The recent Super Bowl ad, which had the godfather of heavy metal, Ozzy Osbourne, and Paul Stanley, the face of glam rock, objecting to the use of the term “Rock Star” for non-music-related overachievers was proof positive of the modern-day ubiquity of the term to connote being at the top of your field.
In 2017, I gave a presentation at the entrepreneurial conference known as the Innovation46 Summit at the NASDAQ in New York City titled “Visas for Rock Stars”), where I started things off by playing the intro to Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Far Beyond the Sun” and challenged the audience to name the artist (one guy screamed out “Yngwie!!” within 10 seconds, and I gave him a guitar pick I had caught from the Guitar God himself). I then proceeded to cite Yngwie as a great example of a US citizen whose path to citizenship was paved on the EB-1 Extraordinary Ability green card, as an intro to a discussion of all the other kinds of Rock Stars out there, with a focus on groundbreaking entrepreneurs.
While I did not have the honor of representing Yngwie for his petition, I have represented other Rock Stars, including what Paul Stanley would say in the ad are “real rock stars,” as well as many others who are at the top of their field. This has included scientists, researchers, businesspeople and entrepreneurs, mathematicians, engineers, athletes, widely-published accountants, architects, designers, models, and even a person world-renown (within the microcosmic world he works in) for building and fixing ancient Stradivariuses and old classical instruments. Therefore, in the debate on the breadth of usage of the term “Rock Star,” I would argue that within the context of U.S. immigration, Rock Stars can come from all walks of life as long as they meet the standard of showing that they are among the best and most highly-recognized in their field, whether they can play an instrument or not.
What are the advantages of the EB-1 Extraordinary Ability Greencard? Here are a few of the privileges that come with “Rock Star” status:
- No sponsor required – These petitions are self-sponsored and therefore require no sponsor, thus empowering the applicants to decide their own fate and not depend on an employer
- No requirement to be living in the U.S. or maintaining an underlying temporary status – Once approved, the individual moves to the U.S. with all rights and privileges of a permanent resident
- Premium Processing – These petitions can be approved in a mere matter of days. For those already living in the U.S., they can also be submitted concurrently with an adjustment of status petition, meaning permanent residence can be obtained, in many cases, in less than one year.
- Transparency in the underlying requirements – Upon an in-depth analysis of one’s achievement and recognition in the field, it is usually pretty clear where they stand with regards to meeting the preponderance of the evidence standard for these cases, what the deficiencies might be, and make a solid plan to create a bullet-proof Rock-Star-level case. The exception here is that even though the Immigration and Nationality Act has not changed its definition of “extraordinary ability” for EB-1 cases. So the key is to work with an attorney well-versed in how the law is being applied, as the expectations and kind of proof are always changing.
- No visa backlogs – Unlike the EB-2 and EB-3 categories, which have decade-long backlogs for individuals for certain countries, or the same for EB-5 green cards, EB-1 Extraordinary Ability petitions make individuals eligible at Yngwie Malmsteen shredding speeds, i.e., immediately!
- Being a big fish in a small pond is OK – You do not have to be world-famous in your profession to meet the requisite standards. You can be a Rock Star in your home country only, but as long as you are at the top of your field and everyone who needs to know knows, you can qualify. Not everyone is Yngwie Malmsteen (No one is!), but that is OK. Being great at what you do and being recognized by the people that matter is enough!
In the era of massive layoffs of immigrants in the U.S., a never-expanding H-1B cap, and a higher denial rate than what was experienced in the days of the Obama administration, the key here is SELF-EMPOWERMENT. Build your resume, following, and recognition in your field, and you may not even need a sponsor/employer. Build your bridge to your American Dream. And why not? You are a rock star, aren’t you?
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