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Important updates for EB-1 visa eligibility criteria

by | Oct 3, 2023 | Immigration & Global Mobility Practice

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its EB-1 visa criteria to clarify the evidence required for applicants seeking extraordinary ability visas and outstanding professor or researcher visas. The USCIS hopes the update will help applicants provide better, more relevant examples of their expertise to reduce rejections and expedite approval.

Additionally, the agency has provided new information about how they evaluate and judge evidence so applicants can better frame their background to improve their chances. These amended guidelines were written with applicants specializing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in mind.

Extraordinary ability visas

To review, people applying for this visa must:

  • Have sustained national or international acclaim.
  • Intend to continue working in their area of expertise.
  • Engage in work that substantially benefits the United States.

The description of acceptable evidence is lengthy, but USCIS is quick to point out that acceptable evidence can be as little as a one-time, high-profile achievement, like a Nobel Prize, or at least three out of the ten regulatory criteria or comparable criteria, such as authoring articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media.

The guidelines also warn that “voluminous documentation may not contain sufficient persuasive evidence to establish the beneficiary’s eligibility.” In short, applicants should consider their evidence objectively and carefully, demonstrating that they are part of a small group at the top of their respective fields.

You do not need a job offer to apply for this visa.

Outstanding professor or researcher visas

Applicants must possess “a body of specialized knowledge offered for study at an accredited U.S. university or institution of higher education” and recognition by their peers as a global expert in their field.

Applicants must submit evidence satisfying at least two of the six regulatory criterion. These criteria include a published piece in a qualifying publication, written by another, about the applicant’s work in their field and their original research contributions.

They must also have at least three years of teaching or researching experience in their field and obtain a job offer of tenure-track or permanent employment from a qualifying U.S. employer.

Even with these USCIS updates intended to make the application process more transparent, applying for these visas is laborious and challenging. If your prospective employer or another entity is not prepared to assist you in this process, consider consulting an immigration attorney to increase your chances for a successful application.