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EB1A - Evaluating Your Original Contributions of Major Significance

Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field

The purpose of this post is to provide tools that help you evaluate whether you could make an argument that you satisfy the 5th of the 10 EB-1A criteria, that you have original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to your field.

Personally, I have never seen an EB-1A application that did not include an argument that the person filing has made original contributions of major significance to their field. In order to satisfy any of the other 10 criteria you almost have to have contributed to your field in some way. Thus, thinking about your standing in your field and how you have impacted others is a critical first step to preparing your EB-1 application.

USCIS adjudicators are looking for noteworthy innovations, breakthroughs, or impacts in your field of endeavor. What is considered a major breakthrough in your field largely depends on your field and the number of peers in your field who agree that it is a major development. In considering whether you have contributed something to your field that has major significance you can ask yourself whether you have advanced the field, discovered or developed something new, or provided something that is useful to your peers or others that has attracted people within your field’s community or others to your work.

Even more importantly, you must show an immigration officer that you have evidence of your original contributions of major significance to your field. Please note, USCIS officers are not experts in your field. Crucial to a good EB-1 application is the ability to explain your extraordinary contributions in such a way that they clearly can be understood by the officer reviewing your case and convince them they should approve your case.

In questioning the quality of your original contributions of major significance, USCIS officer’s may ask questions such as the following:

  • What documentation do you possess that demonstrates you have original contributions?

  • Are your contributions of major significance?

  • Have your contributions been used by others in your field?

  • What degree of influence and standing do you have within your field?

  • Are other people advancing your field because of your contributions?

  • Did you discover something new, advance a theory or technology, or contribute in another way?

  • How useful is your contribution to your field?

  • Have others benefited financially from your work?

    • How?

    • Who?

    • Where are they geographically located?

Whatever your accomplishments are, you should not present them to USCIS without strong evidence from independent sources that you have completed the original contribution mentioned in your petition. There is a wide range of evidence that could work to show USCIS you actually contributed to your field. Here are some examples (maybe too many) of evidence you can prepare to answer these questions:

  • Press coverage regarding your original contributions

  • Patents (listing beneficiary as author)

    • Include usage statistics

  • Licenses

  • Invention evidence

  • Evidence of business strategies used to grow your company

  • Evidence of others benefitting from your strategies or models

  • Statistics regarding increased growth, sales, contracts, etc.

  • Contracts

  • Licensed Technology

  • Research articles and publications

  • Other researchers citations to your work

  • Support letters from colleagues, other researchers, government officials describing:

    • Your national or international influence on others in your field

    • Real world applications your work

    • Why your work is of major significance

    • Financial gains experienced as a result of your contributions

    • An explanation of how they benefit from your work

    • General letters about your importance or the importance of your work are insufficient

  • Google Scholar page showing a history of being cited by others

  • Testimonials from clients about your works impact on a contract, negotiation, etc.

  • Expert Letters discussing your contributions of major significance to the field.

  • Media articles

  • Evidence showing that people throughout the field consider your work important

  • Other researchers articles citing to your work

  • Widespread public commentary about your work

  • Evidence of your work being implemented by others

  • Application description

  • Downloads or usage statistics

  • Podcast transcripts discussing your work

  • Titles or records that you broke

  • Evidence of visitor traffic to your website

  • Ranking lists

  • Book

  • Awards, memberships, grants or other funding you received because of your contribution

  • Endorsements

  • Venture capital funding

  • Hardware or software

  • Blueprints of your work

  • A brief explanation of your field of study

In some cases, only a couple of the pieces of evidence listed above would be needed for a good application. In other cases, you will find you need to provide more information to create a clear picture of your accomplishments. Each EB-1A applicant is unique and deserves a unique approach to their individual application. For now, it is useful for you to consider what evidence you should be gathering for your petition.

This criteria becomes much harder at the point in the petition where the USCIS officer considers if your contributions are of “major significance”. This is why impact and usage are so important to your EB-1 petition. Impact can be thought of as the effect your original contribution had on your field and others. Usage can be thought of as the number of people, organizations, etc. actually utilizing your contribution. Statistics showing how many downloads you have, testimonials from users of your research, licensed use of a patent, etc. become a vital component to your petition. When crafting your EB-1 case, carefully consider how you can show others are actually benefiting from your original contributions.

Remember, in making an EB-1 argument you have to show you meet the criteria and then USCIS will also decide if what you accomplished is extraordinary enough for the EB-1 benefit during their final merits determination. If an officer believes you satisfied 3 or more of the 10 criteria, the application must then be judged to decide whether you are extraordinary. In practice, this means that what worked for your friend might not work for you and sometimes what didn’t work for a friend might work for you. I constantly hear people say that they were told by a friend that their achievement wouldn’t work because it didn’t work in their case. Sometimes, it is just a matter of getting your case before the right adjudicator on the right day or presenting your arguments in a new or creative way.

Because of the second level of review (final merits determination) determining if you are extraordinary using Kazarian standards, there is a higher percentage of RFEs, NOIDs, and denials in this category. The reality is, USCIS has an extremely high standard for EB-1 visas. Good luck preparing your EB-1 cases!

Our firm won’t charge you just for reaching out! We are offering free consultations through the end of January for aspiring EB-1 and NIW candidates. If you would like your qualifications evaluated (to see if you qualify or to get ideas on what you can do to improve your EB-1 or NIW resume) please contact our firm at with answers to the following questions:

  1. What is your area of expertise (in 2-5 words)?

  2. What nationally or internationally recognized awards in your field of endeavor have you received?

  3. What memberships in associations in your field do you possess that require outstanding achievements from members?

  4. Have you or your work been featured as published material in trade publications or other major media? If so, who published your work?

  5. Have you judged the work of others (i.e. peer review of journal articles, judge at competition, dissertation committee member, peer review for government funding program)? If so, how many times?

  6. Has your work been used by someone to make money (commercialized)? If so, explain:

  7. Have you obtained any patents or similar achievements because of your research? If so, explain:

  8. Link to Google Scholar (if not available, researchgate could work):

  9. Current Wage:

  10. Have you been employed in critical capacity? If so, where and in what capacity?

For more information see prior posts about EB-1 criteria:

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1 Comment

Hardik Shah
Hardik Shah
Aug 21, 2023

This article was really insightful in achieving clarity and guiding me to prep for this criteria. I'm very glad I came across your website and blog. Your website is also very impressive and even with minimal design, it works great.

Thank you!

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