Priority Worker


Being classified as a priority worker is a fast-track method of becoming a permanent resident. The general thrust of this classification is to allow those individuals who are recognized as leaders in their respective fields to bypass the PERM Department of Labor process and proceed directly to the I-140 stage. The following foreign nationals apply to this classification:


Extraordinary ability is defined as "a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor" and is evidenced by either the one-time achievement of a major, international recognized award or at least three of the following criteria:

  • Receipt of a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards.
  • Membership in associations which require outstanding achievements of their members.
  • Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  • Participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied field.
  • Original scientific, scholastic, artistic, athletic or business-related contributions of major significance.
  • Authorship of scholarly articles.
  • Display of work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  • Performances in leading or cultural roles for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
  • High salary or remuneration for services.
  • Commercial successes in the performing arts.

This classification does not require an offer of employment; however, the petition must be accompanied by clear evidence that the foreign national is coming to the United States to continue work in the area of expertise.


In addition to presenting evidence of three years of teaching or research in the academic field, the foreign national must present evidence of international recognition consisting of at least two of the following criteria:

  • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement.
  • Membership in associations which require outstanding achievements.
  • Published material in professional publications written by others about the foreign national's work.
  • Participation as a judge of the work of others in the field.
  • Original scientific or scholarly research contributions.
  • Authorship of scholarly books or articles.

The foreign national will, also, have to present evidence of an offer of permanent employment. If the employer is a non-academic entity, the employer must demonstrate that it employs at least three persons in full-time, research positions and that the employer has achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.


An I-140 petition is filed with the Service Center having jurisdiction over where the job is located or where the foreign national resides in the circumstance depending upon whether the foreign national is seeking an exemption from the requirement of a job offer. Extensive evidence establishing that the foreign national satisfies the requisite criteria must also accompany the petition.