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The Extraordinary Ability category is one of the fastest methods for obtaining permanent residence because there is no requirement for a PERM Labor Certification, or a job offer from a U.S.-based employer.  Preparing the petition can be an intensive process and the criteria can be difficult to meet.

There are very specific types of evidence which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will accept as proof of your extraordinary ability. Please keep in mind that “extraordinary ability means a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor, and therefore is not easily obtained.” The regulations require that an individual who seeks classification as a person of extraordinary ability must submit at least three of the following types of proof that you have sustained national or international acclaim and that your achievements have been recognized in your field of expertise:

  1. A major internationally recognized award (e.g. Nobel Prize or Oscar);
  2. Documentation of your receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or award for excellence in the field of endeavor;
  3. Documentation of your membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought (art or architecture), which membership requires outstanding achievements of its members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or files;
  4. Published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media, relating to your work in the field for which classification is sough (art or architecture). This evidence must include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translations;
  5. Evidence that you have participated, either individually or on a panel, as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specification for which classification is sought;
  6. Evidence of your original artistic contributions of major significance in the fields of art or architecture;
  7. Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
  8. Evidence of the display of your work in at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
  9. Evidence that you have performed a leading or critical role for organization or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  10. Evidence that you have commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, in relation to others in the field; or
  11. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts, or record, cassette, compact disc or video sales.

We must also submit evidence that you will continue to work in the field of business once you are granted permanent resident status. We can submit letters from prospective employers or even a statement from you detailing your plans for continuing your work here to meet this requirement.


The types of evidence submitted in support of your application fall into three categories: testimonial (reference letters that explain your achievements and their significance in your field), corroborating (copies of documentation that established your achievements, such as publications or awards), and cover letter explaining your eligibility for the petition seeking.\

    1. Provide a list of referees with their contact information and brief description about how you know the referees.
    2. Letters of reference templates for each of your referees will be drafted by our office with the information you provide about your expertise and the reference.
    3. You provide information in the form of a “personal statement”, samples of which are attached. This statement is for our internal use only, and is not included in nor submitted with the petition. It is merely for our records, to provide significant details for us to draft letters.
    4. Note that this petition is not a peer-review process; therefore information provided should be comprehensible to the “average person”.
    5. Your personal statement should be provided in electronic format (visa email), with your most up-to-date CV attached, also in electronic format.
    6. Our office will draft 5 reference letter templates. Once these reference letters are drafted they will be sent to you to review for accuracy.
    7. Once the reference letters are finalized, we will send them to your referees, to be reviewed, printed on letterhead, and signed. We will advise your referees to attach their full CV to establish their credentials.

IMPORTANT! Selecting Appropriate Referees

  • Letter of reference convey the weight of your achievements.
  • Letter from prestigious institutions that make a stronger impact on your
  • Geographical and institutional diversity is important.
  • A referee should be an objective independent source: referee does not have to know you personally; it may be better if they only know you by your reputation.
    1. This documentation needs to be submitted to our office as hard copies, in addition to electronic files if available.
    2. This primary source documentation will corroborate the information detailed in your personal statement and in the letters.
    3. Your CV is not considered evidence. If something is important enough to be on your CV, you should provide us with the primary source evidence.
    4. Translations – Regulations require any document not submitted in English to be translated. Word-for-word translations of short documents are necessary.
    5. Copies are always sufficient; we do not need originals.
    6. The more corroborating documentation the better, so send everything you can and we will sort through and decide what to use.

*Translation should be attached to un-translated documents. We will advise you regarding longer documents, such as articles and manuscripts.

  • Examples:
    1. Degree/diploma certificates;
    2. Patents;
    3. Awards/Honors, including the criteria for the award or honors;
    4. Grant Applications/Awards, including the criteria for the grant or award;
    5. Professional memberships/criteria for membership;
    6. Publications;
    7. Publication citations;
    8. Abstract presentations;
    9. Evidence that you have served as a reviewer and/or judge of others’ work;
    10. Invitation letters and emails to professional meetings and memberships;
    11. Request for reprints;
    12. Media reports;
    13. Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field;
    14. Performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations; and
    15. Employment verification letter stating your current job title and annual salary if available.

Even if you do not have a document, please still include the information in your personal statement.

IMPORTANT! Preparing Corroborating Documentation


  1. Provide copies of all first author & last (senior) author article (entire articles)
  2. For books authored or edited, full copies are not needed. Provide copies of the book’s title and the table of contents.
  3. Any documents not in English, must have a copy of the original version with attached certified translation (just an abstract and title).


  1. Provide copies of all published abstracts.
  2. Provide copies of all conference proceedings, or conference brochure highlighting your presentation.
  3. Provide copies of emails or letters regarding acceptance, invitation, or appreciation.
  4. Any documents not in English, must have a copy of the original version with attached certified translation (just an abstract and title).


Citations & reference to your work/findings; acknowledgements to you or your work; websites discussing your work; press releases about your work; discussion of your work in the media; newspaper articles about you or your work; and newsletters mentioning you and your contribution to the field.

  1. Provide copies of any material notes above.
  2. Highlight where you or your work is referenced/discussed.
  3. Include printouts from websites that discuss you/your work.
  4. Citations:
    • For each of your publications, provide a complete official list of citations to your work. These lists should be directly printed out from an official search engine (e.g. Web of Science, Scopus, SciFinder, and etc.) Provide a separate list for each publication, which refers to that publication, shows the total number of citations to that publication, and lists the title of each citing article.
    • Highlight where in the article it discusses your work, and where your name is listed.


  1. Appointment letters/emails;
  2. Copies of Contracts;
  3. Offer letters.


Manuscript/peer reviewer/grant reviewer; review articles/textbook chapters; editorials/letters to the editor; moderator/chair of presentations/panels, advisory boards/committees; or seat on editorial board.

IMPORTANT! Documentation:
  • Emails/letters acknowledging role;
  • Copies of editorials/chapters/reviews noting authorship;
  • For textbooks, do not provide the entire book. Provide the table of contents and your chapter/article;
  • Website printouts noting your role/title/position;
  • Excerpt from conference brochure noting position as moderator, etc.


  • Provide selection criteria/process for selection
  • What was the basis for the award?
  • What entity granted the award?
  • With whom were you in competition?
  • How many of such awards were granted?
  • Any publicity for the award?
  1. Example of Awards
  • Research funding in your name;
  • Travel grants to attend or present at conference;
  • Best presentation/poster;
IMPORTANT! Documentation:
  • Copies of the award, copies of selection criteria;
  • Copies of the grant, listing you as an investigator;
  • Copies of patent submissions/awards;
  • Copies of publicity for the award.


    1. Academic honor societies;
    2. Certifying societies;
    3. Societies that require nomination and/or election consider:
  • What are the criteria for obtaining membership?
  • What is the selection process?
  • How many members does the society have?
IMPORTANT! Documentation:
  • Proof of membership.
  • Copy of blank application used to apply for the membership
  • Documentation of membership criteria (from website).
  1. Letters of cover letter will be drafted by our office according to the information you provide about your expertise.
  2. Once the cover letter is drafted, it will be sent to you to review for accuracy.

If you would like further information or to discuss a potential case, please call our office at 404.816.8611 to set an appointment with one of our experienced immigration attorneys, or you schedule your consultation online here.

DISCLAIMER: The confidential information provided in this memorandum is for information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. This information is not intended to create an attorney-client or other relationship between Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC and the recipient. The reader should consult with an immigration attorney before acting in reliance on any such information.