The O-1A visa is a non-immigrant visa that is designed for individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, business, athletics, or education. However, to be eligible for this visa, you must meet certain criteria, including demonstrating that you have made original contributions of major significance to your field. This criterion is laid out in 8 CFR 204.5(h)(3)(v), which requires USCIS officers to evaluate whether your work constitutes major, significant contributions to your field. Simply having published or funded work is not sufficient to establish that your work is of major significance. Instead, USCIS officers will consider other factors, such as peer-reviewed presentations or articles that have received widespread commentary or notice from others in the field. The immigration attorneys at the Chicago law office of Zneimer & Zneimer have analyzed the requirements through appellate decisions and regulations.
In order to satisfy this criterion, a petitioner must establish not only that the beneficiary has made original contributions but that they have been of major significance in the field. For example, it may support the record with evidence that a beneficiary’s contributions have been widely implemented, have remarkably impacted or influenced the field, or have otherwise risen to a level of major significance in the field. Demonstrating ability as a skilled worker, or a specialist with unique or advanced skills is not itself a contribution of major significance; rather, the Petitioner must demonstrate that the Beneficiary has impacted the field as a whole. the Beneficiary’s possession of unique skills is recognized as an original contribution of major significance in the field. Having a diverse or unusual skillset does not equate to an “original contribution.” Rather, the record must be supported by evidence that the Beneficiary has already used those unique skills to make original contributions of major significance in the field. The documentation must show the widespread implementation of the Beneficiary’s work, that it has been seminal, or that it otherwise equates to an original contribution of major significance in the field.
Expert opinion letters can be helpful in demonstrating the significance of your contributions. However, not all letters are created equal. USCIS officers will only consider letters that specifically articulate how your contributions are of major significance to the field and its impact on subsequent work. Letters that lack specifics and simply use hyperbolic language will not be considered probative evidence.
- Although funded and published work may be “original,” this fact alone is not sufficient to establish that the work is of major significance. For example, peer-reviewed presentations at academic symposia or peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals that have provoked widespread commentary or received notice from others working in the field, or entries (particularly a goodly number) in a citation index which cite the applicant’s work as authoritative in the field, may be probative of the significance of the alien’s contributions to the field of endeavor
One way to do this is by demonstrating that your work has been widely recognized and cited by others in the field. For example, peer-reviewed presentations at academic symposia or peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals that have provoked widespread commentary or received notice from others working in the field may be probative evidence of the significance of an applicant’s contributions. In addition, entries in a citation index that cite an applicant’s work as authoritative in the field can also be probative evidence. A citation index is a database that tracks citations of scholarly works and can be used to demonstrate the impact and influence of an applicant’s work within their field.
- USCIS officers may also take into account the probative analysis that experts in the field provide in opinion letters regarding the significance of the applicant’s contributions in order to assist in giving an assessment of the original contributions of major significance. That said, not all expert letters provide such analysis.
To be considered probative evidence that may form the basis for meeting the O-1A criterion related to original contributions of major significance, the letter must include specific details about your Continue reading →