Exceptional Ability Explained

What Exactly Is Exceptional Ability?

If you do not have a Master’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree and five years of progressive work experience, you can still qualify for an EB-2 by having “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business. You must have a level of expertise that is above what is ordinarily encountered in the field. To establish exceptional ability, you must meet at least three of the following criteria.

1. Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your field

Explanation: You have a post-secondary degree related to the field. For example, if your field is technology entrepreneurship, related degrees could be Business, Management, or Computer Science. You will need to provide the official diploma and transcript from your university.

You can also provide the certificate of completion and academic record if you have completed a non-degree program, such as a Certificate of Executive Management for a course at a college or university. 

2.  Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation

Explanation: You have employment verification letters or employment certifications showing at least 10 years of full-time related work experience. The employment verification letters/certifications should be on company letterhead. They should list your start and end date of employment, your full-time employment status, job title, and job duties. It is important that the job description is written in non-technical language, because the government officer reviewing the EB-2 will likely not have experience in your field.

3. A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession 

Explanation: Some occupations require a license to practice. For example, teachers, nurses, therapists, building contractors, need licenses. You can provide a copy of your official license to practice, and the selectivity or difficulty of obtaining the license to demonstrate your exceptional ability.

4. Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration that demonstrates your exceptional ability

Explanation: You have received a high salary, or other payments such as stocks and equity, for your work. Documentation of high salary could be your job offer letter, prior income tax filings, or evidence of awarded equity/stocks. 

You will also need to show that your compensation is comparatively higher than other people working in your field. For example, if you are currently working in the U.S., the Department of Labor publishes wage ranges for different occupations in every county in the U.S. In addition, there are wage surveys that show comparative salaries in different occupations. These can be used to demonstrate that your salary is higher than others in your field.

5. Membership in a professional association

Explanation: You are a member of a professional association related to the field. For example, if your work is in data science, and you are a member of a professional association for Data Scientists. You would need to provide evidence of your membership, such as a membership card, plus information about the organization granting membership, and whether membership is selective. The selectivity of membership (ex: only 10% acceptance rate) could be indicative that you have exceptional ability. 

6. Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organization

Explanation: You have received awards or other recognition for your work in the field. Awards will hold greater weight if they are presented to you personally, rather than a group or team. You would need to provide a copy of the award, coupled with information on the criteria used to grant the award and whether the award is selective. You can also provide recommendation letters from experts in your field who can attest that you are recognized for your achievements.

7. Other comparable evidence 

Explanation: You can provide comparable evidence of exceptional ability, such as: you have approved patents, you have judged or have been invited to speak at conferences in the field, you have authored publications in the field, or if others have cited your work. This is a non-exhaustive list of comparable evidence.

Legalpad can help you determine eligibility and the best option based on your goals and unique credentials. Contact us today.


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