Extraordinary Ability

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Persons of “extraordinary ability,” “outstanding researchers or professors” or people in the “national interest” may apply for permanent resident status through the Extraordinary Ability program without applying for a labor certification from the Department of Labor, which can take years to obtain.

Extraordinary ability applicants do not need to be sponsored by an employer. “National Interest” applicants also do not need sponsorship. However, outstanding researchers must have an employment offer.

The extraordinary ability, called “EB-1A,” classification is available to a person who is one of the small percentage who has risen to the top of his/her field in the sciences, arts, or business.

The outstanding researchers and professors, called “EB-1B,” are classifications for researchers or professors who are recognized internationally as outstanding in a specific field and have at least three years of pertinent experience. The sponsoring employer must have at least three other full-time researchers and have achieved documented accomplishments in their field.

National Interest Waiver (NIW) green card applications, called “EB-2 NIW,” involve proving one will benefit the U.S. national interest. The criteria are vague but typically requires showing that one is exceptional. No job offer is needed – the applicant can sponsor themselves.


    NIW applicants need a master’s degree or qualify as a person of “exceptional” ability. These are a few criteria for exceptional ability:

    • To show that the alien is an alien of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, the petition must be accompanied by at least three of the following:
      • An official academic record showing that the alien 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;
      • Evidence in the form of letter(s) from current or former employer(s) showing that the alien has at least ten years of full-time experience in the occupation for which he or she is being sought;
      • A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation;
      • Evidence that the alien has commanded a salary, or other renumeration for services, which demonstrates exceptional ability;
      • Evidence of membership in professional associations; or
      • Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations.
      • If the above standards do not readily apply to the occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence to establish the beneficiary’s eligibility.


    Lawler & Lawler has been successful with many extraordinary ability, outstanding researcher and National Interest Waiver cases for scientists, engineers, business people, artists, biotechnologists, and doctors, among others.

    Here are a few examples of successful extraordinary ability, exceptional ability and NIW applications:

    Inventor researcher. This Ph.D. developed new cell culturing technology for cancer research which is being used by government medical research labs as well as private industry. He has patents pending and a few peer-reviewed publications.

    Entrepreneur. This businessman created a number of successful technology companies in Europe. He came to the U.S. with an E-2 visa to run his technology consulting company. He assists and advises a number of internet technology companies and is a frequent speaker, has won entrepreneurial awards, and has been written about and quoted in numerous articles.

    Professor of medical ethics. This professor has many peer-reviewed publications, has spoken at many international medical conferences, and advises hospitals and teach physicians and medical administrators various aspects of medical ethics.

    Strategy Executive.This executive has held prominent roles in numerous companies, published articles and spoken at international conferences, received awards, been interviewed and written about, and been appointed to prestigious boards.

    ScientistThis scientist has had articles written about her; spoken at scientific conferences, published articles, served as a peer reviewer for scientific journals, and holds a U.S. patent.

    PhD Chemical Biology.Rescheduling the immune system, and antibodies, with a few journal articles and advancing cell biology science.

    Software CEO who with an E-2 ran his company that developed new software to assist management communicate with employees.

    These are just a few more examples:

    • Software executives
    • Nuclear engineers
    • Cell biologists
    • Executives
    • Artists
    • Wine experts
    • Winemakers
    • Educators
    • Sports people
    • Software engineers
    • Dental professionals

    One can file both an extraordinary ability EB-1A and an EB-2 National Interest Waiver simultaneously, but Martin Lawler can help decide which one is better for you. He can also advise on the needed documents.

Steps for obtaining Permanent Resident Status (green card) for people with extraordinary achievements, outstanding researchers, and those in the national interest

  • Step 1

    Lawler & Lawler analyzes qualifications of individual, job and employer (which is only necessary for outstanding researchers) to determine eligibility.

  • Step 2

    Gather documents to prove qualifications.

  • Step 3

    Lawler & Lawler assists with the preparation of endorsement letters from industry leaders which are important to document the applicant's achievements and explain how he/she will benefit the United States.

  • Step 4

    Prepare and send visa petition (Form I-140) to USCIS with supporting documents. In some cases, Step 7 may be filed with this step.

  • Step 5

    Receipt is issued.

  • Step 6

    Receive decision on petition.

  • Step 7

    File adjustment of status application (I-485) and supporting documents with USCIS if applicant is in the U.S. and priority date is current.

  • Step 8

    Apply for immigrant visa at American Consul if the applicant is overseas and priority date is current. Some people in U.S. may choose this option.

We Are A Law Firm Specializing In United States Visas


Extraordinary Ability

  • National Interest Waiver
  • Outstanding Researchers & Professors