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Thinking About Filing an EB-1A Case? The USCIS releases statistics for 2010-11

Posted on Friday, August 5, 2011

Two common obstacles for foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the U.S. are the need for a willing employer and the tedious and time-consuming labor certification process. The EB-1A immigration classification is one option enabling certain highly-qualified aliens to self-sponsor and thereby bypass both hurdles.

Individuals who wish to qualify for permanent residence through the EB-1A category must show that they possess a level of expertise indicating that they belong to that small percentage that have risen to the very top in their field of endeavor, including the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. In order to meet this legal standard, the foreign national must establish sustained national or international acclaim, and demonstrate that his or her achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise.

EB-1A petitions must include evidence that the foreign national has won a major internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize or Academy Award, or that he or she meets at least three of 10 criteria outlined in the regulations. The 2010 Kazarian decision in U.S. District Court further raised the bar for favorable decisions by adding a second-level evaluation of the candidate's overall record called a "final merits analysis".

The level of scrutiny for these applications is very high, and it is common for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to respond with a formal "Request for Additional Evidence" before issuing a final decision. USCIS recently released statistics on EB-1A visas for Persons of Extraordinary Ability for FY 2010 and FY 2011 through 7/19/11. During this period, RFEs were requested in about half of all cases.

Of all EB-1A petitions adjudicated during this 21 month period, about 60% were approved. It is projected that applications filed in FY 2011 will reflect about a 6% decrease vs. the 5,414 filed in FY 2010, but the approval rate and percent of RFEs issued appears to be stable despite the additional "final merits analysis". For more information on the criteria for establishing extraordinary ability, please click here.

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