On September 12th, 2023, USCIS updated its Policy Manual to offer clarifying guidance on examples of evidence that may satisfy the relevant criteria for employment first-based preference applicants, as well as how USCIS officers evaluate the totality of the evidence for eligibility. These updates reflect the Biden Administration’s increased focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, and appear to be geared towards making it clearer and easier for highly accomplished and educated individuals to apply for and obtain EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability) or EB-1B (Outstanding Professor or Researcher) classifications.
The first updated guidance is for qualifying or “comparable” evidence under the EB-1A category for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability (E11). The EB-1A classification is reserved for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, and whose achievements have been extensively documented and recognized in the field. Please see our guide on EB-1A Extraordinary Ability Green Card for more detailed information on this category.
The updates for the EB-1A category clarify how officers evaluate the totality of the evidence for EB-1A eligibility and provide more examples that satisfy the criteria. Of particular note is the increased emphasis and direction to USCIS officers on how they should consider “comparable evidence” to satisfy at least three of the ten regulatory criteria. More examples have been added under each criterion, and generally seem to broaden the types of evidence that the USCIS officer may consider as sufficient. While the majority of the additions focus on criterion for STEM fields and widen the types of evidence that may be considered, helpful examples and definitions were also added under criteria for arts, business, and athletics.
The second updated guidance is for qualifying or comparable evidence under the EB-1B category for Outstanding Professors or Researchers (E12). The EB-1B category is reserved for professors or researchers who are internationally recognized as outstanding for achievements in their particular academic field or specialization. While the EB-1B isn’t quite as high as the EB-1A, it still requires that two of the six listed criteria be satisfied. Please see our guide on EB-1B Green Card for Outstanding Researchers for more detailed information on this category.
The EB-1B category updates are similar to those of EB-1A, with more examples under each criterion as well as more detail regarding types of comparable evidence that may be used to satisfy a criterion. While the EB-1B section about comparable evidence is now more broadened in its wording, it may still be helpful to refer back to the EB-1A section on comparable evidence for more details and examples. The EB-1B typically has a heavy focus on STEM fields and academics, so broadening the guidance and types of satisfactory evidence is in keeping with the Biden Administration’s priorities.
Overall, these updates are a positive step in the right direction and contain a lot of common-sense clarifications and guidance. This will hopefully result in a reduction in RFEs, NOIDs, and denials for EB-1As and EB-1Bs, as well as make the process more streamlined and easier to understand. We will be closely monitoring how USCIS applies this new policy guidance and provide updates when available.
For the full text of the USCIS updates, please see USCIS Policy Manual > Volume 6 > Part F > Chapter 2 > Section B, Evidence of Extraordinary Ability and USCIS Policy Manual > Volume 6 > Part F > Chapter 3 > Section B, Evidence.