years (additional renewals are possible in some cases).  This visa is not that common for investors, but can be useful if the investor does not qualify or an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa.  The investor would essentially be an employee of his or her own business. Note that the investor must be employed in a position that normally requires a university degree and must have earned a university degree or the equivalent in education and work experience. 

Jaensch Immigration Law Firm is experienced in all of these green card and temporary visas.