Immigrant (Permanent Resident) Visas
The Path to a Green Card for Athletes and Entertainers: EB-1a
One option for an athlete or entertainer to obtain permanent resident (green card) status is if he or she can qualify for an EB-1a immigrant visa as a person of extraordinary ability. This category is for foreign nationals engaged in the arts, sciences, business, education or athletics who have reached the very top of their field of endeavor. The eligibility requirements are similar to the O-1 temporary visa, except a higher standard is usually applied.
This is one of the few categories that does not require an employer to sponsor the foreign national; the foreign national can petition or apply on his/her own as long as the foreign national can show that he/she will continue in work of extraordinary ability in the U.S.
To qualify for the EB-1 extraordinary ability, the foreign national must have won a prize or an award such as the Nobel Prize, or provide documentation in three of the following areas:
- Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence;
- Membership in associations in the field that demand outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
- Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications;
- Evidence that the alien is a judge of the work of others in the field;
- Evidence of the alien’s original contributions of major significance to the field;
- Authorship of scholarly articles;
- Display of the alien’s work at artistic exhibitions or showcases;
- Evidence the alien has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation;
- Evidence that the alien commands a high salary in relation to others in the field; or
- Evidence of commercial success in the performing arts.
Even if the foreign national is able to provide documentation in at least 3 of these categories, he must also demonstrate that he is one of the few who have reached the very top of his field and has sustained national or international acclaim.
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