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Schedule a Occupations-Aliens of Exceptional Ability in the Arts or Sciences

In May 2005, President Bush signed Public Law 109-13. One of the provisions of this massive Bill was to alleviate a huge backlog in “Schedule A” (EB-3) visa applicants including nurses and physical therapists. INTERESTINGLY, HOWEVER, SCHEDULE A ALSO INCLUDES EQUALLY A CLASS OF ALIENS WHO HAVE EXCEPTIONAL ABILITY IN THE ARTS AND SCIENCES.

An employer seeking a “Schedule A” petition on behalf of an alien of exceptional ability shall provide documentary evidence of the alien’s widespread acclaim and international recognition as an expert in their field. The documentation will demonstrate that the alien’s work in the field, during the past year, and their intended work in the field will require exceptional ability. In addition, material demonstrating that the alien meets two of the following seven criteria will be included:

  1. Documentation of the alien’s receipt of internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field for which classification is sought;
  2. Documentation of the alien’s membership in international associations, in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by international experts in their disciplines or fields;
  3. Published material in professional publications about the alien, relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date and author of such published material;
  4. Evidence of the alien’s participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization to that for which certification is sought;
  5. Evidence of the alien’s original scientific or scholarly research contributions of major significance in the field for which classification is sought;
  6. Evidence of the alien’s authorship of published scientific or scholarly articles in the field for which certification is sought, in international professional journals or professional journals with an international circulation;
  7. Evidence of the display of the alien’s work, in the field for which classification is sought, at artistic exhibitions in more than one country;

In addition to the above, the employer will complete and sign form I-140 and form ETA-9039.

The criteria for approval of a “Schedule A” occupation is very similar to that of the EB1A Extraordinary Ability category, although the standard is arguably a lower one. Extensive documentation and support letters from peers will be included in such an application

In a real sense, Schedule A for aliens of exceptional ability is a hybrid application between the standard alien of extraordinary ability application and the standard labor certification.

Like standard labor certification it does require a prospective employer and job offer, but unlike standard labor certification it does not require that an application be submitted to the Department of Labor. Some recruitment must be evidenced. The position offered to the alien may, but need not be, offered immediately. It can be offered when the alien becomes a legal permanent resident. The provisions for portability also apply, so that once the “Schedule A” petition is approved and once the I-485 has been pending for 180 days, the alien can change his or her plans to join the petitioner permanently, as long as the alien works in the same or a similar occupation.

To discuss this possibility, please contact us at

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