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(#127-05/16/00)

Green Card for Extraordinary Abilities


Aliens of "extraordinary" ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics are able to qualify for green cards without a job offer if
  1. the alien intends to enter the US to work in the field in which he or she has earned extraordinary status, and
  2. the INS finds that the alien's admission as a permanent resident will "substantially benefit" the US.

Extraordinary ability means a level of expertise found only in that small percentage of persons who have risen to the very top of their respective fields. Normally this means top 10% in the filed. The key in this type of case is to define the "field" narrowly.

Aliens eligible for this category will have demonstrated a major achievement such as an internationally recognized award (e.g. Nobel Prize) or three of the following:

  • lesser national or international award for excellence in the field of alien's intended US employment;
  • membership in association(s) in alien's field that require members to have demonstrated outstanding achievements as judged by acknowledged experts;
  • published material about the alien in major professional or trade publications
  • selection of alien to judge others in the same or allied field;
  • original contributions of importance in the alien's field;
  • publication under alien's name of scholarly articles in professional/trade publications or broadcast media;
  • display of alien's work in artistic exhibitions;
  • performance of leading roles for distinguished organizations or institutions;
  • high salary in relation to others in alien's filed;
  • commercial success in the performing arts (box office receipts, recordings, videos, etc.)
  • other evidence that alien thinks is helpful, such as support letters

This type of case does not need to obtain "labor certification" from the US Department of Labor, so the process is relatively fast. In addition, the alien does not need a sponsor.

Step 1 is to file the INS petition (Form I-140). The INS at the California Service Center is currently taking about 1 year to process this type of application.

Step 2 would be to set up a green card interview in Tokyo since your mother lives in Japan. This takes approximately 4 more months after the INS approves the case.

If your mother does not qualify as extraordinary, she would have to find a US employer who wants to employ her and is willing to file a labor certification application on her behalf. Labor certification must prove that US workers were not available for the full-time job. This procedure will add at least another 6 months to 1 year to the above processing time.

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