USCIS Updates Guidance in Extraordinary Ability and Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visa Classifications

April 25, 2022

By Immigration Group

This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 23, 2022, that it has updated its policy manual, effective immediately, to align existing guidance on certain first preference immigrants with a recent manual update relating to nonimmigrants of extraordinary ability. Specifically, USCIS is updating its guidance about two evidentiary criteria relating to immigrants of extraordinary ability and one relating to outstanding professors and researchers “to more closely align with recently issued nonimmigrant guidance pertaining to O-1A nonimmigrants of extraordinary ability,” the agency said.

The updated guidance clarifies that:

  • For the extraordinary ability and outstanding professor or researcher classifications, “published material” about the person (or the person’s work in the case of an outstanding professor or researcher) in professional or major trade publications or other major media need not be a printed article; rather, a petitioner may submit more varied forms of evidence including a transcript of audio or video coverage.
  • In the extraordinary ability classification, a person may satisfy the leading or critical role criterion through a qualifying role for a distinguished department or division in addition to an entire organization or establishment.