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Immigration Law

The EB-1 'Extraordinary Ability' Green Card: Subjective, Difficult

"Legal experts say that ever since the EB-1 program was implemented in 1990, there has been confusion about what qualifies as "extraordinary" or "outstanding."  In a 2010 paper, immigration lawyers Chris Gafner of New York City and Stephen Yale-Loehr of Ithaca, N.Y., wrote about the debate over whether one merely needed to meet the minimum amount of criteria to qualify for the visa or if an adjudicator was necessary to decide each case.  Over the years, an adjudicator the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service employs has emerged as the standard procedure, although Mr. Yale-Loehr said there are critics of that approach.  "It is subjective," he said in a recent interview, because each applicant must pass a sort of a "qualitative test" to determine if the candidate is truly extraordinary.  "Oftentimes, the agency says 'No, even though you meet the three out of 10 criteria, we still don't think you're extraordinary enough.' " ... Mr. Yale-Loehr recalled encountering trouble while representing a Chinese film director seeking an EB-1-1 visa.  Despite having won the Chinese equivalent of an Oscar, the applicant was pestered for more specific documentation.  The application eventually was approved, but Mr. Yale-Loehr called the experience "nasty," adding that success often does depend on the field of the applicant." - Wesley Yiin, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 13, 2014.