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Outstanding Researcher/Professor vs. Alien with Extraordinary Ability

Although both categories are first preference categories for permanent residency, there are several key differences. The similarities and differences between each are as follows:

Similarities include:

  • Neither requires a Labor Certification;
  • Both require extensive achievement and ability; and
  • The supporting documentation for each petition is the same/very similar.

Differences include:

  • The "Extraordinary Ability" category generally requires more achievement and ability;
  • The "Extraordinary Ability'' category can apply to many different fields, while the "Outstanding Professor or Researcher" category applies only to scientific or scholarly fields;
  • The "Extraordinary Ability" category requires no specific employment or job offer, while the "Outstanding Researcher" category requires a job offer for a permanent research or tenured/tenure track teaching position;
  • One can self-petition in the "Extraordinary Ability category", while the "Outstanding Professor or Researcher" category requires a sponsorship from the alien's employer or prospective employer; and
  • The "Outstanding Professor or Researcher" category requires at least three years experience in the field, while the "Extraordinary Ability" category has no specified minimum experience requirement for any particular field.

According to the guidelines established by the USCIS, a candidate's application is approved under the "Extraordinary Ability" or "Outstanding Researcher/Professor" categories, provided they complete the appropriate documentation. However, the USCIS has some discretion in determining the strength/validity of the supporting documentation provided in the petition.

For more information on EB-1 Visa, please refer to the following links: