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O-1A Documentation Guidelines

The O-1A Individuals of Extraordinary Ability status requires you to demonstrate:

  • Sustained national or international acclaims and recognition for achievements in an academic field;
  • Level of expertise indicating that you are one of the small percentage who have arisen to the very top of the field; and,
  • Meeting three of the following criteria:

Examples:

  • International award of major significance, i.e. MacArthur, Gruber
  • Awards from well-known national institutions and well-known professional associations.
  • Certain doctoral dissertation awards and Ph.D. scholarships.
  • Certain awards recognizing presentations at nationally or internationally recognized conferences.

Documentation:

  • Copy of award.
  • Information of what the award means, who was eligible, criteria, background, and selection process.

USCIS Considerations:

While many scholastic awards do not have the requisite level of recognition, there are some Ph.D. scholarships or dissertation awards, for example, that are nationally or internationally recognized as awards for excellence such that they may satisfy the requirements of this criterion. Relevant considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • The criteria used to grant the awards or prizes;
  • The national or international significance of the awards or prizes in the field;
  • The number of awardees or prize recipients; and
  • Limitations on eligible competitors.

For example, an award available only to persons within a single locality, employer, or school may have little national or international recognition, while an award open to members of a well-known national institution (including an R1 or R2 doctoral university) or professional organization may be nationally recognized.

Not Acceptable:

  • Postdoctoral fellowship
  • Student award unless it is nationally or internationally recognized
  • Regional or JPL award

Examples:

  • National Academies
  • Membership level requiring nomination or achievement, i.e. IEEE Fellow, AAAI Fellow

Documentation:

  • Proof of membership
  • Criteria for membership

USCIS Considerations:

Associations may have multiple levels of membership. The petitioner must show that in order to obtain the level of membership afforded to the beneficiary, the beneficiary was judged by recognized national or international experts as having attained outstanding achievements in the field for which classification is sought.

Not Acceptable:

  • General paid memberships
  • Membership level that only requires level of education or years of experience

Examples:

The published piece must name you.

  • Review articles
  • Caltech/JPL News/Press Releases
  • Professional or major print publications, ie. newspapers, popular and academic journals, books, textbooks, or similar
  • Professional or major online publications
  • Transcript of professional or major audio or video coverage

Documentation:

  • Copy of article, highlight your name.
  • If in a foreign language, use google translate to translate the page, ensure it has translated the entire page before you save it to pdf.
  • Screen snip images of yourself/your name if you were in a video interview
  • Transcripts of any audio/video evidence

USCIS Considerations:

Published material that includes only a brief citation or passing reference to the beneficiary's work is not "about" the beneficiary, relating to the beneficiary's work in the field, as required under this criterion. However, the beneficiary and the beneficiary's work need not be the only subject of the material; published material that covers a broader topic but includes a substantial discussion of the beneficiary's work in the field and mentions the beneficiary in connection to the work may be considered material "about" the beneficiary relating to their work.

Moreover, officers may consider material that focuses solely or primarily on work or research being undertaken by a team of which the beneficiary is a member, provided that the material mentions the beneficiary in connection with the work, or other evidence in the record documents the beneficiary's significant role in the work or research.

Not Acceptable:

  • Community newsletter
  • Internal JPL/Caltech news
  • Articles that talk about your work but do not name you.
  • Articles that cite a publication you authored but does not name you in the article.

Examples:

  • Reviewer of abstracts or papers submitted for presentation at scholarly conferences
  • Peer reviewer for scholarly publications
  • Conference selection committees
  • Editorial boards
  • Thesis/dissertation committees
  • Peer reviewer for research funding programs

Documentation:

  • Letter from the editor, screenshot of web portal, or email invitations to confirm completed reviews.
  • Criteria for selection as judge
  • Journal ranking or impact factor or conference ranking

USCIS Considerations:

The petitioner must show that the beneficiary has not only been invited to judge the work of others, but also that the beneficiary actually participated in the judging of the work of others in the same or allied field of specialization.

Not Acceptable:

  • Declined invitations

Examples:

  • Patents or licenses deriving from the original work
  • Evidence of commercial use of the original work.
  • JPL/NASA awards
  • NASA/JPL grants (ROSES), evidence from NSPIRES
  • Presentations at major conferences
  • Invited talks
  • Published materials about the significance of the original work
  • Scientific tools/software
  • NASA white papers
  • Testimonials, letters, and affidavits about the original work
  • Citation count

Documentation:

  • If you have numerous grants that you are PI or even Co-I on, make a table to show how much funding you have received
  • Conference agendas with your presentations
  • Emails, flyers, websites for your talks and presentations
  • Patent approvals or authorization with any licensing
  • Citation count from Google Scholar
  • Letters are the cornerstone of this category; they are very important as they establish standing in the field and detail the significance of contributions
  • Letters should be from objective, well-established people in the field who are recognized as experts; include their Bio or short CV
  • Letters should come from as varied a group as possible, from the United States. and abroad
  • 7 to 10 letters, maximum 2 from JPL/Caltech
  • Letter should discuss accomplishments, not potential
  • See supplementary letter guidance document

USCIS Considerations:

Evidence that your work was funded, patented, or published, while potentially demonstrating the work's originality, will not necessarily establish, on its own, that the work is of major significance to the field. However, published research that has provoked widespread commentary on its importance from others working in the field, and documentation that it has been highly cited relative to other works in that field may be probative of the significance of the beneficiary's contributions to the field of endeavor.

Similarly, evidence that you developed a patented technology that has attracted significant attention or commercialization may establish the significance of the original contribution to the field. If a patent remains pending, USCIS requires additional supporting evidence to document the originality of the beneficiary's contribution.

Detailed letters from experts in the field explaining the nature and significance of the contribution(s) provide valuable context for evaluating the claimed original contributions of major significance, particularly when the record includes documentation corroborating the claimed significance.

Submitted letters should specifically describe your contribution and its significance to the field and should also set forth the basis of the writer's knowledge and expertise.

Not Acceptable:

  • Letters should not address your personal characteristics, i.e. ‘hardworking' ‘good-natured' ‘well-traveled' ‘young' or ‘rising star'.

Examples:

  • Journal publications
  • Books/book chapters
  • Conference publications

Documentation:

  • PDF of firstpage ONLY of each journal/conference publication.
  • Books/Book chapters – title page, table of contents, and first page of book chapter and whatever page lists your name
  • Citation count
  • Impact Factor
  • Conference ranking
  • Journal ranking
  • Keep your google scholar profile (or similar) up to date and accurate

Considerations:

Include any publication – even if you are not first author.

Not Acceptable:

  • Poster presentations
  • Powerpoint presentations

Examples:

  • Senior research position.
  • PI or CO-I for a project that received a merit-based government award, such as an academic research or SBIR grant.
  • Membership of a key committee within a distinguished organization.
  • Founder, cofounder, or contributor of IP to a startup business that has a distinguished reputation.
  • Critical or essential supporting role for JPL/NASA missions and projects.

Documentation:

  • Letters can help show this. Letters should include information on any critical/essential roles.
  • If it is organizations outside of JPL, provide resources and information on that organization and its distinguished reputation.
  • Detailed letters from persons with personal knowledge of the significance of your role can be particularly helpful.

USCIS Considerations:

Critical Role - the evidence should establish that you have contributed in a way that is of significant importance to the organization's activities. Essential Role - the evidence should establish that your role is integral to the entity. A leadership role often qualifies.

For a supporting role to be considered critical or essential, USCIS considers other factors, such as whether the performance in the role is integral or important to the organization's goals or activities, especially in relation to others in similar positions within the organization.

It is not the title of the role, but rather the duties and performance in the role that determines whether the role is critical or essential.

Not Acceptable:

  • This needs to be more than merely working for JPL/Caltech.

Usually not applicable to JPL/Caltech positions. Let your international office advisor know if you think it is.