USCIS Proposes New Guidance for Extraordinary Ability Visas

USCIS Proposes New Guidance for Extraordinary Ability Visas4

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have released draft guidance on how it will consider evidence supporting O-1 immigration applicants, which cover people with extraordinary abilities in science, education, business, athletics, and the arts, by clarifying how it will weigh supporting information for an application.

The new guidelines should eliminate some ambiguity on O-1 applications by creating a more specific set of circumstances under which evidence may be considered by the agency.

Existing Guidelines require evidence in three categories:

  1. National or international major awards in the applicant’s field;
  2. The applicant’s ability to present evidence that he or she meets a specific set of criteria;
  3. Comparable evidence in the event the specific set of criteria doesn’t fit a person’s occupation.

The new draft guidelines would create an approach where applicants could submit comparable evidence from the third category for each unmet criterion in the second category.

This proposed clarification for O-1 visas follows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s proposed regulation made just before the new year, which aims to boost job portability for certain high-skilled immigrants in the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories. This should improve the process for immigrants with extraordinary abilities, advanced degrees, or for those who are classified as skilled workers or non-temporary workers with jobs for which there are not enough qualified U.S. employees.

The DHS is seeking to amend its regulations so that immigrant visa petitions that have been approved for at least 180 days would not be subject to automatic revocation due to an end of the petitioner’s business or a withdrawal by the petitioner. This would protect some foreign workers who have approved immigrant visa petitions but who can’t receive the visas because of the large backlog.

Berardi Immigration Law processes dozens of O-1 petitions each year. If you are interested in applying for an O-1 visa, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!

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